From 1-7 May 1941, Liverpool sustained a week of intense bombing from the German Luftwaffe with devastating consequences.
National Museums Liverpool is marking the 75th anniversary of this attack with a series of free talks, tours, performances and online activity.
During the Second World War, Liverpool’s role as a vital port made it a key target for Germany. In what was the most concentrated series of air attacks on any British city area outside London, 870 tonnes of high explosive bombs and more than 112,000 incendiaries (firebombs) were dropped by German bombers.
The destruction during that one week was overwhelming, with more than 1,450 people killed in Liverpool and 250 in Bootle. Many more were seriously injured.
Julia Bryan, Senior Education Manager at National Museums Liverpool, said:
“The May Blitz has an important place in Liverpool’s history. 75 years later, the city’s landscape still bears the scars, and the memories of that terrible week remain with those who witnessed it and their descendants.
“During the week of events, we’re looking forward to meeting people who can tell us more about that time, whether it is from their own experience or passed on by someone they knew. Our ‘We’ll meet again’ event at Museum of Liverpool on 3 May from 12.30-3pm, is an opportunity for visitors to share these personal accounts.
“Role-players and family crafts will also provide an opportunity to help the younger generation understand Liverpool’s role in the Second World War and appreciate the spirit of the city to survive.”
A range of content will be published online showing the impact of the Blitz on buildings in the city.
The website will feature a Day in the Life of the Blitz, a timeline of events over a 24 hour period; photographs of bomb damage in Liverpool; an overview of what happened on the docks, and an online exhibition showing the damage to World Museum.
Bombed Out! World Museum and the Blitz
On the night of 3 May 1941, Liverpool Museum (now World Museum) was targeted by the German Luftwaffe. The building suffered extensive damage and the next morning, the Museum and its remaining collections were turned to charred rubble and debris.
An online exhibition of more than 30 objects will launch on 3 May 2016, telling the stories of that night. It will explore the Museum’s relationship to the city and people of Liverpool and highlight the impact and aftermath of the Blitz.
Emma Martin, Senior Curator of Ethnology, said:
“3 May 1941 was a devastating night in the Museum’s history. Many objects fell victim to the bombing and the building itself was wrecked.
“Our online exhibition is an account of that night 75 years ago, highlighting the objects that were destroyed, those that survived and those that had been evacuated to safe locations in areas like Wales and Cheshire.”
Free events at Merseyside Maritime Museum and the Museum of Liverpool:
Merseyside Maritime Museum
Exploring the social and commercial history of the Port of Liverpool the impact of the Second World War is a significant element within Merseyside Maritime Museum. In particular the Museum’s Battle of the Atlantic gallery highlights the vital role played by the Merchant Navy and Liverpool in keeping Britain alive for almost six years.
Never at sea
1.30, 2.30 and 3.30pm
Liverpool played a vital part in the Battle of the Atlantic during the Second World War. A Wren role-player shares the top secret work carried out underneath the streets of the city.
Wartime at the Piermaster’s House
At intervals 1-4pm
Travel back in time to the 1940s to find out what life in Liverpool was really like during Second World War.
Meet Winston Churchill
1 and 2 May
At intervals 1-4pm
In May 1941, Winston Churchill famously said of Liverpool: “I see the damage done by the enemy attacks, but I also see the spirit of an unconquered people.” Meet Britain's wartime Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, as a roleplayer wanders through the Museum.
‘Bless em all’ 1940s variety show
1.30 and 2.30pm
Let Pocket Panto take you back to the 1940s with this fantastic variety show. Featuring songs and sketches made famous by Vera Lynn, Gracie Fields, Flanagan and Allen and sketches such as In The Box and a spectacular turn from the Andrews Sisters.
Spirit of the Blitz crafts
Drop into our hands on workshop for some wartime crafts. You can make your own gas mask or design a medal to take home.
Museum of Liverpool
The May Blitz is a key moment within the Museum’s History Detective’s timeline. Taking in the city’s history from the Ice Age to present day, a number of objects tell the story of the May Blitz. A spotlight display on the impact of the Blitz on Bootle is a poignant look at a local area which sustained massive damage, with more than 80% of houses destroyed.
2 to 7 May
Learn a little about our history by making your own ARP warden’s helmet and choose what you might pack as an evacuee.
Curatorial Talk: The May Blitz
Join one of the Museum’s curators as they share their knowledge on this moment in history and its impact on Liverpool.
Enjoy a nostalgic look back at the Liverpool of our childhoods and those of our families.
We’ll Meet Again
Come along to share stories of the Liverpool Blitz, take part in activities from past and present, have a look at objects of the era and celebrate life to the sounds of the 40s.
Journey through the last 100 years and remember how the May Blitz changed the lives of Liverpudlians and explore some of the stories and objects from Liverpool's past. Especially suited to older visitors, these gallery tours are part of the wider House of Memories programme.
Journey back in time at the Piermaster’s House, a charming 1940s wartime home, between Albert Dock and the Pier Head.
This wartime house features décor and objects from the 1940s and offers a glimpse into home life during the Second World War.
National Museums Liverpool
National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues, including some of the most visited museums in England outside of London. 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 Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, the Walker Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Seized! (UK Border Force National Museum), Sudley House and the Lady Lever Art Gallery.