This Week’s War: 166

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“This is Katherine’s birthday and she begins her 50th year… Never was there a younger woman at 50 years: and tis’ all because her heart is good and there is no hardness or hardening in it.”

Entry dated Tuesday 25th September 1917 regarding Katherine Glasier, John Glasier’s wife. Diary of John Glasier [GP/2/1/24].

QE2 Launch 50th Anniversary

This week marked 50 years since the launch of the Queen Elizabeth 2 (or QE2) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Often described as one of Cunard’s greatest ships, the QE2 travelled over 5,800,000 miles and carried almost 2.5 million passengers during a career that spanned 40 years.

QE2. The Architectural Press Ltd copyright (D387/1/4/3)

By the end of the 1950s, discussion over the replacement of the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth was taking place. The decision to replace the ‘Queens’ was deemed to be of national importance and as such a special committee, known as the Chandos Committee was created to advise the Government and to determine whether such a project was economically viable. Originally Cunard had wanted to build two new liners with the help of a Government subsidy, however the committee’s report proposed that the Government loan Cunard £18 million towards the construction of one vessel. The project became known as ‘Q3’ and six British shipyards were asked to tender for the ship’s construction – this prestigious project was a huge opportunity for British shipbuilders to construct a transatlantic liner.

QE2 interior design. The Architectural Press Ltd copyright (D387/3/1/1/4)

Increased opposition to the building of Q3; in part due to the decline in British

QE2 Clydebank workers – The Architecture Press Ltd copyright (D387/1/4/5)

shipbuilding coupled with the growing competition from air travel resulted in Cunard’s Chairman, Sir John Brocklebank announcing in October 1961 that the plan was to be postponed. By 1963 the scheme had been altered in response to the growing popularity of transatlantic air travel. The new proposal was to build one slightly smaller liner which could traverse the Panama and Suez canals and would primarily be used for cruising (dual-purpose).

Built by John Brown & Co, Clydebank the delivery date for the ‘Q4’ as it had been codenamed, was scheduled for May 1968. On 20 September 1967 the keel was launched by Queen Elizabeth II and the ship was named Queen Elizabeth 2.

 

One of the shipyards asked to tender for Q3 was The Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Limited, Glasgow. While updating catalogue descriptions for the Cunard Archive we recently came across the following record which contains the specification for the Geared Turbines and Machinery Installation for the ‘Proposed Cunard Express Liner’. However a lack of contextual information such as date and name of the ship means that the catalogue description needs updating – if anyone has any information about this item please feel free to contact us.

The Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Limited, Glasgow – Q3? (D42)

Alongside the business papers within the Cunard Archive, researchers may also be interested in some of the collections within the Cunard Associated Deposits; namely D387 images relating to the QE2 (The Architectural Press Ltd) and D922 Papers of Mr. T. Kameen, Technical Director for Cunard.

New Accessions: Guides to Health

As part of our series introducing new summer acquisitions to SC&A, we are pleased to showcase two items from 1854 and 1890.

SPEC 2017.a.023

Controul of the passions, printed in 1854, is, on the surface, a guide to the “duties and obligations of the married state”. With a brief nod towards conjugal relations the text focuses primarily on “self pollution”, gonorrhoea and other venereal diseases and includes some choice images of the ravages of syphilis. This item is exceptionally rare, despite it being printed as the twenty first edition, with no copy with this imprint being recorded elsewhere. In keeping with the theme of sexual health and propriety, the second acquisition is The golden referee: a guide to health, printed in 1890.

SPEC 2017.a.024

Heavy on “the injurious effects of solitary and sexual indulgence” one of the most interesting aspects of this book is a printed note on the inside upper wrapper stating that the copyright for the item is owned by Joseph Thornton Woodhead. The same Mr. Woodhead was the owner of the Liverpool Museum of Anatomy, a notorious attraction which remained open in Liverpool until 1937. On the lower wrapper is an advertisement for the Museum, previously at 29 Paradise Street, which seeks to present it as “An interesting collection! An intellectual study!! And a public advantage!!!”. In reality it offered a mix of models and diagrams of the human body, discreet consultations for men with sexual problems and even courses on midwifery with a heavy tone of morality, rather than titillation.

Already included in the collections here at SC&A is a copy of the descriptive catalogue of the Museum at shelfmark Y87.3.222, which includes a matching advertisement to the one found on The golden referee.

SPEC Y87.3.222

For further reading on medical museums the Sydney Jones Library holds:

  • Morbid curiosities: Medical museums in nineteenth-century Britain by Samuel J.M.M. Alberti
  • Medical museums: Past, present, future edited by Samuel J.M.M. Alberti and Elizabeth Hallam.
  • Anatomy as spectacle: Public exhibitions of the body from 1700 to present by Elizabeth Stephens.

