Peoples Heritage – free heritage activities 2016

Workshop 1: Thurs 19 May, 2.30-4pm / Workshop 2: Tues 24 May, 2-3.30pm / Workshop 3: TBC

Merseyside Maritime Museum is producing brand new heritage interpretation for Albert Dock. Installed throughout its colonnades later this year, it will guide visitors through the Dock’s fascinating history.
We are offering a unique chance to be part of this process.
Three workshops will explore the process behind exhibition creation and archive research, drawing on the experience of Merseyside Maritime Museum and Liverpool Record Office staff. They will look at applying these ideas to the themes and stories at the heart of the Albert Dock interpretation project.

Workshop 1: Merseyside Maritime Museum
The first workshop will look at the processes used to put together an exhibition. Maritime Museum staff will explain the steps that they work through when creating a display, using examples and case studies of the Museum’s most recent exhibitions: On the Waterfront and Lusitania: life, loss, legacy.

Workshop 2: Liverpool Record Office (at Liverpool Central Library)
Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of Liverpool Record Office? This session will take you behind closed doors and let you uncover some of the archives relating to the Albert Dock. There will also be information on how to access the archives for general research, with help on hand to answer questions.

Workshop 3: Merseyside Maritime Museum
The final workshop offers an opportunity to discuss the themes of the Albert Dock project in light of the information gained in earlier sessions. Museum staff will discuss the group’s ideas and suggest practical steps for taking these forward, shaping them, and creating a display.

You may book for individual workshops or for the entire series, depending on your availability. We will give first option for places on Workshop 3 to those who have booked for either of the other two workshops once the date has been confirmed.
To book a place, please email Community Engagement Officer:


Monday 23 May & Saturday 16 July, 2pm

This fascinating tour begins with a presentation on the history of Liverpool before the docks were created, moving through to the development of the Albert Dock and the regeneration of the buildings that now house Tate Liverpool. The Tate Liverpool building has gone through several transformations since opening in 1988 and this tour will reveal its secrets.

To book, email Community Engagement Officer:

Bespoke times

Discover the fascinating history of the Albert Dock and its place within Liverpool’s waterfront. Walks last around an hour.
Times can be booked to suit individual groups.
You can also let us know if you have any specific interests that you’d like the walk to include.

Groups of approx. 5-20 people. To book, email Community Engagement Officer:

Volunteering Opportunity – Family History Research

The History of Place project is looking for volunteers with enquiring minds to join its Liverpool based Research and Archive Group. You could help it with a Heritage Lottery Fund funded, ground-breaking national project which will celebrate the lives of deaf & disabled people through history. In Liverpool the group will carry out research into the Royal School for the Blind, record oral histories and identify unique stories to share via a website, films, games and exhibitions at M Shed, Museum of Liverpool and V&A. If you have a bit of spare time and are interested in doing some detective work, please call 01303 259777, email or visit to find out more and register. Volunteers will receive a full induction, ongoing training and support to carry out the role.

Life After Life: Reading Kate Atkinson

By Dr Shirley Jones


Twenty years ago, Kate Atkinson’s first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, was published. Its heroine, Ruby Lennox, tells the story of her life from before conception to adulthood with ‘footnotes’ relating to her ancestors, such as her great grandmother who in a moment of despair leaves 6 children to run off with a ‘magician’ or angelic Uncle Albert, who ‘collected good days the way other people collected coins or postcards.’. Cataclysmic historical events such as the two world wars affect Ruby’s family dramatically whilst lesser landmarks, such as the 1953 Coronation and the 1966 World Cup final provide wonderful comic set pieces. At the heart of the novel is a mystery, for the seemingly omniscient Ruby, does not in fact know all.

Family, identity and heritage are consistent themes in Atkinson’s work as is history and the passing of time. Atkinson’s 2004 novel, Case Histories, opens with 3 unexplained crimes from the past which the novel’s hero, Jackson Brodie, is called upon to unravel. As we follow his progress we come to understand that his own personal history is shaped by devastating loss. In the Jackson Brodie series (four novels to date), Atkinson’s plotting is complex and compelling. At the same time these novels are rich tales of contemporary life with all of its comic absurdity, violence, and love.


