Mapping memory on the Liverpool waterfront since the 1950s
Dr Graeme Milne
Higher Education Institute
University of Liverpool
This public history project explores place and memory in the waterfront districts of seaport cities, taking Liverpool as its case-study. It is a collaboration between historians from the University of Liverpool, curators from National Museums Liverpool, and filmmakers from Re-Dock. Historically, the waterfront zone was a vibrant, multi-functional space, frequented at different times of the day and night by a plethora of people, including mariners, merchants and clerks, shipping office workers, industrial workers, dock and warehouse labourers, bartenders, sex workers, police officers, tourists and social reformers. Many aspects of this society survived into the 1960s, when airlines and containerisation removed the need for most people to work in or even visit the urban waterfront, resulting in rapid dereliction and community dispersal.
The focus of this project is the visual capture of personal and community experience of Liverpool's central waterfront district in the 1950s and 1960s, the last generation of traditional seaport society. Cultural mapping workshops and film-making will encourage contributors to identify and recreate their own histories of this space, exploring community identity and continuity, and generating findings for academic and museum research.
In the course of these workshops, the project will acquire a rich collection of visual, oral and material evidence. Outputs in the form of visual memory maps and video histories will enhance knowledge of the built heritage and material culture of these spaces, primarily by identifying and interpreting key sites of memory. Film-makers will then interview selected participants on location, building explicit visual connections between sites of memory and recollection. Broader public debate and engagement will be encouraged through the creation of a website, which will host material contributed to the project in the form of image, text and film. The project's findings will also be reported in articles for academic history and museum studies journals.