This Week’s War: 164

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September 1917
Goods Received                                  Goods Distributed
From Boston per Mr Stewart
Playing Cards                                        To No. 57 General Hospital B
Books                                                     To Comrades Association
Games                                                    ” Y.M.C.A Camp B.E.F

Items donated by the wives of active servicemen aboard Cunard ships to be distributed to the indicated areas. From the Cunard Archive [Cunard Women’s War Service Association Report for 1917, D42/C1/1/22/2].

The Week’s War: 163

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“Exciting discovery that Swedish ambassador… has been acting as a German political agent… Sweden called upon to explain.”

Entry dated Saturday 8th September 1917, Diary of John Glasier [GP/2/1/24].

New Accessions: Verse

SC&A was recently able to acquire some 22 items printed or published in Liverpool during the late eighteen or early nineteenth centuries, to add to its already extensive collections of local history, literature and publishing. Several items were displayed in Manuscripts and More on 17 August. Among the rest of the recent acquisitions are several in verse. 150 years before The Mersey Sound, Liverpool already had a busy community of poets such as Sarah Medley, whose book of Original poems: sacred and miscellaneous (1807; SPEC 2017.a.019) was printed here by James Smith; Robert Merdant, author of Country people; or, Pastoral poetry (1810), printed locally by Thomas Kaye (1810; SPEC 2017.a.008), and T. G. Lace, whose Ode on the present state of Europe was printed by M. Galway & Co in 1811, during the Napoleonic wars (SPEC 2016.PF1.14).

The vision for coquettes. An Arabian tale (SPEC 2017.c.006) a poem of unknown authorship, was printed by John M’Creery in 1804 and sold by, among others, the well-known Liverpool poet, abolitionist and bookseller Edward Rushton from his shop in Paradise Street.

An extract from The vision of coquettes

Several of the new items feature William Roscoe (1753-1851), the most prominent member of Liverpool’s intellectual community at this date and its most prolific author. These new items include several political pamphlets and one of his scientific works, A new arrangement of the plants of the monandrian class usually called scitamineae, published in London during Roscoe’s brief career as MP for Liverpool (1807; SPEC 2017.c.008).

SC&A also now hold one of the few copies in the UK of his anti-slavery campaign poem, The wrongs of Africa (in two parts: London 1787-8; SPEC 2017.b.011). Roscoe’s writing career had started with an Ode, printed in a few copies in 1774, which was then added to a meditative verse account of the area he was brought up in: Mount Pleasant: A descriptive poem which was printed at Warrington in 1777 (SPEC G11A(32.5)). The wrongs of Africa was his next poem, and marked a complete change of direction, inaugurating as it did the work of a circle of abolitionist poets living and working in Liverpool. These included Rushton, whose West-Indian eclogues appeared later in 1787 (in London); the Irish émigré engraver Hugh Mulligan, author of Poems chiefly on slavery and oppression (London, 1788), Peter Newby’s The wrongs of Almoona (printed by H. Hodgson in Liverpool, 1788), and Thomas Hall’s Achmet to Selim, or, The dying negro (printed in Liverpool by M’Creery in 1792). Part one of Roscoe’s poem was published in May 1787 and part two in February 1788; it was republished in Philadelphia later that year. More copies of the Liverpool printing survive in America than do in Britain; ours is one of eight copies known in UK libraries. It was formerly in Worcester Public Library.

Roscoe’s poem was published in an era when writing by slaves was, for obvious reasons, hardly known at all. Letters of the late Ignatius Sancho, an African, had appeared in 1782, and The interesting narrative of the life of Olaudah Equiano, one of the earliest formal autobiographies by a former slave, came out in 1789. Meanwhile abolition-minded writers in Liverpool and Bristol supplied the deficiency through the medium of poetic scenes and narratives in which slaves, normally denied a voice, were imagined to state their feelings to a sympathetic readership. The point was to engage public feeling by focusing on realities of life on the plantations and the suffering of the enslaved Africans. Roscoe complemented his verse tale with a soberly-argued prose account, A general view of the African slave-trade, demonstrating its injustice and impolicy: with hints towards a bill for its abolition (1788).

