This Week’s War: 189


‘We are awaiting the Boche onslaught: the latest date is March 25th. Meanwhile both sides practice raids and so far we have had much the best of the exchanges as our men are ready and able for the fight while the Boche is the very opposite.’

Letter sent to Percy Bates from a friend at the General Headquarters of the British Armies in France, dated 18th March 1918 [D641/2/1/6].

This Week’s War: 184


Wounded Soldiers’ Concerts

‘The second concert was held on February 9, Alderman M. H. Maxwell, J. P., presiding. The proceedings were an unqualified success. The star turn was Miss Ella Shields, whose songs were greatly appreciated by the wounded soldiers.’

Extract from Cunard staff magazine, February 1918 issue [D42/PR5/1].

2017 retrospect

2017 was another busy year in Special Collections and Archives. To celebrate Burns Night, we have curated some of the highlights: collections that were conserved, catalogued, acquired, and the people whom we have been thrilled to meet and work alongside this past year.

February – Peers Symposium attendees

  • March – always a busy month for teaching classes, including the popular Children’s Literature module (see below photo). We also welcomed several visitors with special links to our collections, including a relation of Grace Wilson, the long term partner and wife of John Wyndham.

    March – Dr Esme Miskimmin leading a seminar using SC&A material for ENGL573 Children’s Literature module. ®McCoy_Wynne

  • April – Cunard archivist Siân Wilks worked hard to ensure that the catalogues for the Chairman’s papers (an excellent resource for business and maritime history) are available online; we hosted a meeting of members of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association; our reading room reference collection overhaul was completed, undertaken by our former Assistant Librarian Lucy Evans and Archives Cataloguer Josette Reeves; and Special Collections and Archives Manager Jenny Higham delivered the session ‘Using Primary Sources’ for the Researcher KnowHow programme.
  • May –  filming took place in the archive for the UKTV Yesterday channel documentary series “Nazi Victory: The Post War Plan“, using University Archive material to explore the university life of a German student who was suspected of being a spy during WWII; we also installed a new exhibition: ‘Thomas Rickman (1776-1841) Architect and Antiquary’. The exhibition was curated by University of Liverpool academic Dr Alex Buchanan as part of a larger AHRC funded project. On Light Night, our Science Fiction Librarian Andy Sawyer interviewed John Higgins on stage at the Victoria Gallery & Museum to coincide with the Beyond Dredd and Watchmen: The Art of John Higgins.

    May – Thomas Rickman Exhibition

    May – John Higgins (L) and Andy Sawyer (R) chatting about John Higgin’s work

  • June – the first undergraduate open day of the year, at which staff were thrilled to speak to so many prospective students; and a large amount of Science Fiction material was transported to the Barbican Centre in London for their Into the Unknown exhibition (Science Fiction was certainly well travelled throughout the year in general).
  • July – many boxes from the Liverpool Poets archive were transported to London for the Southbank Centre exhibition The Mersey Sound at 50our reading room was refreshed through the acquisition of a new microfilm system, new specialist book rests, and new professional photographs were hung on the walls, giving a behind-the-scenes look at our collections and activities.

    July – a photograph of some of the beautiful spines and tooling work in our collections! ®McCoy_Wynne

  • August – we showed off our feline collections and friends for International Cat Day. Thankfully, all the pet cats featured in the blog post are dealing with their new found fame in a very grounded manner. Our University Archivist, Jo Klett, also completed a data cleanse of records to prepare for the launch of a new archives catalogue in the future.

    August – International Cat Day featured Oldham 173, The Tale of Tom Kitten

  • September – aside from greeting students both returning and new for the start of the 2017-18 session, we welcomed our new Graduate Library Assistant Michaela Garland to the team, bade farewell to Beth Williams for the Master of Archives and Records Management course, and former Graduate Library Assistant Robyn Orr took up the new post of Library Assistant, with responsibility for the day-to-day reading room service. The Unsettling Scientific Stories researchers visited us to consult the Science Fiction archive; and we also opened a new exhibition, Roscoe’s University: Liverpool Royal Institution 1817 – 2017, to celebrate the bicentenary of the Liverpool Royal Institution.

    September – Roscoe’s University: Liverpool Royal Institution 1817-2017 exhibition

  • October – we fittingly marked the 50th anniversary of the last voyage of the Queen Mary by showing on our blog the exciting new accessions donated that month; we hosted our Library colleagues to view our some of our new acquisitions in a Staff Open Afternoon; more enthusiastic prospective undergraduates visited us on the second open day of the year; SC&A staff took part choosing our favourite books for the Libraries Week fun on the Library Instagram; and these events were a final hurrah for our Assistant Librarian Lucy Evans, who left us to join the British Library as Curator of Printed Heritage Collections. She leaves a great legacy in many research-enabling catalogue records and on social media, including her work with the ERC funded TIDE project.

