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On the Waterfront creative writing project

group photo of school children

Liverpool’s docks and waterfront have always been key in the city’s success - from Thomas Steers’ Old Dock opening in 1715 right up to the construction of the Liverpool 2 deep water container terminal in the present day. Merseyside Maritime Museum’s recent exhibition On the Waterfront explored these themes and the significance of the people central to that story.  

In the education team at the museum we thought it was important for local schoolchildren to gain a greater understanding of their area and how crucial the development of the Albert Dock was to the growth of their home town. With this in mind, we joined forces with The Windows Project and Year 6 from St Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Primary School in the city centre to investigate the history of the waterfront as part of a creative writing project.

The children began by visiting the exhibition and taking part in staff-led activities – tours of the Old Dock and All hands on deck, an extremely interactive session looking at the jobs undertaken by dock workers in the past, the cargoes that passed through Liverpool and why so many of our phrases and sayings have a nautical background.  

The children thoroughly enjoyed their museum sessions which gave them the inspiration to work with John Hughes from The Windows Project in producing some wonderful pieces of poetry that evoke the sensations of the Albert Dock, past and present. The class recorded some of their pieces for you to enjoy - listen to them here and on the next page or read the transcripts.  

Group poem 1

Oliver Vasco

Harleigh Birch

Emily Tsang

Listen to more poems from the On the Waterfront creative writing project.

You can see more photos from the workshops and read or listen to all of the poems on the Kaleidoscope website.

Transcripts

Group poem 1

A dock was built in Liverpool
In 1715
They worked day and night
Like a clean, mean machine.
They built layers of walls
Using bricks of clay.
A dock was built in Liverpool
And we can see it today!

Oliver Vasco

The Albert Dock was…
The sight of the water glistening in the sun
Like thick bars of gold waiting for me on a sunny afternoon.
The sound of the wavey water whistled at me to come over to it and have a swim.
The touch of the floor beneath the soles of my shoes felt frosty.
The smell of the soft air kissed my cheek very gently like a soft wind.
The taste of frothy ice cream made my day!

Harleigh Birch

The Albert Dock was…
The sight of ships docking in from the night,
Crawling through the sea like giant sea snails in the dark mist.
The sound of the loud fog horn ringing in the dusk as the night gets darker.
The touch of creepy crawleys buzzing around in the dim dusky sky.
The smell of stale, salty sea lingering in your mouth.
The taste of home.

Emily Tsang

The Albert Dock was…
The sight of suffering, blue-faced men unloading the ponderous, filthy wooden crates from all over the world.
The sound of calmful, deep blue waves clashing against the rocks.
The touch of plaited ropes being pulled by all the hard working men.
The smell of fish and chips getting sizzled in the oven and being drizzled with vinegar…
The taste of old Liverpool.