Many people emigrated from Liverpool to start a new life abroad during the Victorian era and this interactive role-play session will give pupils a greater understanding and empathy for those involved.  Using costume and props, groups will imagine themselves in Liverpool back in 1854 and will be guided through their emigration experience by a museum roleplayer.

This session is available at 10.15am, 11.30am and 1.15pm, Monday to Friday

people dressed as 19th century travellers

Key facts

  • Suitable for: Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Post 16, Post 18
  • Subjects: English, History
  • Session type: Museum led
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Class size(maximum): 30
  • Venue: Merseyside Maritime Museum
  • £90 including VAT per session
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Workshop details

Using the very popular Emigrants to a New World gallery at the Maritime Museum, this session takes groups back in time to Liverpool in 1854. Led by one of the museum’s roleplayers (not necessarily the one pictured), students are introduced to the concept of emigration and how key Liverpool was to this mass movement of peoples around the world.

Using role play techniques, costume and props, groups are taken on a guided trip along our recreated dockside street – they will learn about which countries many Victorian emigrants came from, where they had to stay on arrival in Liverpool, how much the voyage would have cost and they will also be presented with the many dangers and problems to be faced.  Will the decisions that they make turn out to be the correct ones?

The action then moves into a recreation of a Liverpool emigrant sailing ship, the Shackamaxon, which made the voyage to New York. This perfectly captures the environment in which steerage passengers made their journey - students will gain a real understanding of how cramped, dirty and dangerous these ships could be.  

Finally, what happened upon arrival at your destination? Medical examinations, possible separation from friends and loved ones and perhaps the discovery that your new life is not what you imagined it to be.

Placing the students in the position of emigrants, and learning about their hardships, will encourage empathy with people from the past and help to understand the varied reasons behind their decision to begin a new life abroad. Also, they will begin to see how Liverpool was affected by this mass migration - many different nationalities are still to be found in the city today!

This session also fits in perfectly with teaching Fundamental British Values within SMSC (spiritual, moral, social and cultural development).  As well as broaching topics as diverse as free will and individual liberty, the ideas inherent in developing a greater understanding of mass movements of people in the past still has a direct bearing on contemporary issues of migration.