Imagecourtest Liverpool Daily Post and Echo.
I always relish the anticipation of travelling ? it is enjoyable to plan your journeyand visualise what you will see and do. It is wonderful that many people can now travelrelatively cheaply for pleasure. Once people stayed put and only journeyed out ofabsolute necessity.
In the early days of mass emigration many travellers probably thought of their approachingvoyages with dread. It was often an exhausting ordeal just getting to your embarkationport and successfully boarding a ship.
Emigration was boosted by steamship development and by the 1870s most emigrants travelledthis way rather than by sail. Steam power at sea ? like the railways on land ? madejourneys quicker and also led to regular reliable timetable services. No longer didpassengers have to cope with many delays mostly caused by bad weather.
In the second half of the 19th century, shipping companies such as White Star, Cunard,Allan, Inman, Guion and National ran regular services out of Liverpool. They tooktrade from the American sailing packet services, bringing money and business to theport. Importantly for the benefit of emigrants, they brought competition. Fares andcharges were driven down as the shipping companies fought to attract business.
Publicity was often focused on First Class as the liners developed and became moreluxurious. However, emigrant passengers provided the bread-and-butter profits forthe shipping companies.
In the winter some rooms were now heated, unheard of in the days of wooden sailingships where accommodation was invariably cold and wet.
On shore, appalling conditions experienced by emigrants gave cause for concern andmoves were made to relieve their plight.
In the new emigrants? gallery at MerseysideMaritime Museum there is a contemporary print of a Government-funded emigrationdepot (pictured). It was opened in Birkenhead in 1852 for British emigrants headingfor Australia. The depot provided meals, warm shelter and safety until its closurein 1868 when general conditions for emigrants had improved.
The accommodation which the depot offered helped to increase sailings from Liverpooland shipowners competed for lucrative Government contracts. In the depot you had tobehave and follow the rules.
Liverpool-based Thomas Ismay?s White Star Line (Oceanic Steam Navigation Company)become one of the major transatlantic emigration operators which later built the Titanic.
On display are several items which saw daily use on emigrant ships. There are largecoffee and tea pots embossed with the famous White Star flag. A soup ladle was madefor the Guion Line in 1871.
Our Maritime Archivesand Library have information on firms involved in emigration. There's more onthe experiences of emigrants in our 'Leaving fromLiverpool' feature.
A new Maritime Tale by Stephen Guy appears every Saturday in the LiverpoolEcho. A paperback ? Mersey Maritime Tales (?3.99) ? is available from the museum,newsagents, bookshops or from the MerseyShop website (?1.50 p&p UK).