This week’s war: 122


I had a sad letter from Mundays mother this morning saying that she has had official notice that her son, previously reported “missing” has now been reported “killed in action”. It is only what we feared, but all the same it is bad to realize as a fact. He was the only son of his mother and she a widow

Last night shortly after 11 o’clock the lights suddenly went down, and, as I was going to bed, almost out. I did not associate it with a warning as to Zeppelins at the time, but now find out this was the idea. There is no news in the paper and I daresay there will be none.

28 November 1916. Letter from John Sampson, University Librarian, to his wife [Sampson Archive SP8/1/2/11/86].

This week’s war: 116


Another lecturer is dead – killed of wounds – Handyside lecturer in Philosophy. Strangely enough he took over the very platoon vacated by Herdmen.

23 October 1916. Letter from John Sampson, University Librarian, to his wife [Sampson Archive SP8/1/2/11/75].

This week’s war: 113


We have a great deal of the last air raid. It seems certain that they got to Preston, Wigan and Bolton (some say Warrington) and some suburb of M’chester and did a lot of damage, Dora’s maid told them that “There was not a soul left alive in Wigan”!!! I have half a mind to go there this afternoon and see for myself.

27 September 1916. Letter from John Sampson, University Librarian, to his wife [Sampson Archive SP8/1/2/11/69]. This week’s war: 113.

The Bidston Lighthouse and Signals

Nicola Scott, Assistant Curator Decorative Art at National Museums Liverpool, discovers a fascinating aspect of Liverpool’s maritime history in the Special Collections Library.

I recently chose a jug in our decorative art collections to put on display at the Walker Art Gallery. One side of the jug features a view of the Bidston Lighthouse and Signals, with a key showing the different flags of the signalling system in colour. This subject was a popular design on cream-coloured earthenware in late 18th century England and its representation on ceramics has been a source of interest to writers ever since.

April2016 jugfullNML

©National Museums Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery

The Bidston Lighthouse and Signals

I decided to do some research on the jug and aim to publish this. I wanted to establish when and where the jug was made.  I thought that identifying the print on the jug would help and began by finding out more about the Bidston Signals themselves.

The Bidston Signals was a fairly simple system designed to give advance warning to merchants that their ship was in Liverpool Bay. Vessels were allocated a flag, which was hoisted from a particular flagpole when the ship was seen in the bay. The ship owners were able to see the signals on Bidston Hill from the town of Liverpool. This became a famous tourist attraction and people came to marvel at this well-known landmark.

I discovered that over the years the number of flags and ship owners represented grew from 14 in 1778 to 195 in 1820. The version on the jug lists 75 ship owners, shown here:

April2016 jugNML

©National Museums Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery

April2016 1820frontI thought that if I could identify the date of the print on the jug, this would give a clue as to the date of manufacture. My search took me to the wonderful Special Collections Library, a valuable resource for original archival research.

A rare book containing 19th century pamphlets [SPEC G35.19(11)] proved to be an important piece of evidence showing the Bidston Signals in 1820. It was a real privilege to be able to view this, particularly as it was on display at the time at the Victoria Gallery and Museum.


This print with 195 flags flying in 1820 showed that the jug with 75 flags was much earlier.


My quest to find the exact print on the jug proved elusive and the search goes on! Taking other factors into account, I concluded that the jug was probably made between 1800 and 1805 at the Herculaneum Pottery in Liverpool.  You can see the jug in Room 13 at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.  It is on display with other ceramics made in the city until Sunday 15 May.

Moira Lindsay, Curator, Art Collections, Victoria Gallery and Museum added to the quest this picture of a mug from the ceramics collection, with another version of the signals.

This week’s war: 67


We passed through villages and towns lying in absolute ruins. Some of the most beautiful buildings in Europe, going back for many hundreds of years, and which were regarded as models of architecture, we riddled or completely demolished. In these towns the churches in every case suffered most. In many towns we passed through there was not a living human being, except a few Belgian guards who were living in cellars.

November 1915. Account of a visit to the Front by J.E. Redmond, M.P, Chairman, Irish Parliamentary Party, in November 1915. [Special Collections SPEC S/D525(P.C.19)]

This week’s war: 66


I embrace you with all my heart, courage, mother, we shall see each other again someday, kiss my brothers and sisters for me and tell them your son knew how to die. Now I am going to lie down, it is already late, to be ready for the execution to-morrow. I forgive everybody, friends and enemies, I pardon, because they do not pardon me

November 7th 1915. Diary entry written November 7th 1915 by Leon Trulin, executed on November 8th for smuggling various documents to the allies.
Source:  Lille: Before and during the war [Special Collections SPEC S/D525.M62.4]

This week’s war: 53


I know that what we have done has not fallen short, but has far exceeded what was expected from us, but what we have done is only part of what we are going to do. (Cheers.) We have not yet shot our bolt. We have not yet been able to put forth our full strength on land. We had to create a new army; we are still creating a new army (Cheers.)

August 4th 1915. Speech delivered by A. J. Balfour, First lord of Admiralty at the London Opera House, As reported in the London Press. [Special Collections SPEC S/D525(P.C.164)]

Edward Rushton


From Sat 1 Nov 2014 until 10 May 2015, Liverpool is celebrating the bicentenary of Edward Rushton (1756-1814) “Liverpool’s most radical son”. Contemporary volumes of Rushton’s poems, letters and other writings from Special Collections and Archives are on loan to exhibitions at the International Slavery Museum (opens Fri 7 Nov) and the Victoria Gallery & Museum, as part of Unsung, a city-wide project celebrating the bicentenary, activism and legacy of Edward Rushton. Funded by the Heritage Lottery and led by DaDaFest as part of DaDaFest International 2014.