Maritime Tales - new weekly feature

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Note from Karen: introducing Stephen Guy who will be presenting a weekly maritime feature starting next week.

a smiling man wearing glasses

Stephen Guy, author of the new Maritime Tales blog feature

Liverpool is one of the great maritime cities of the world where ships and seafarers have come and gone for hundreds of years, leaving in their wakes countless fascinating stories.

Merseyside Maritime Museum has stunning collections giving insights into this heritage and the unique port linked to the world’s trade routes. My new weekly feature, Maritime Tales, is inspired by those exhibits and collections.  

I'll look at the remarkable characters from Liverpool’s maritime history, many of whom left lasting impressions. They include Isambard Kingdom Brunel, J Bruce Ismay, Alfred and George Holt, William and John Laird,Samuel Cunard,  Captain Edward Smith, Captain Johnnie Walker and Jesse Hartley.

Then there are those who once played a big part in the Liverpool maritime scene and its triumphs and disasters but who may no longer be remembered by many. There is Able Seaman Joseph Rogers, hero of the wreck of the Royal Charter, James Baines founder of the Black Ball Line used by emigrants, William Burslow gallant captain of the first Royal Yacht Mary, John Towne Danson marine insurance pioneer, Sir Percy Bates chairman of the Cunard Line and William Inman with his pioneering emigrant steamships.

Then there are the immeasurable numbers of unrecorded people whose hopes and fears were inextricably linked to its ships, seafarers and docks. The dark days when Liverpool was Europe’s leading slave trade port were followed by 100 years as probably the greatest emigrant port in world history. The Tales recall the highs and lows over the centuries up to the present, when 2007 is Liverpool’s 800th anniversary and Year of Heritage.

Some of the legendary vessels I'll look at include the Titanic, Great Eastern, Thetis, Lusitania, Alabama, Ellan Vannin, Olympic, Carmania, Britannia, Great Britain, Prince of Wales, Bismarck and Tirpitz.

There are disasters and triumphs – from the successes of Brunel’s pioneering steamers to the terrible losses of the Second World War. I'll look at innovative ideas and how Liverpool has frequently led the way taking risks and pushing the pace of progress.

My ancestors settled in Liverpool around 1700 and many have been mariners and shipwrights over the generations.  I have worked for many years as a news reporter and journalist before joining National Museums Liverpool.

A new Maritime Tale appears every Saturday in the Liverpool Echo.