Atkinson’s recent 2013 Costa Novel Award winner, Life after Life represents the pinnacle of her achievement so far, narrating the multiple possibilities of one woman’s life. Over and over again we are told the tale of Ursula Todd, and her many deaths and extraordinary lives. Astonishingly, this narrative experimentation does not lessen the reader’s emotional involvement with the character but enchants and ensnares.

The most wonderful thing about Atkinson’s writing is that whatever form it takes, family saga, short story, crime novel, experimental fiction, her work is always absolutely readable.

Reading list: 

Kate Atkinson, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, 1995

Kate Atkinson, Not the End of the World, 2002

Kate Atkinson, Case Histories, 2004

Kate Atkinson, Life after Life, 2013

Kate Atkinson, A God in Ruins, 2015

Shirley will be teaching Life After Life: Reading Kate Atkinson at the Central Library from Thursday 15 October, 2-4.30pm for 8 meetings. If you would like to book on that course you can enrol online here Life After Life: Reading Kate Atkinson

Anti-Art by Ed Bruce


It’s interesting, but is it art?’ A familiar question, often heard being asked loudly in art galleries. But who is in charge of deciding what is art and what is not? Is there a council, an academy? Do we ‘know’ the rules of art, and if something doesn’t fit the art category can we definitely say it isn’t art? Throughout the history of art there certainly were attempts to formalise art and write a set of rules, for example the Royal Academy under Joshua Reynolds. Academic painting dominated the 19th century, but when the rules of art were broken by artists whose work did not conform, the French Academy of Fine Arts held a Salon of the Rejected to show how correct the Academy was in not accepting these ‘inferior’ paintings. These ‘Impressionists’, as they became known, cared about art, not ‘Art’ and begun a revolution that is still felt today.

The Art Historian E.H. Gombrich wrote that ‘there really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists’. This acknowledges that artists always need a bit of breathing space in which to make work. To have a strict notion of Art stifles creativity. Consequently, artists have always sought to invent new ways to depict the world by breaking away from the hackneyed notions of ‘orthodox’ Art. There is always an impulse to break the accepted rules, to make anti-Art.


I will be teaching a five week course that will explore this urge as experienced by artists during the 20th century. The early part of the period is often seen as a golden age of experimentation: Dada, Surrealism, Primitivism and Art Brut all began as a challenge to the staid conventions of the time. At an aviation fair in Paris, artists Marcel Duchamp and Constantin Brancusi discussed ‘what art could be’ in the future.

Painting is finished. Who can do anything better than this propeller? Can you?” asked Duchamp. Could engineered objects be art if the artist declared they were? Brancusi later discovered that one of his sculptures (Bird in Space) had been declared ‘not art’ on its way through US customs and therefore subject to import duties as a machine-part. Duchamp imagined the scenario where one could display a machine-made object in an art gallery and in 1917 submitted a urinal entitled Fountain to an art exhibition in New York.

Dada, one of the most important art movements of the 20th Century, emerged during the chaos of the First World War. It employed shock tactics in its refusal to conform to the conventions of the Art establishment. After the Second World War, Jean Dubuffet turned to children’s drawings to inspire what he called his ‘raw art’. The anti-Art impulse continued throughout the Modern period, through Pop, Fluxus and Happenings, and is still with us today of course – in the works of Mike Kelly, Sarah Lucas, Martin Creed and many others who kick against art with a capital A.

