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Display marks Cunard's history

Posted on Wednesday 1st July 2015
Brass Mauretania letters

175 years of Cunard line at Merseyside Maritime Museum

A new display about the history of Liverpool’s links with the historic shipping line, Cunard, will open at Merseyside Maritime Museum on Friday 3 July, ahead of the Transatlantic 175 weekend on 4 and 5 July.

Cunard 175 will celebrate the people, ships, and events that have linked Cunard and Liverpool together for 175 years since the Cunard Line was created.

The story of some of the most stylish ships in the world will be told through the lives of the people who sailed on them and the company that built them, using objects from National Museum Liverpool’s Maritime History collections and Archives.

The display will feature a selection of Cunard ship models including the Aquitania, Mauretania II and Britannia, along with objects from life on board such as games and decorative objects.

A key highlight of the display is the actual brass letters featured on the stern of Mauretania, which were donated to National Museums Liverpool’s collections in 1940.

Mauretania was one of Cunard’s most successful ships, built by Swan Hunter of Newcastle for Cunard in 1907. During the First World War she was an Armed Merchant Cruiser and later a hospital ship but she was also a passenger ship, and often sailed from the Liverpool landing stage.

Ian Murphy, Deputy Director of Merseyside Maritime Museum said:

“Throughout Cunard’s history, the company forged links with Liverpool that are visible in the city’s fabric. The Cunard building - the company’s headquarters - opened in 1916 and became an iconic part of the waterfront. In wartime and in peace, Cunard was, and continues to be, a central part of Liverpool’s maritime story, which we’re looking forward to telling in this display.”

In 1840 Samuel Cunard founded Cunard - originally called the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company – which operated between Liverpool, Halifax, and Boston. The line has become synonymous with passenger travel and the company’s red and black funnel has been a familiar sight at the Liverpool waterfront since the first transatlantic voyage in July 1840.

A Cunard Trail has also been created, to lead visitors around Merseyside Maritime Museum, linking to objects in the Museum’s collections that relate to Cunard, including a bell, which started life on the Mauretania and was later donated to a local church to use as its bell until the late 1970s. The bell can be seen on display in the Museum’s new exhibition Lusitania: life, loss, legacy, which itself pays tribute to the saddest event in Cunard’s history, when the luxury liner was torpedoed 100 years ago, with the loss of 1,198 lives.

For more information on the Cunard 175 display, Cunard trail and events and activities at Merseyside Maritime Museum for Liverpool’s Transatlantic 175 weekend at Merseyside Maritime Museum, visit: www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/cunard175

Notes to Editors

Merseyside Maritime Museum

Merseyside Maritime Museum is situated at the Albert Dock. It contains a variety of objects associated with the social and commercial history of the port of Liverpool. Highlights include ship models, maritime paintings, colourful posters from the golden age of liners and even some full sized vessels.

National Museums Liverpool

National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic.    We attract nearly 2.7 million visitors every year. Our venues are the International Slavery Museum, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, Museum of Liverpool, Sudley House, Border Force National Museum (Seized! The Border and Customs Uncovered), Walker Art Gallery and World Museum.