    October – D1169/1/2, The Queen Mary puzzle

  • November – we kicked off this month with a bang through a blog post on bonfire night; we also welcomed Niamh Delaney to the team as the Assistant Librarian, who has been very busy cataloguing our Special Collections material and keeping up SCA’s profile on social media since her arrival; we were also pleased to welcome visitor Christopher Graham, Vice President of the Council of the University of Liverpool, to view material from his time as President of the Guild; further, after the event The Bicentenary of Liverpool Royal Institution: A Celebration, we hosted attendees to view our Liverpool Royal Institution exhibition.

    November – Attendees of the Bicentenary event viewing the Liverpool Royal Institution material in our exhibition area.

    November – an eager attendee viewing the Liverpool Royal Institution exhibition.

  • December – and finally, our festive season and winter themed material took centre stage on both the University Library twitter (#livunisca) and a board displayed at the entrance of the Sydney Jones Library; we launched our SC&A merchandise (available to purchase at our reception during opening hours); and our collections reached dizzying heights to celebrate International Mountains Day 2017.

    December – The merchandise table located in the SC&A reception area – available to purchase Monday to Friday, 9:30am – 4:45pm.

    December – SC&A Merchandise, including notebooks, pencils, erasers, magnets, bookmarks, and more!

December – one of our lovely Special Collections items (reference JUV.530) found on the #livunisca twitter advent

We wish our readers and visitors a happy new year and we look forward to welcoming  old and new faces in 2018. To arrange an appointment, please do email us on and our staff will be happy to assist.

Archives at Altitude

Monday 11th December marks International Mountain Day 2017, which this year will highlight as its theme ‘Mountains under pressure: Climate, Hunger, and Migration.’ As humans, our relationship with the dizzying heights of the world’s highest terrains is witnessed through the writings of generations of intrepid explorers, artists, and highlanders. Experiences of the harsh quality of mountain life, as well as the dangers of summiting the highest peaks, can be found in many of the writings found within SC&A. Ultimately though, the following items show that we are still captivated by majestic mountainous regions.

Spanish Mountain Life (1955) by Juliette de Baïracli Levy

Expert veterinary herbalist Juliette de Baïracli Levy writes in her memoir Spanish Mountain Life (SPEC Scott MacFie D.6.7) about her experience of living amongst the gypsy community of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The memoir paints a stark portrait of the primitive nature of mountain life and details how the Lanjarón community was impacted by the shadow of disease. The author’s own battle and eventual triumph over typhus is evoked. De Baïracli Levy exclaims her gratitude to the mountain for its abundant herbs and ideal climate: “later the mountain gave us back our health.”


Illustrations of the Passes of the Alps, by which Italy Communicates with France, Switzerland, and Germany (1828 – 1829) by William Brockedon

A traditional ‘rite of passage’ trip for generations of upper class young men was to undertake an educational European adventure known as ‘The Grand Tour.’ From the 17th to mid-19th centuries travellers would be able to experience the cultural highlights that Europe had to offer, including the dramatic Alpine landscapes from Germany to Italy. Brockedon’s volumes containing illustrations and routes of passage through the Alps (SPEC SPENCE 91-92) offered an insight into what these young men were to expect when journeying through the monumental passes that would have been worlds away from the streets of London.


Brochures [1927, 1992] (Cunard Archive)

There is little else in the world of travel that is more luxurious than a relaxing cruise. These items found within the Cunard Archive depict just some of the incredible destinations passengers can be treated to on a Cunard cruise. For the more adventurous, destinations include the Norwegian fjords and Alaskan glaciers, where passengers are transported into the wild.

– D42/PR3/10/44

– D42-ADD/28/2


Mountaineering Club Papers [1958-1984] (University Archive)

– A161/117

Here at the University of Liverpool, one of the more physically active societies students can join is the Mountaineering Club. The Club recently celebrated its 80th anniversary and through the years has organised sponsored climbs, competitions, and trips both at home and abroad, traditions that are continued today by the modern Club.


Everest is Climbed (1954) by Wilfrid Noyce and Richard Taylor

This educational Puffin picture book for young readers details the first successful attempt to summit Mount Everest, relating the experience of English mountaineer Wilfrid Noyce, who was part of the British Expedition in 1953 (OLDHAM 600). The illustrations and diagrams vividly portray the extreme conditions the teams faced, whilst the words of Noyce remind the reader of the perilous nature of the climb and the endurance required to conquer and overall to survive the highest mountain in the world.


