The 250 year story of the Liverpool Pilots

Merseyside Maritime Museum have a new exhibition focusing on the Liverpool Pilotage Service; the second oldest institution in Liverpool, the oldest being the Town Corporation (now City Council). The exhibition will run from 22 July 2016 until 4 June 2017.

Telling the story of the Liverpool pilots and their vital role in navigating ships in and out of the Port of Liverpool, In Safe Hands: The Story of the Liverpool Pilots will explore 250 years of maritime history, and shed light on the vital role that the pilots play, bringing in ships to the port.

Liverpool waters are some of the toughest in the world to navigate. Ships entering Liverpool Bay and the River Mersey face serious hazards and rely on the skills and knowledge of marine pilots to ensure their safe passage.

Ben Whittaker, Curator of Maritime History and Technology at Merseyside Maritime Museum, said: “Not enough people know about the job the pilots do; they ensure safe passage of the ships that bring us the many things we take for granted in the modern world, which is why we want to highlight their work through this exhibition in their 250th year.

“Liverpool waters can present many hazards to shipping, such as shifting sandbanks, strong currents and rapidly changing tides. The pilots take control of ships entering or leaving the River Mersey, using their expert knowledge of local conditions as well as ship navigation skills, to ensure their safe passage.

“It is a dangerous job and the exhibition will highlight many acts of bravery where pilots have saved lives and cargo from disaster. This includes the heroic role they played during both world wars.”

Visitors will see dramatic stories of pilots’ bravery, such as four young apprentices who died in the Second World War trying to rescue colleagues in stormy seas. People can also learn about pilot ships, including a famous incident in 1881 when the aptly named pilot boat Leader led 12 ships into the port during a heavy storm.

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