Maryport Maritime Museum
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
The Cumbrian port of Maryport has a long history as a centre for fishing and maritime shipping. In a historic building beside the quayside is the Maryport Maritime Museum, which tells the story of the port and its connection to the sea. The museum building was once the Queen's Head inn, as evidenced by a large mosaic depicting Queen Victoria in profile on the rounded corner of the exterior.
It is fitting that the museum is housed in a building popular with sailors, who boarded here between voyages and drank in the bar, swapping stories of their adventures on the sea. The building stands on one of the very first plots of lands developed by Henry Senhouse II, who was responsible for building much of the town and harbour.
The Titanic Exhibition
Maryport was the birthplace of Thomas Ismay, owner of the White Star Line, one of the most prestigious and successful ship building companies in the world. Unfortunately, the White Star Line is today known primarily for the SS Titanic disaster of 1912, when the supposedly unsinkable passenger liner was struck by an iceberg on its maiden voyage and sank with terrible loss of life.
One of the highlights of the museum is a display on Ismay's life, the story of the White Star Line, and the Titanic disaster.
Though the White Star company was vilified in the press after the Titanic sinking, the exhibition shows a much different side of the company. For example, Ismay sent one of his captains as a secret steerage passenger aboard his first liner, Oceanic, to report on conditions. As a result, conditions were vastly improved for even the lowest class of passengers, with larger and more comfortable rooms, and special quarters for married couples and families.
The exhibition showcases items used on the Titanic, photos, drawings, and a complete scale model of the vessel. There is even a dinner plate made specially for the White Star line by Stoniers & Co. of London. It would have been used by First Class passengers in the dining saloon.
On a much brighter note, there is a special display of maritime photos by artist William Mitchell (1823-1900), a native of Maryport.
Other objects that caught our eyes included a sperm whale tooth etched with a carving of thew whaling ship Eagle, dating to the early 19th century. Then there is a display of sailmakers tools, a seaman's chest, a a very interesting exhibit on the Maryport RNLI lifeboat. Children will enjoy seeing the oversized gilded hat that once served as the shop sign for R. Gate, a Maryport hatter.
Look for the display of a Spanish peseta lost by a sailor staying at the Queen's Head pub. The sailor stayed in an attic room and must have put his coin on the rafter over his bed, then forgotten it in the morning. The coin comes from the reign of Alphonso XII, who reigned 1874-1885 and was found during the building's renovation.
The Museum is located on the quayside, in a historic building once occupied by the Queen's Head inn. It is a stone's throw from the iconic modern sculpture 'A Fishy Tail' by local artist Colin Telfer, which stands above the River Ellen, and a very short walk from the historic Tudor port.
The museum is open weekends throughout the year and on specified weekdays according to the season. There is a small entry fee, and a discounted family ticket which saved our family a few pounds.
Though the museum is small, it is quite enjoyable and really helps give a sense of Maryport's long heritage and its connection to the sea.
About Maryport Maritime Museum
Address: 1 Senhouse Street, Maryport, Cumbria, England, CA15 6AB
Attraction Type: Museum
Website: Maryport Maritime Museum
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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