Cunard Archive – New Deposit

This month Special Collections and Archives were pleased to receive a substantial donation to the Cunard Archive from the founder of the Cunard Steamship Society, John Langley.

As a life-long Cunard collector and historian this opportunity is an assurance that much of my life’s work will be preserved for future generations.

John Langley Q.C.

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the birthplace of Samuel Cunard, Langley’s passion for maritime history began at a young age. As a boy he was influenced greatly by a family friend, Doug Gordon, who was a prominent Passenger Manager for the Cunard Line in Canada.

After a successful career in Law, Langley has donated much of his time to research and writing on the subject of Cunard history. He is the author of Steam Lion, the definitive biography of Sir Samuel Cunard, and lectures extensively aboard Cunard liners and other cruise ships.

Langley travelled with his collection from Halifax on the Queen Mary 2 and spent a number of days at the University of Liverpool going through the 21 boxes of material.

John Langley’s collection reflects his life-long interest in the the rich history and proud tradition of the Cunard Steamship Company. It largely comprises ephemera dating from the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, with items such as menu cards, cruise leaflets and newspaper cuttings.

The material will be catalogued within the ‘Related Collections’ series and be made available to the public.

More information about the Cunard Archive and how to access it can be found on the University of Liverpool Special Collections and Archives website:https://libguides.liverpool.ac.uk/library/sca/cunardarchive

The Cunard Archive. Cunard & the city of Liverpool

As we look forward to the Queen Mary 2 arriving in Liverpool on Tuesday 16 July, we have chosen some items from the Cunard Archive that represent Cunard’s historic connection to the city of Liverpool.

Britannia. Exterior illustration. D42/PR2/1/36a/C1

Cunard’s first ever ship, the 1,156-ton Britannia left Liverpool on 4th July 1840 and arrived on schedule in Halifax just ten days later. Within a year Britannia and her three sister ships were providing the first timetabled weekly steamship service across the Atlantic.

The Mauretania II was the first ship to be built for the newly formed Cunard White Star Line and was laid down on 24 May 1937. Built on the Mersey in Birkenhead by Cammel, Laird & Co. Ltd, it was the largest ship ever to be constructed in an English shipyard at the time.

This booklet commemorates the launch of the Mauretania II at the yard of Cammell Laird & Co Limited, Birkenhead on Thursday 28th July 1938. The naming ceremony was performed by Lady Bates and was watched by spectacular crowds.

Cunard’s headquarters was based in Liverpool from its inception in 1839 until 1967 when it relocated to Southampton. As the company grew so did its administrative requirements meaning its original offices in Water Street were no longer suitable.  Completed in 1917 the Cunard Building on Liverpool’s historic waterfront became known as one of the Three Graces. 

This commemorative publication provides an overview of the design and construction of the building and is supplemented with illustrations.

More information about the Cunard Archive and how to access it can be found on the University of Liverpool Special Collections and Archives website: https://libguides.liverpool.ac.uk/library/sca/cunardarchive

Art in Menu Cards

Cunard Archive

The sweets of a delightful meal may become as the waters of Marah by a menu card that offends the eye


Queen Elizabeth, Luncheon Menu 15 Feb 1958.
Image shows King Charles’s Tower, Chester.

Menu cards within the Cunard Archive are enjoyed by archive users not only for the information within them, but also for their attractive cover designs.

An article published in Cunard News in 1922 describes how art printed on a menu card is carefully chosen to enhance the dining experience of guests.

Cunard News, 1922

Menu cards were popular mementos, kept by passengers to remind them of their experience on board a Cunard ship.

There are many menu cards within the Cunard Archive, and more are deposited regularly by members of the public.

An overview of the Cunard Archive is available here

2018 retrospect

As the first month of 2019 draws to a close, we look back on the previous year and all of the events, accessions, and projects that took place here in Special Collections and Archives.

