Thursday, July 29, 2021

Liverpool - The City of Remembrance

When you look throughout history there are many tragic incidents, accidents and disasters that occur in every city in the world, but one that has many memorials to such periods is that of the western English city of Liverpool, home of the Beatles and two Premier League football clubs.

I have visited Liverpool on several occasions in the last 20 years, each time finding new things to see and it is my intention to head back at some point to see other historical pieces that have since been erected in memory of people from long ago. But we shall start with the maritime history of this great city and its connections to two of the most famous lost liners in the world.

Back in the early 1900s the two shipping rivals Cunard and White Star were in the process of designing and building their most inspiring ships, for Cunard it would be the Lusitania and Mauritania and for White Star it would be the three sisters Olympic, Titanic and Britannic. Lusitania was launched in 1907 and was a regular here at the docks, but the Titanic never came here despite the fact that the name Liverpool was emblazoned on her stern as her port of registry.

Both of these ships sank in tragic circumstances – Titanic was lost on 15th April 1912 after striking an iceberg killing 1512, Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat off Ireland on 7th May 1915 killing 1197. The Merseyside Maritime Museum features these ships heavily and tells the story of how so many local merchant mariners put to sea in these ships and how many lost their lives. Two monuments adorn this area by the docks, the first one is in the grounds of the museum and that is the propeller of the Lusitania, salvaged from her wreck, the second is a memorial to the Titanic unveiled a few years after the sinking.

Just over the main roads from here are the old White Star Line offices, the headquarters of a company that ended up merging with Cunard and eventually phased out after the Second World War. The building itself has a plaque but mentions nothing about the company’s most famous ships.

Over in Birkenhead is the U-boat Story, a museum dedicated to the wreck of the German submarine U-534 (featured in a previous blog story). Sunk in the last days of the war in 1945 she was salvaged in August 1993 in a hunt for lost gold. A few years later she was brought here where she went on display and this is where I first went around the wreck in 2000. Several years later she was sold once again, cut up and made into an incredible museum that she sits in today with all her artefacts, a fascinating piece of history and one that we can commend those that have put all their time and effort into the preservation of the wreck and the things that this submarine can teach us about the Second World War.

The final memorial to talk about is one that is much closer to home and one that actually didn’t happen anywhere near here. On 15th April 1989 a football match at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield ended with thousands of Liverpool FC fans being crushed in a stand that was overcrowded and badly managed. By the end of the day there were dozens dead, the final toll being 96. While the city of Sheffield was in shock, it was Liverpool where all the victims came from and because of this a memorial at the Liverpool FC ground at Anfield pays tribute to the people who did not come home that day.

While there was controversy for many years over the blame for this terrible incident, the city did not forget their people and a second memorial was unveiled in the city in 2013. This memorial is one that I have not yet had the chance to visit but one day I will make the journey and seek it out for myself.

My trips here have shown me that the city of Liverpool, heavily bombed during the Second World War and the scene of several headline-hitting murders over the years, will continue to remember their people no matter where they are. It is a city that acts more like a family than a neighbourhood, one that will make sure that no one from Liverpool is ever forgotten.

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