Ed Bruce will be teaching Anti-Art a five week course beginning on the 5 of October, 6-8pm. If you would like to book on this course you can do so by clicking here Anti-Art

Once More Unto the Breach

Agincourt 1415-2015: Half-day event of public talks

By Martin Heale, Senior Lecturer in Medieval History, University of Liverpool 

Saturday 6 June, 1.30 – 4.30pm

Management School, University of Liverpool


This year marks the 600th anniversary of Agincourt, one of the most important battles in English history, when Henry V defeated the French forces of Charles VI and prepared the way for the conquest of Normandy. Next month, the Liverpool Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies is holding is holding a half-day of public talks to explore the battle and its significance. It hasn’t proved possible to organise our event on the anniversary of the battle itself in October 2015, but D-Day (Saturday 6 June) seemed like the next best thing!

We are delighted to be able to welcome Anne Curry from the University of Southampton as our main speaker. Professor Curry is the world-leading authority on Agincourt and the author of the most definitive book on the battle: Agincourt: A New History. Two further talks will place the Agincourt in its wider context. Professor Christopher Allmand – the biographer of Henry V and expert on the Hundred Years War – will consider that famous king’s reputation. Our final talk, by professor of English at Liverpool and broadcaster Sarah Peverley, explores the most celebrated retelling of the battle of Agincourt, by William Shakespeare.

This event is open to everyone, and is free of charge. We will, however, need to ask for a contribution of £2.50/person to cover the cost of refreshments on the day. To book a place, please visit the following website, by Wednesday 29 May:

 PROGRAMME – Saturday 6 June, 1.30 – 4.30pm,Management School, University of Liverpool

1.15pm Arrival and registration

1.30pm Introduction and welcome

1.45pm Professor Anne Curry: ‘Agincourt. What Really Happened on 25 October 1415?’

Agincourt is one of the best known battles of the middle ages but still generates controversy today, even at its 600th anniversary. This talk will explore why it was fought where it was, why historians can’t agree on the numbers of soldiers on each side, why the English won so easily, and why we can’t find the French dead. It will take us to the heart of the debate on what can be known for certain and what is simply part of the ‘Agincourt legend’.

2.45pm Refreshments

3.15pm Professor Christopher Allmand:  ‘The Reign of Henry V in Recent Historical Writing

3.45pm Professor Sarah Peverley: ‘Staging Agincourt and Anglo-French Relations in Shakespeare’s Henry V

4.30pm Close

Hyperlinks for blog:


Liverpool International Gothic Festival with Continuing Education

Liverpool International Gothic Festival & Continuing Education

Haunting - MR James

The Liverpool International Gothic Festival (LIGF) aims to explore the gothic genre through art, film, literature and performance and we are delighted to be working with them in 2014 by providing a number of exciting activities that are available to everyone. Our contribution to the festival is detailed below. All events are priced £9.

Writing the Gothic,Saturday 29 November, 2.30-4.30pm With Eleanor Rees

Join poet Eleanor Rees to explore your affective responses to atmospheric, Gothic spaces. Beginning in a suitably spooky location you will be asked to respond to the environment as a text reading it’s meanings via your knowledge but also responding to how the place makes you feel. Drawing on this stimulus we will gather these sensations into associations and further language to create the content for a concluding writing task back in the warm.  We will think about our use of verbs and adjectives and how they can carry our bodily reactions over and onto the page. We will write the Gothic aslant and cross over to the other side!

We will be outside for part of this workshop so warm clothing is advised. Please bring a hardback notebook and pen. For more information on Eleanor’s work visit

The Irish Gothic, Thursday 27 November, 7-9pm With Dr. Niall Carson

This is a one off lecture on the genre of Irish Gothic Fiction and the historical context for its development. We will look at writers such as Bram Stoker, Sheridan Le Fanu, and Oscar Wilde to discuss the contribution of Ireland to Gothic fiction.

Film Screening: ‘Saint-Ange/ House of Voices’, Pascal Laugier (2004), Thursday 20 November, 6-9pm With Alison Smith

1960. A young woman arrives as cleaner for a deserted orphanage in the remote Alps. She finds one remaining resident, and unsettling murmurs and whispers as if the house retained traces of children departed. Pascal Laugier’s first feature is a subtler affair than his subsequent ‘Martyrs’, resting on the uncanniness of place and the fears which come when the past touches us too closely.