January

We welcomed in the New Year in with a new exhibition, which was titled The University of Liverpool: A History through Archives. This exhibition celebrated 50 years since  establishment in 1968 of the official repository for the University Archives. The repository’s holdings currently comprise over 2000 linear meters of material and continue to grow.

The University of Liverpool: A History through Archives.

February

The Gypsy Lore Society collections were enhanced with the accession of a collection of papers formerly belonging to Helen Murray, secretary to philologist and GLS member Bernard Gilliat-Smith (1883-1974).The collection largely comprises correspondence and photographs, including letters from notable GLS members such as Dora YatesR. A. Scott Macfie and Henry James Francis.

Macfie (left) is pictured alongside a fellow employee from Messrs Macfie & Sons, the sugar refinery business which had been run by his family in Liverpool since 1838.

March

March was a busy month! Katy Hooper, Special Collections Librarian, attended the opening of the exhibition Mondes Tsiganes (Gypsy Worlds) at the Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration, Paris, in order to see material from the Scott Macfie collections displayed; we celebrated World Poetry Day with two posts, the first also celebrating women poets in connection to International Women’s Day, and the second celebrating Small Press Poetry and the 20th C Liverpool poetry scene. We also celebrated World Book Day on the University of Liverpool Instagram. 

Photographs and a digital version of R. A. Scott Macfie’s photo album on display in Paris.

April

We began a new series of events displaying Special Collections and Archives ‘Treasures’. The series started with a display of medieval books, including the beautiful Nuremberg Chronicle (1493). To find out more, see our new blog post! Another first in April was the launch of the LivUniSCA twitter account, which has grown to have 299 followers to date.

May

The new SC&A exhibition Puzzles, Poetry and Playground Games debuted, which displayed games and pastimes, for children and adults, from the 18th-20th centuries. The exhibition “…don’t forget the photos, it’s very important…” The National Socialist Persecution of Central German Sinti and Roma featuring material from the Gypsy Lore Society Collections made its well received return to Liverpool in the Central Library.

D958: Queen Mary jigsaw puzzle, featured in the Puzzles, Poetry and Playground Games exhibition
…don’t forget the photos, it’s very important…” The National Socialist Persecution of Central German Sinti and Roma at Liverpool Central Library

June

The Harold Cohen Library holds the Mathematics texts for the University, so it was fitting that the ‘Seeing Euclid’ exhibition was on display there during June and July. We also welcomed many prospective students and their family and friends for the first Undergraduate open day of the year.

July

SC&A was awarded Archives Accreditation, the UK quality standard which recognises good performance in all areas of archive service delivery, and is awarded by a Committee representing the entire archive sector. We also welcomed the Society for the Social History of Medicine 2018 Conference delegates to view some of the medical texts held here in the collections.

August

We celebrated World Photo Day by picking our favourites from the collections, including the fantastic below photograph from the Cunard Archive. Niamh Delaney, Assistant Special Collections Librarian, was awarded a bursary to attend the Montefiascone Conservation Project in Italy, where she spent a week cataloguing books held in the collections there.

Dance aboard the RMS Queen Mary, from the Cunard Archive.
D42/PR2/1/97/F67.

The 31st of July also marks the end of the academic year, so in August we are busy totting up the total number of visitors, retrievals, and enquiries we answered throughout the previous year. Between 1st August 2017 and 31st July 2018, we retrieved 5332 items from the stores, welcomed 1107 visitors and readers, and received 1558 email and 210 phone call enquiries!

September

While the hustle and bustle of the first 2018-19 academic teaching semester began, staff changes were happening in SC&A. We said goodbye to Graduate Library Assistant Michaela Garland, who was heading for the Master of Archives and Records Management course, and we welcomed Caitlin Fleming into the same post; Cunard Archivist Sian Wilks gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Dylan Derek Matthews, and Beth Williams began her Maternity cover of the Cunard Archivist post; and finally we said goodbye to the amazing Andy Sawyer, who retired from the post of Science Fiction Librarian which he held for 25 years.

