Curator of Photographic Archives Anne Gleave has found a photograph amongst the Maritime Archives and Library collections which depicts an incident that occurred on this day 63 years ago:
"A relatively innocuous photograph when looked at in more detail reveals that 63 years ago today on 16th August 1950 a ship in the Mersey, ‘Kirriemoor’ owned by Runicman Shipping Company Ltd / Moor Line Ltd, narrowly averted a disaster after a tow-rope attaching her to a tug snapped whilst the ship was manoeuvring into Alfred Dock, Birkenhead, which left the ship drifting dangerously up-river. Although the ‘Kirriemoor’s’ two anchors were dropped the vessel was caught by the strong tide before they could grip and the ship was alarmingly carried towards the Woodside landing stage on the Birkenhead side of the river. Eventually ‘Kirriemoor’ was brought under control and the ship merely ‘touched’ the landing stage, skilfully avoiding a collision which may have fouled the stage’s moorings. A new rope was passed to ‘Kirriemoor’s’ tug and the ship then safely entered Alfred Dock; a story with a happy ending.
A tense moment on the Mersey from a near disaster with a 4989 ton ship which highlights the skills of mariners both past and present, who have brought and continue to bring their ships along the river, for the most part, without incident. This story underlines the constant potential for disaster with the coupling of fast flowing tides and vessels of significant tonnage.
The photograph, which is part of the Keith Lewis photographic collection, was brought to my attention by a volunteer who has been diligently working with these images, re-housing them into conservation storage and undertaking research for their documentation. The ‘Kirriemoor’ is shown in difficulties, attended by her tug; the image is dated and accompanied by an un-credited newspaper cutting outlining the event.
The Keith Lewis photographic collection is currently being re-housed and documented and was generously bequeathed to the Merseyside Maritime Museum in 2009 by Keith Lewis, a shipping enthusiast of some note, who spent a lifetime photographing shipping on the Mersey during the mid twentieth century. The collection is large and consists principally of black and white postcard sized photographs of ships which cover a broad span of shipping companies and is an excellent resource. Until cataloguing is completed the collection is not currently publically available. I am sure that we will find many more images amongst this collection which, like this one, has a story to tell, bringing the past to life and carrying with it an insightful glimpse into the world of shipping."