The Lord of the Rings (1991) by J. R. R. Tolkien, illustrated by Alan Lee

In Tolkien’s epic fantasy world of Middle Earth, ancient folklore and mythology come together to create an intricate narrative bursting with well-rounded characters and complex locations. The central journey that Frodo Baggins embarks upon in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (PR6039.O32.A6LOR 1991) revolves around the quest to destroy the One Ring, the most powerful and dangerous of all Rings. The volatile and mysterious qualities of mountains and volcanos that is commonly reflected in literature is portrayed in the ferocious fires of Mount Doom. The mountain being where the One Ring was forged and in turn where it must be destroyed.

All of the above are available to view in the SC&A reading room between our opening hours of 9:30am – 16:45pm. Please contact us at for an appointment (but don’t worry, we don’t have ‘peak’ hours).

This Week’s War: 174


November 1917

1 C/s Hospital goods consisting of 
2 Doz. Hot Water Bags                         6 Doz to Seaforth Military
13 ” Tooth Brushes                               Hospital
6 ” Calox                                               Comrades Assn.
12 ” Face Cloths                                    ” ”
4 ” Hair Combs

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].

New Accession: Cunard Associated Deposits

Earlier this month SC&A received a donation of material commemorating the Queen Mary and her launch in 1934 and memorabilia from a Sylvania Mediterranean cruise in 1965. These items were donated by Kit Syder in memory of her Grandparents, Tom and Hilda Roby who collected the items through their connection with the John Roby Ltd Company (later Roby & Utley) and as passengers on a Cunard cruise. This accession is particularly timely as today marks 50 years since the Queen Mary made her final voyage from Southampton to her new home in Long Beach, California.

D1169/1/1 – The Journal of Commerce and Shipping, Telegraph (1 Oct 1934)

It is perhaps difficult today to appreciate how significant the Queen Mary was when she entered service, for not only was she the largest and fastest ship the world had ever known but she was also the most expensive. Items within this new accession help to demonstrate the impact the Queen Mary had on the country and her wide-ranging appeal.

They include a supplement from The Journal of Commerce and Shipping, (as the first ship to be launched by the newly formed Cunard White Star Line Ltd. the Queen Mary dominated news headlines); a scale model by Bassett-Lowke Ltd, complete with printed instructions and a fold-out scale drawing; a hand-held Queen Mary puzzle from the ‘R. J. Series of Popular Puzzles’ and collectable confectionery and cigarette cards that used illustrations to demonstrate the scale and features of the Queen Mary to the public and potential passengers.

D1169/1/2 – The Queen Mary puzzle

The new accession also includes items relating to Thomas Utley (Rainhill) Ltd (a brass foundry which made fittings for the shipping industry) in the form of a promotional booklet and catalogue, staff photograph and news clipping. The promotional booklet as shown was produced by Thomas Utley (Rainhill) Ltd. Rainhill Liverpool to highlight a selection of the sidelights and windows supplied to the Queen Mary.These items will be of particular interest to those who are researching suppliers to the Queen Mary and will complement Sir Percy Bates’ correspondence that can be found within the Cunard Archive’s ‘Chairmen’s Papers’.



Pictured below is just one of the menu cards collected by Tom and Hilda Roby on their Mediterranean cruise on the Sylvania in 1965. Further items from this cruise include copies of the Cunard Ocean Bulletin and even Cunard-themed cocktail stirrers, matches and a bar of soap!

D1169/3/1 – Dinner menu card from a Sylvania Mediterranean Cruise (15 Feb 1965)

The full catalogue for this new accession (D1169) will be available online via the Cunard webpage.

This Week’s War: 166


October 1917
Goods Received                                  Goods Distributed
12 Doz. Face Cloths                             10 Doz to Casualty Clearing stn. B.E.F
” ” Tooth Brushes                                   6 ” ” ” ”
4 ” Hair Combs                                      To Comrades Assn.
2 ” Packages Calox                               ” ”
2 ” Hot Water Bottles                             Casualty Clearing stn. B.E.F
1 1/2 Bath Gowns                                  ” ”

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].

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 © (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 – this prestigious project was a huge opportunity for British shipbuilders to construct a transatlantic liner.

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


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

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

The new ship, code-named ‘Q4’ was built by John Brown & Company Ltd, Clydebank (later Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Ltd) and scheduled for May 1968. On 20th 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 two folders which contains Fairfield’s specification for the ‘Geared Turbines’ and ‘Machinery Installation’ for a ‘Proposed Cunard Express Liner’. However a lack of contextual information such as date and name of the ship means that it is unclear whether this is for project ‘Q3’ – if anyone has any information about this record please feel free to contact us. Below is a section from one of the illustrations accompanying the specification.

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 that relate specifically to the QE2; namely D387 images relating to the QE2 (The Architectural Press Ltd) and D922 Papers of Mr. T. Kameen, Technical Director for Cunard.

This Week’s War: 163


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].

This Week’s War: 161


August 1917
Goods Received                                  Goods Distributed
From Boston
2 C/s [cases] from Franklin Relief        To Bureau
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].