Six Vessels

About This Project

Explore the stories behind six Wirral-built ships which travelled the world.

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Models and rarely seen historic artefacts feature alongside much-loved and new artwork to celebrate Wirral’s industrial heritage and the borough’s contribution to maritime exploration.

Six Vessels looks at the story of shipbuilding in Wirral through six ships created from metal in the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead. The ships featured within the exhibition shed light on pivotal moments in maritime history that have impacted on seafaring practice as we know it today.

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. 6 Vessels is part of Made of Iron – a celebration of Wirral’s shipbuilding and maritime heritage story.

The exhibition runs from 11th May until 22nd September and is free.

6 Vessels: The ships and their stories

HMS Birkenhead (1847) The ship which is thought to have originated the phrase “women and children first”

Ma Robert (1858) The flat-pack iron ship that took explorer Livingstone on his travels

CSS Alabama (1862) The secrecy behind this ship and its role in the American Civil War

HMT Leasowe Castle (1917) The role the Cammell Laird workforce played during military conflicts

HMS Ark Royal (1937) The pioneering design of this aircraft carrier

RMS Mauretania (1938) The ship which redefined luxury travel

For more exhibitions at the Williamson, check our Exhibitions pages.

To find out more about Wirral Borough of Culture 2019, visit

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