Yesterday, the Museum of Liverpool welcomed a very special visitor, who will be staying with us all through Christmas.
If you remember Blacklers Department Store on the corner of Elliot Street and Great Charlotte Street, then you may remember the gigantic Santa Claus, which adorned the façade of the building for a number of years.
Standing at 4.5 metres high (nearly 15ft) Santa was painted by Peter Blazey in 1957, when he was an 18 year old apprentice artist at Blacklers’ display studio. It has now taken up residence in The People’s Republic gallery at the Museum, standing opposite the 5.5 metre (18ft) life-size Liver Bird.
You can hear Peter and Curator Kay Jones on BBC Radio Merseyside talking about Santa Claus here at 01:30:00.
When Blacklers closed in 1988, Peter bought many of the props he had created over the years and set up his own design studio. Santa Claus - based on a Norman Rockwell illustration, who created Coca Cola’s Santa - is one of two Santas donated to the Museum of Liverpool by Peter. The other was on display inside the store and is currently undergoing conservation work.
Peter visited the Museum yesterday with his granddaughter Polly, to see Santa on display, looking out of the gallery’s massive window over the Pier Head and Three Graces.
Santa joins ‘Blackie’ the rocking horse in The People’s Republic, which was a firm favourite in Blacklers’ children’s clothing department and later Alder Hey Children's Hospital.
So if you remember Blacklers’ Santa and you want to bring the kids along so they can tell him what they want for Christmas, he’ll be with us until 6 January.
As with all National Museums Liverpool venues, the Museum of Liverpool is closed from 2pm on 24 December, all day 25 and 26 December and 1 January. On all other days they are open 10am-5pm.