A seminar organised by the Maritime Heritage Trust looking at Sustainable Futures for Waterfront Cities and our Industrial, Maritime and Transport Heritage, was held on the Albert Dock on the 11th May. I went along representing a group I have got heavily involved in since last year; the Warrington Transporter Bridge, along with the chair Margaret Ingham. Many other groups were represented including the Bidston lighthouse on the Wirral, the National Railway Museum in York, Walton Gardens in Warrington, and the Canal and River Trust.
The day started with short presentations aboard the steam tug; Daniel Adamson, known as “the Danny”. This tug was originally built in Birkenhead in 1903 and in the past has ferried passengers between Ellesmere Port and Liverpool. The three short talks gave an overview of the Danny’s history, the restoration work through the £3.8 million lottery grant, the learning programme and plans looking forward. An analogy was used by Cathriona Bourke of”you wouldn’t throw away a child’s teddy bear, so why get a new boat?” instead of restoring it. A buffet lunch was held aboard after a chance to look around and ask any questions. I will have to return and see the work finished, especially the saloon carpeted and furnished.
After lunch the talks and discussions moved into the Lecture Hall of the Merseyside Maritime Museum opposite the boat. A key skills presentation began the afternoon by Peter Middleton looking at gaining funding for the future of a project, including sustainability and resources. He used example projects from the world of Children’s television, and included the fable of the Ostrich and the three legged stool.
A major point throughout the session was about creating partnerships with others, and thinking outside the box with experiments and product innovation. The potential for a North West Transport and Maritime support network. The speakers on this topic were:
- Clare Rawlinson; Marketing Manager of the Albert Dock spoke about the success of the “Steam on the Dock” event which brought thousands into the Liverpool waterfront with heritage engines they may not have seen before.
- Jamie Davies from the Ironbridge Institute and Morol; talked about building your web and social media presence into your routine, and engaging the public by digital means.
- Janet Small; White Funnel General Manager of the MV Balmoral, got some jokes in talking about bringing the heritage attraction by sea to the public, with 55 ports being visited this year. “We are all heritage” but need to think for the future and network.
- Bob Gwynne; Associate Curator from the National Railway Museum in York talked about “Steam warms the market for tourism”, projects should connect with the public, and railway preservation should crossover with other forms of transport.
Henry Cleary, the Deputy Chair of the Maritime Heritage Trust opened the discussion on the current challenges, and opportunities we all have by mentioning the key issues from the Titanic Conference of October 2015. These included:
- Raising the game on reaching new members and audiences
- Communicating the story and learning from others
- Influencing local authorities and others on the potential of heritage.
The other challenges mentioned throughout the discussion by the panel of Ian Murphy (National Museums, Liverpool), Adam Tyson (HLF), John Megoran (PS Kingswear Castle Trust), Bob Gwynne (NRM) and Bob Pointing of the Canal and River Trust were;
- Continuity and future proofing
- The need to attract younger people
- Bureaucracy of meetings turning people off
- Liverpool being more buoyant and successful
- Getting pricing right
The concluding remarks of the day by Dan Cross; Chairman of the Danny were that communication between groups, to help each other is the best way forward. This could be done by a range of means, and I agree that sticking together to share knowledge will help us meet the challenges ahead.