Previously only a port of call for large vessels, the Ocean Countess is due to be the first to use the facility in May, with 12 more visits scheduled throughout the year. It is hoped that many new jobs will be created in the former Capital of Culture as a result.
Liverpool has a proud maritime history which can be traced back to the 16th century with the construction of the Old Dock in 1715. Most famous in the city is the Albert Dock, built in 1846 and today a major tourist attraction featuring Tate Liverpool, the Beatles Story, the International Slavery Museum and – fittingly – the Merseyside Maritime Museum.
The city was famously a part of the tragic fate of the Titanic, whose managing company the White Star Line was registered in James Street, Liverpool. The musicians who famously carried on playing while the ship sank were recruited by a Liverpool agency called CW and FN Black, while the city’s Henry Wilson and Company made the Titanic’s kitchen ranges – just some of the Titanic’s connections with the vessel.
Visitors to the city can learn more about the city’s role in the vessel’s fateful voyage at the Maritime Museum where a new exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of the disaster has just opened. The exhibition includes the original 20ft model of the Titanic along with a survivor’s lifejacket, and the library’s Maritime Archives and Library also has on display the only surviving first class ticket.
The Titanic isn’t the only fateful ship to have connections to Liverpool. Two years after it sank, the Empress of Ireland met the same fate. Together with the Empress of Britain, the Empress of Ireland had offered passengers a weekly service from Ireland to Canada from 1906. On 29 May 1914, the vessel collided with the Storstad from Norway and sank within 15 minutes, killing 1,000 people just four miles from the shore of Quebec.
Meanwhile, in 1907, the ocean going liner the Lusitania made her maiden voyage to New York from Liverpool and made countless trips between the two cities in the years that followed. But in 1915, just three years after the Titanic disaster and a year after the Empress of Ireland, a Lusitania crossing to Liverpool from the Big Apple ended in disaster when it was torpedoed without warning and sank in just 18 minutes. Almost 1,200 people lost their lives.
While Liverpool’s maritime history has been beset by tragedy, it remains a huge part of the city’s culture and heritage and is an important asset in terms of its tourism.
Many hotels in Liverpool offer great deals throughout the year to the Merseyside Maritime Museum for those visitors who want to learn more about its centuries-old connections with the sea. There is much to explore for the ardent or amateur maritime enthusiast – and with the creation of the new port facilities, even more visitors are likely to learn of its rich history.
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