Author Neil Gaiman and Andy Sawyer

Third year English student Sophie Craven began her SOTA300 work experience placement cataloguing the Literary Annuals. The annuals are currently featuring in our new Special Collections and Archives exhibition, Behind the Scenes: Student encounters with Special Collections and Archives. We also began the A-Z of books blog series with Almost an Alphabet; we post each teaching week during semester to demystify some of the specialist words we use in cataloguing our printed books.

October

October was all about the Rathbone Papers and Library; firstly, the Special Collections and Archives Exhibition titled A gift from Greenbank’: reconstructing the Rathbone library was launched, whilst some of the Eleanor Rathbone papers travelled to the other side of campus at the Victoria Gallery for the exhibition Eleanor Rathbone – An Independant Woman. We also hosted a free Science Fiction books event to pass on duplicates from the collections to loving homes, and the next ‘Treasures’ event, ‘Tales from the University Archives’, took place.

A panel from the Eleanor Rathbone: An Independant Woman Exhibition at the VG&M

November

November was events month! Special Collections and Archives hosted a celebration event for the award of Archives Accreditation, at which President of the Archives and Records Association (ARA) Dr Alex Buchanan presented Vice Chancellor of the University of Liverpool Dame Professor Janet Beer with the official certificate (and, there was cake!). Sticking with the theme of archives, University Archivist Jo Klett and Archives Cataloguer Josette Reeve’s hard work on EMu (Collection Management System) became accessible to users via the new and updated archives catalogue.

Head of Special Collections and Archives Jenny Higham introduced Dame Professor Janet Beer to the collections at the Archives Accreditation event.

Other events included: Jenny Higham was welcomed by the Liverpool Nautical Research Society at the Athenaeum for a talk on the Cunard Archive; the ‘Treasures’ series continued with a fascinating display of medical texts, and Niamh Delaney (Special Collections Assistant Librarian) and Robyn Orr (Library Assistant) hosted a KnowHow session on using Special Collections and Archives material in research. Lastly, to mark the centenary of Armistice Day, the ‘This Week’s War’ blog posts were completed with a final overview post  by Caitlin Fleming.

December

We received a new accession to be added to the Science Fiction collections in the form of the library of Brian Aldiss. We wrapped up the year by getting festive in collaboration with the Sydney Jones Library team: images provided by SCA were displayed alongside the Christmas themed books, including this idyllic snow scene.

A268/19 Abercromby Square in the snow (image by
University’s Central Photographic Service)

Memories of a Cunard Assistant Purser

Cunard Additional Deposits

“We had travelled 30,913 miles, circumnavigated the globe, visited 13 countries and 18 ports…” 

D1183/1/2

Alongside the Cunard Archive we hold a range of complementary material donated by individuals, many of whom have links to the company. 

It is often these materials that best reflect the day to day activities of travelling by Cunard and of the experiences of the people involved. 

One of the most recent additions to the Associated Deposits series is a donation from ex-Cunard Assistant Purser Robin Almond.

On 1st January 1957 the 17 year old Robin Almond from Ainsdale in Lancashire joined the Merchant Navy. Robin started as a Cadet Purser with Elder Dempster Line before, 11 months later, taking up a shore based position as a First Class Reservations Clerk with Union Castle Line.

In April 1959 he secured a position as an Assistant Purser with Cunard Line, and in the next three and a half years sailed on the Mauretania, Queen Mary, Caronia, and Queen Elizabeth.

Robin Almond. Caronia North Cape Cruise. 1960. D1183/4

As a young man sailing the globe on world famous cruise liners, Robin has many a tale to tell.

He has been kind enough to share his story with us. Donating extracts from his diaries as well as memorabilia and photographs collected over his years with Cunard to the archive.

Cunard cruise brochures, Junior Assistant Purser’s epaulettes, Cunard buttons and Cunard cap badge. D1183/5-6

 The full catalogue can be viewed online by searching for the reference number D1183.