This screening features a brief introductory talk by Dr Alison Smith. Alison is Subject Lead for Film Studies at the University of Liverpool and a specialist in post-war French cinema. 

If you would like to know more about the LIGF and would like information about other activities available please visit their website or click here Liverpool International Gothic Festival website.

Maritime Public Lecture Series 2014 – World War: From the Front to the Margins

Our Maritime Public Lecture Series are free – however you will need to sign in on the day. If you would like to reserve a place beforehand you can do so by visiting our website Maritime Lectures 2014 .

All lectures take place at the Maritime Museum, Albert Dock – 1-2pm (except the 7 May which will take place 12-1pm).

May 7

* this lecture is 12-1pm

The Front Line at Sea: how the ships and men of the north-west coast held the line.

Discover the response of the north-west coast to the First World War: we associate ‘Make Do and Mend’ and rationing with the Second World War. This talk shows how, with losses outweighing the capacity to build, and the country facing starvation by April 1917, Britain turned to Lancashire trawlers, Mersey ferries, small Cheshire schooners, Liverpool-built ocean liners and concrete ships built in Barrow to make do and mend, and get vital supplies through.

Serena Cant, English Heritage
May 14


Lusitania: Liverpools liners and the First World War

Liverpools RMS Lusitania was a record-breaking world famous ship and her tragic sinking on 7 May 1915 by a German U-boat sent shockwaves around the world. Her loss was felt particularly keenly in Liverpool due to her strong ties to the city, and the fact that so many of her crew were drawn from the area. Find out more about Merseyside Maritime Museums upcoming exhibition to mark the centenary of the sinking, set against the backdrop of the pivotal role that Liverpools seafarers, liners and merchant ships played during the First World War


Ellie Moffat
Merseyside Maritime Museum
May 21


Constructing Conchies: Conscientious Objectors to the Military Service Act 1916

This lecture focuses on the men who conscientiously objected to compulsory military service in WW1, looking at who they were, why and how they resisted, how they were seen and what happened to them. Illustrated by contemporary images, the story told also includes reflections on more recent examples of objection and how we see these men today. The lecture draws upon over 20 years of research on conscientious objection to the military in England and, in particular, Lois’s monograph Telling Tales About Men: Conceptions of Conscientious Objectors to Military Service During the First World War (Manchester: MUP, 2009).

Lois S Bibbings University of Bristol
May 28 A Birkenhead Boy in Bordeaux: Wilfred Owen a Century Ago

Wilfred Owen is the quintessential war poet. He grew up in Oswestry, Birkenhead and Shrewsbury but in 1914 he was living in France. This talk will look at Wilfred Owen’s life in Bordeaux a hundred years ago, before looking at the arrival of the war in the summer of 1914 and Owen’s decision to enlist in 1915. The talk will consider his responses to the war and his reasons for choosing to fight. This lecture will be followed by a short poetry reading. Speaker Dr Guy Cuthbertson, Liverpool Hope University, author of Wilfred Owen (Yale University Press, 2014)

Guy Cuthbertson

Liverpool Hope University



Black Tommies: soldiers of African descent in the First World War

Join author Dr Ray Costello as he talks about his forthcoming book.Ray will give an illustrated talk on this untold history, which highlights some of the many forgotten British-born Black soldiers who played their part including Black Liverpudlians.

Dr Ray Costello

Centre for the Study of International Slavery

June 11 Veiled Warriors: the true story of allied nursing in the First World War

Although allied nurses were admired in their own time for their altruism and courage, their image was distorted by the lens of popular mythology. They came to be seen as self-sacrificing heroines, romantic foils to the male combatant and doctors’ handmaidens, rather than being appreciated as trained professionals performing significant work in their own right.Professor Christine Hallett will challenge these myths to reveal the true story. Drawing upon evidence from archives across the world, she will describe nurses’ wartime experiences and give a clear appraisal of their work and its contribution to the allied cause between 1914 and 1918, on both the Western and the Eastern Fronts.


