Cammell Laird proud to support Made of Iron cultural programme ahead of season launch
Cammell Laird has lent its support to the first in a series of exhibitions and cultural events celebrating the story of Wirral’s shipbuilding and maritime heritage.
Starting tomorrow (11), Made of Iron will use a series of exhibitions, performances and cultural projects to share the stories of Wirral-built ships and those whose lives were shaped by the shipyard.
Cammell Laird is proud to be associated with the season’s opening exhibition, Six Vessels. This free exhibition charts the stories behind HMS Birkenhead, Ma Robert, CSS Alabama, HMT Leasowe Castle, HMS Ark Royal and the RMS Mauretania. Featuring artwork and rarely seen artefacts, it will run at the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum until September 22.
Part of Wirral Borough of Culture 2019, Made of Iron also comes as the borough takes its place on the world stage as the birthplace of one of the most advanced polar research vessels in the world – the RRS Sir David Attenborough. Currently being built at Cammell Laird in Birkenhead, the ship features state-of-the-art facilities allowing researchers to make new discoveries about our planet.
Lucy Barrow, Assistant Director for Culture & Visitor Economy at Wirral Council commented: “The role of shipbuilding in Wirral – past, present and future – is a fascinating story which we wanted to bring to the forefront in our Borough of Culture year. Our programme this year is all about discovery, exploration and the great outdoors, and Made of Iron really ties all those elements together.
“As well as looking back, the programme will also look at what is happening right now in the borough and the future of shipbuilding. The RRS Sir David Attenborough being built at Cammell Laird is an incredible technological achievement and is putting a global spotlight on Wirral.”
Tony Graham, Chief Operating Officer at Cammell Laird, added “The Wirral is the womb of over a thousand iron ships. Building iron ships brought life to the economy, helped people make a living and made lives more meaningful. Cammell Laird is proud to be associated with the Six Vessels exhibition which tells an important story. A story that demonstrates that the Wirral people have iron in their genes.”
The Made of Iron programme revealed so far includes:
Made of Iron launches with Six Vessels from Saturday 11 May at the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum. This free exhibition looks at six significant Wirral-built ships and their role in maritime history, with rarely seen artefacts on display alongside popular artwork from the Williamson’s collection and newly commissioned work by Ian Fennelly. The ships include the HMS Birkenhead, Ma Robert, CSS Alabama, HMT Leasowe Castle, HMS Ark Royal and the RMS Mauretania.
The research for Six Vessels has been undertaken by local historian, Elizabeth Davey who has worked in partnership with Wirral Museums Service staff, Wirral Archives, Cammell Laird, Wirral Libraries, National Museums Liverpool and Wirral History and Heritage Association. The exhibition runs until Sunday 22 September and entry is free.
A Community Made of Iron
As part of Made of Iron, a digital archive of stories, photographs and artefacts is being developed to capture the social history and experiences of workers, families and communities linked to Wirral’s shipbuilding and maritime heritage. Anyone who would like to participate or nominate a friend or relative can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register their interest.
Down Our Street
This musical play by Wirral writer Brian McCann, will be staged at the Floral Pavilion from Thursday 29 August – Sunday 1 September. The show celebrates life in the Cammell Laird shipyard from the industrial revolution to the present day with drama, comedy and song.
Close Enough to Touch
Later this year, the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool will present Close Enough to Touch. The play is a dramatic retelling of the tragic story of the HMS Thetis which sank in 1939 with the loss of 99 lives and will be performed at the historic Birkenhead Priory, which sits next to of the shipyard.
More events and exhibitions linked to Made of Iron will be announced later in the year.
Wirral’s Borough of Culture programme is supported through funding from Arts Council England. For further information about Made of Iron, visit imaginewirral.com.
Main image: AJW Burgess & EF Skinner – Visit of their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary to Cammell Laird, Birkenhead, 14 May 1917. Courtesy of Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, Birkenhead; Wirral Museums Service.