This Week’s War: 221

Aside

Now “Top Dog”

Pte. L. Rathgen (K.L.R.), Linen Department, in a letter acknowledging his usual parcel says “I, like many more Cunarders am looking forward to the peace which seems so near, and although more heavy fighting is bound to be our lot, I am quite light-hearted as we can now see our aims are about to be realised. During the past few weeks I had many experiences which I cannot write about, but I can say that one had the feeling that you were ‘top dog,’ and the change was appreciated after the somewhat uncertain times recently passed through.”

Extract from Cunard magazine October 1918 issue [D42/PR5/1].

This Week’s War: 217

Aside

Not as Bad as It Might Be

Sergt. H. C. Hiles (Bristol Office), R.F.A. who is serving in the Italian Expeditionary Force writes: “I am spending a cool summer on the mountain tops. It is not such a bad old war as it might be.”

Extract from Cunard magazine September 1918 issue [D42/PR5/1].

Cunard archive: Engineering staff records

At SCA we often receive enquiries from individuals who are researching their family history or are trying to trace an individual who worked for Cunard.

In this post we highlight some of the types of records found within the Cunard archive that relate to the engineering staff who worked for the company, and how researchers can discover this information.

Engineering staff taken at a luncheon on board Mauretania II prior to her breaking up – all of the individuals are named (18 Nov 1965)

As is often the case with business archives, the surviving records are not comprehensive and this is particularly the case for staff records. However, the role of engineer is perhaps the most likely to produce results for a researcher when compared to other roles such as steward or those working in the catering department. This is largely due to ‘D42/EN Engineers Department: Personnel records’ – a unique series of records within the Cunard archive  whose catalogue is available in printed format in our reading room.

These records appear to represent an almost full record of engineering officer staff from 1870, and as such are the most comprehensive staff records of any department within the company. This series of records also includes appointment books of White Star Line engineers prior to the creation of Cunard White Star in 1934. They generally contain information concerning appointments made to particular ships, length of sea service, rate of pay and rank information as well as often noting resignations, retirements and deaths.

Due to the personal nature of these records, some are subject to closure periods and their frequent use as a business record before being transferred to SCA also means that many of these volumes are fragile. Advance appointments to view these records help researchers get the most from their visit and ensures the long-term preservation of the records.

 

‘Cunard Careers at Sea’ (D42/PR4/46/56)

The personnel records of the engineering department can be complimented by ‘Captains Reports on Officers’ 1910-1922 (ref. D42/GM14/1-3) which were compiled by the General Manager’s Office. Other individual records which help provide biographical information of engineering officers can be found in the form of news clippings, press releases and notes (ref. D42/PR4/43/1).

Further potential sources of information can be found within passenger lists which in some cases record the names of senior staff, including that of the Chief Engineer. The photograph collection within the Public Relations series also contains a few examples of named individuals, with engineering staff appearing in both individual portraits and group photographs.

D42/PL12/1/3/14

All of the catalogues for the Cunard archive are available in printed format in our reading room. Further information about the archive and links to the catalogues that are searchable online can be found on our webpage, along with an information sheet about tracing crew.

This Week’s War: 213

Aside

D.S.C. for Cunard Apprentice

It is interesting to record that one of the Cunard apprentices, F. W. Hartley, who left the Company to join the Navy in 1917, has been awarded the D.S.C. for conspicuous bravery while in action with enemy submarines.

Extract from Cunard magazine August 1918 issue [D42/PR5/1].

This Week’s War: 208

Aside

Active Service Letter Bag

Pte. J. H. Cliffe (Accountants), Labour Company, assures us that “everything out here is going on nicely in spite of old Fritz. For some little time we have been in a backward area, and have had an opportunity to see a little bit more of the Belgian civilians and their ways. Their method of churning milk, the contrivance being worked by a dog is very interesting. It is something after the style of a treadmill, the dog working inside the wheel.”

Extract from Cunard magazine, July1918 issue [D42/PR5/1].