Christine Hallett, Professor of Nursing History, University of Manchester



Faces of the First World War by Dr Kay Chadwick

Armistice Day sees the launch of a collaborative blog, based in the Department of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies (CLAS), to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.


French refugees in 1918

1914-2014: a portrait gallery will profile the individual stories of the wartime relatives and family friends of University staff and students.

Dr Kay Chadwick, Reader in French Historical Studies, who is leading the project, said: “The blog focuses on the human history of the First World War.

“It represents a great opportunity to take advantage of the international nature of the University community to look afresh at the First World War”
“It represents a great opportunity to take advantage of the international nature of the University community to look afresh at the First World War from different perspectives, in order to bring alive what may feel like a remote event, to commemorate our ancestors, and to prompt reflection on processes of memory.

“If anyone in your family still remembers someone who lived through the First World War, or knows a story about someone who did, then please contribute to the project, and tell their story.”

The launch stories on the blog feature four different wartime experiences lived by relatives of staff in CLAS. Further details about the project and how to participate can be found at: . Comments and queries can be sent to .

1914-2014: a portrait gallery is part of the Imperial War Museum’s (IWM) Centenary Partnership, a network of over a thousand local, regional, national and international cultural and educational organisations from twenty-seven countries worldwide. Its aim is to enable millions of people across the globe to discover more about life in the First World War.


Reassessing the impact of the slave trade on the economic development and material culture of Liverpool and its hinterland by Alex Robinson

Reassessing the impact of the slave trade on the economic development and material culture of Liverpool and its hinterland

By Alex Robinson

Research on the transatlantic slave trade has been transformed by the internet and digitisation of records. On the one hand, the creation of the National Archives website Tracing your Caribbean Roots has facilitated the attempts by the descendants of enslaved Africans to get to grips with their family history. On the other hand, three recent research programmes have resulted in new evidence about transatlantic slavery – internationally, the Slave Trade Database, nationally, the Legacy of British Slavery Database and locally new field research which has at last meant we can quantify the impact of the slave trade and the plantation trade upon the local and national economy and trace the stream of finance into the key investment and infrastructure projects which made Liverpool the second city of the British Empire.
The Legacy of British Slavery Database has had quite a lot of media attention: it has put online the records of the compensation paid to slave holders after Emancipation in 1834. This database has shown for example that John Gladstone, the father of 19th-century Prime Minister, William Gladstone, received £106,769 (modern equivalent £83m) for the 2,508 slaves he owned across nine plantations. Chancellors and prime ministers figure more than once in this database; one of Mr Cameron’s great-grand-uncles, the second Earl of Fife, was awarded £4,101, equal to more than £3m today, to compensate him for the 202 slaves who were emancipated on the Grange Sugar Estate in Jamaica in 1834. I have Cameron ancestry myself – does this mean I could be implicated? Of course I am implicated – we are all implicated either as descendants of enslaved workers who were forcibly transported from Africa or as descendants of people who prospered as result of transatlantic slavery.
For this course we will use this this new evidence to examine the impact of transatlantic slavery nationally and explore its impact locally, on Liverpool and its immediate hinterland – the Wirral, Cheshire and South West Lancashire, looking at individual case studies of families with slave trade and slave holding backgrounds-like the Earles, the Gladstones, the Gregsons and the Heywoods, for example. The digital information will allow us estimate the importance of transatlantic slavery to the development of the local economy and its material culture, but also to trace this contribution down to the present day.

This course is run in partnership with the Centre for the Study of International Slavery.

Alex will begin a 10 week course on this subject from Thursday 30 January at 126 Mount Pleasant and if you would like to enrol on this course you can do so by emailing or phoning 0151 794 6900.

However if you would like to learn more about the history of slavery, the Centre for the Study of International Slavery (CSIS) – a partnership between the University of Liverpool and National Museums Liverpool has a number of events and workshops. For more information on the CSIS please visit their website at