Saturday, 25 July 2009

Merseyside Maritime Museum.

This afternoon we spent visiting the Pier Masters House which is open to the public and the Maritime Museum. As we headed across the bridge at the entrance to Albert Dock British Waterways guys were lowering the stop gate between Albert and Canning Half Tide lock. This is operated by one huge hydraulic ram. As the gate went down, (It lays flat on the dock sea bed) we could see the water starting to pour into Albert Dock. By the time the gate was fully lowered there was quite a torrent pouring through the gap which last for several minutes. We spoke to the BW guy who told us that after the narrowboat movements for the day, which were just 3 outward bound, they had let Spirit of Fairbridge out into the Mersey at high tide. Because of this the two Canning docks were now higher than Albert and Salthouse Docks so he had to correct the levels. Normally they just open some sluices to do this but these apparently take hours so he took a short cut and just lowered the gate which did the job in minutes.

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Liverpool 269 Liverpool 271

Getting back to the Pier Masters house which has been set up as it would have been in 1940 as a museum piece. There were originally 4 of these houses but 3 were destroyed in a German air raid during WWII. The kitchen had all the CWS (Cooperative) products of the era on the shelves, ration books and the house had been converted from gas lighting to electricity. Outside proudly stood the outdoor loo and a small garden that they managed to grow fresh vegetables as part of the war effort. The latter is still maintained today with a good crop of pea’s, rhubarb, brussell sprouts, marrow’s or courgette’s, potato’s,lettuce and bean’s.

From here we went back to the Maritime museum to view the Slavery, Boat Building, and the History of Liverpool sections which covers another 2 floor’s of the museum. The slavery exhibit was interesting with many audio visual displays by all sorts of people talking about how slavery affected them and that even today, Black Americans are not as free as the world have us believe because they are trapped by their skin colour into poverty and poor race relations. Perhaps President Obama will change all that.

Other nationalities spoke of entrapment or slavery, working in domestic service for a pittance and their lives not being their own as they were not allowed outside the front door or discouraged from trying to obtain a better education to further themselves. We tend to think of slavery when European's went to West Africa to catch African natives and ship them back to the Western world for a life in slavery but that is only part of the story. Today Haiti is the slavery hot spot of the world where 1 in 5 children never live to see their 5th birthday and the parents are entrapped by poverty. A mind provoking exhibit.

The ship building exhibit was of the ship builders on the Birkenhead side of the Mersey and how ship building progressed from wooden ships and sails to steel ships with mechanical propulsion. There were many models of ships that have graced the Liverpool waterfront in their day but of course have long gone to the scrap yards.

The final section of Liverpool’s history from the time of the civil war to the building of the first dock which started the ball rolling. The myth of how the Liver Birds became pseudonymous with Liverpool. The boom and bust days of the last 2 centuries with immigration, over crowding, pestilence and disease, unemployment and Liverpool’s link with Ireland which is where I think the Scouse accent is derived. There was plenty of original film footage on display, some on a big screen which showed just how busy and important Liverpool was to the Britain we know today.

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This is the stone version of the Liver bird's. One of only 4. Originally at St Johns Market in the city, the other 3 are still in situ.

It is only since the mid 1980’s that Liverpool has started to fight back against it’s sordid reputation as a not very nice place to go, because with having the most Grade 1 listed buildings in the world it even outstrips London. With a vision bought about by Lord Michael Heseltine, Liverpool is becoming the tourist Mecca of the North.


Unknown said...

Came across your blog while finding out about the new canal link. What an amazing thing to do!
I worked for a year many moons ago in my 20's on a horsedrawn holiday boat on the grand union.

Good luck for the rest of the journey


Unknown said...

Just came across your blog when I was looking for news of the new canal link. What a fantastic thing to do! I was first introduced to the canal many moons ago in my 20's when I had a holiday job on a horsedrawn barge on the grand union.

Good luck for the rest of your journey

Sue, liverpool

Derek and Dot said...

Hi Sue
Thanks for that, the Liverpool Canal Link is fabulous, well worth a visit.
We are having a ball and wont want to go home!