The poem is more psychological and emotive than economic or political in focus. According to the ‘Advertisement’ to the Part Two, it was originally planned in three parts, to focus sequentially on Africa, the passage to America, and the colonies, but only two parts were completed. Part One asks readers to transform the ‘sensibility’ they bring to the reading of sentimental fiction to active human sympathy in a pressingly real situation. It also addresses slave masters and the captains of slaving ships and a local ‘veteran trafficker’, in an attempt to provoke examination of the strange and twisted psychology involved in the enslavement of other human beings. It takes readers on an imaginary journey to Angola, portrays the peaceful life of the inhabitants before traders arrive, and blames the traders for corrupting local customs and covering the continent with fear. An inset story of two brothers, Arebo and Corymbo, caught up in a devastating raid, gives the narrative direct human appeal. Part Two imagines the passage to America from the perspective of the captured Africans. A planned revolt is bloodily thwarted. Its leader, Cymbello, an African prince educated in political principles similar to Roscoe’s own, and partly formed on the model of Aphra Behn’s seventeenth-century ‘royal slave’ Oroonoko, dies courageously with his lover in the carnage.  The last pages of the poem are devoted to a wide-ranging history of the concept of Freedom and a final address from Freedom herself, prophesying her final victory over the tyrants and enslavers of Europe and the world.

A year after Part Two was published, the French Revolution appeared to begin to dismantle the institutions of oppression (as they were perceived by Roscoe and his political allies). It would be another twenty years before the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act finally passed the House of Commons, and decades more before the practice itself was outlawed; but poems like Roscoe’s were an important initial element in the campaign, defiantly continued by Roscoe and his colleagues in Liverpool, Bristol and London, to bring the atrocities of the trade to public view and to stimulate human sympathy for an otherwise largely voiceless and invisible mass of people. It is fitting that this rare printed item should return to the place where it was written.

A guest blog post written by Paul Baines from the Department of English.

This Week’s War: 161

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August 1917
Goods Received                                  Goods Distributed
From Boston
2 C/s [cases] from Franklin Relief        To Bureau
Assn.
1 ” Magazines                                        Recreation Camps in France, books,                                                                                      magazines, playing cards, dominoes, draughts and                                                                boards. To 2 Casualty clearing stations – Playing                                                                  cards, Cigarettes.

Items donated by the wives of active servicemen aboard Cunard ships to be distributed to the indicated areas. From the Cunard Archive [Cunard Women’s War Service Association Report for 1917, D42/C1/1/22/2].

This Week’s War: 160

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“Drove to the village & called on Bradford invalid home from the front after being gassed…”

Entry dated Wednesday August 22nd 1917. Diary of Alfred Osten Walker [LUL MS 9].

New Acquisitions: August

A bumper month for new acquisitions here in SC&A. One of the main collecting areas for the department is items printed in, or about, Liverpool.

SPEC 2017.b.003 – Memoirs of mammoth

Memoirs of mammoth was printed in Liverpool in 1806 by G.F. Harris. The author, Thomas Ashe (1770-1835), travelled in America and sent the first mammoth bones back to Britain. The work details the discovery and composition of the mammoth bones which were held at the Liverpool Museum.

SPEC 2016.P2.07 – The geology of the hundred of Wirral

This pamphlet, by John Cunningham and printed in 1864 by J. Oliver in Birkenhead, details the geology of the Wirral with particular reference to the water supply. Items printed by J. Oliver are exceptionally rare with only four works reported to COPAC, this item is not among them making it the only known copy, particularly nice as it is dedicated to a Thomas Duncan by the author.

 

SPEC 2017.c.005 – An address to the merchants of Liverpool

SCA has a wealth of material relating to the maritime history of Liverpool and this 1806 stab-sewn pamphlet is an excellent addition to the collections. Willis Earle, a local timber merchant, was elected to investigate the financial accounts of the Liverpool Dock Estate, it includes a recent history of the docks and the effect of recent Parliamentary Acts on the workings of the port.

SPEC 2017.b.010 – A form of prayer, and a new collection of Psalms

This 1763 volume is one of only 11 copies reported to the ESTC and is beautifully bound in gilt tooled black morocco. The text is a first edition of the experimental non-conformist liturgy at the Octagon Chapel in Liverpool which was developed by Philip Holland and Richard Godwin.

SPEC 2017.b.010 – provenance

The volume bears the names of Robert Pilkington, Joseph Pilkington and Esther Holland. A pencil note explains: “Given by Esther Holland who was the daughter of Robert Pilkington, to her cousin Joseph Pilkington”.

SPEC 2017.a.010 – The stereotype ready reckoner

The final item in this collection of Liverpool related items is an 1814 ready reckoner, owned by an officer of excise. A ready reckoner is a table listing standard calculations such as weights and measures and rates of interest.

These items are available to consult in our reading room, you can find out how to make an appointment on our new website.