Saturday, May 05, 2012

Off to Liverpool again today, to have another crack at the new Museum of Liverpool. This is housed is an ultra modern building on the city's waterfront, right next to the Three Graces. Beside these, it looks even uglier than it would alone but, hey, this is progress.

The first thing I note is that, in contrast to last time, there are no Welcome leaflets in Spanish. There's a stack of them in Arabic and almost as many in French. Followed by smaller quantities in three other languages. But not a page in Castellano. I begin to worry that they've all been taken by a horde of Iberian visitors who've invaded the place.

But the only foreigners I meet are a couple of Scandinavians(?) who are swathed in Liverpool FC regalia and who've presumably come over to watch this evening's FA Cup Final in one of the city's pubs.

The first thing that strikes me in the section on Liverpool as a Trading City is that it's unremittingly critical of the sources of the city's 18th and 19th century's great wealth. All well merited, I guess, but not balanced by anything else. After a while, I felt as if I'd read several copies of The Guardian from back to front. And the question occurred - If the museum is so unhappy about the provenance of the trophies it has on display, why not send them back? Anyway, it was good to see a bit of even-handedness - "Spanish and Portuguese exploration in South America brought unmitigated disaster to the indigenous peoples."

The most interesting fact to emerge was that, scenting opportunities in China, a Basque family called Larringa had moved to Liverpool in the 1850s and established a successful shipping company there.

The second most interesting fact was that Valencia St. in Liverpool is named after the city from which the street's most prominent resident had imported oranges.

Finally . . . I was intrigued to be reminded that Liverpool, because of the importance of the cotton trade, had supported the South in the American civil war. And to learn that the last act of that war had taken place in the river Mersey, when the CSS Shenandoah had surrendered to the British government. A long way from the boat's base in New Orleans.

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