Exhibition revealing stories of Liverpool life during the First World War

The Museum of Liverpool will open a new exhibition this July, to mark 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War.

First World War: reflecting on Liverpool's Home Front opens on 23 July, the same day that the Giant Spectacular, Memories of August 1914 begins in Liverpool.

Running until 1 March 2015 the exhibition will explore some of the city’s lesser-known stories of the First World War, asking visitors to look at this period of history from a different perspective.

The Museum of Liverpool already pays homage to the many servicemen and women - in particular members of the King’s Regiment - who played such an important role in who played such an important role in the War. The exhibition From Waterfront to Western Front and the City Soldiers Gallery look into Liverpool soldiers’ experiences on the front line, but this new exhibition will uncover the untold stories of life back home.

Focusing on several themes, the exhibition will also feature a special display recording the outcome of an HLF-funded community collecting project about Liverpool’s Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities during the First World War period.

The project encouraged local BME families to research their First World War history. Although Liverpool had quite a small BME community, it was longstanding and although evidence of them is incredibly rare, there were eligible BME men in Liverpool at the time of conscription. With the help of the families who came forward, curators have gathered information and photographs for this special display to highlight stories and experiences of the First World War.

Several other themes will also be highlighted, which visitors may be surprised to learn of. Liverpool contributed large numbers of people to the war effort. With more than 100,000 men from Merseyside serving, this dramatic shift in social dynamics undoubtedly had an impact on many areas of daily life.

Women gained more independence and responsibility, food and supplies were rationed, and everyone pitched in to help the war effort. This is well known, but what’s often not referenced is that amidst their empowerment and new-found independence, working-class women struggled to manage the funds distributed by government. Some developed drinking problems and pub licencing laws were changed because of cities such as Liverpool and Glasgow where workers usually brought home a daily wage.

While 3,000 Liverpool Pals turned up to enlist on one day, not all men experienced the same patriotism and strike action was rife. Men went on strike throughout the four-year period for better conditions and for war wages to match the higher cost of living.

Also underrepresented in the history books is the huge amount of fundraising that took place in Liverpool. In a city with so many living on or below the poverty line, relief and comfort funds were still being set up by all of the local organisations and prominent families.

Another surprise is that Liverpool continued to grow. While most of Belgium and Northern France was being devastated by shells and bombs, workmen continued to be employed on building sites around the city. The Cunard Buildings, warehouses on Blundell Street and new dwellings in Scotland Road were all completed during the war period.

Using historic and previously unseen images, these themes will be examined along with others which have remained untold over the last century, in a thought-provoking exhibition which will support the Museum’s First World War items already on display in the City Soldiers Gallery and From Waterfront to Western Front exhibition in The People’s Republic Gallery.

The exhibition will return to the Museum of Liverpool several times during the First World War commemoration period, exploring a different theme in more detail each time.

Notes to editors:

Museum of Liverpool

The Museum of Liverpool is one of the country’s most visited museums outside of London. It is the largest newly-built national museum in Britain for more than a century, demonstrating Liverpool’s unique contribution to the world. The first national museum devoted to the history of a regional city, it showcases popular culture while tackling social, historical and contemporary issues. It has attracted more than two million visitors since opening in July 2011. The prestigious Council of Europe Museum Prize for 2013 was awarded to the Museum for its commitment to human rights as well as its work with children and families from all backgrounds.

The Museum has received generous support from several major funders, and grants from trusts and foundations, corporate support and individual donations. Major funders include the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS),Garfield Weston Foundation and the Clore Duffield Foundation.

The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) was responsible for the sustainable economic development and regeneration of England’s Northwest and had five key priorities: Business, Skills and Education, People and Jobs, Infrastructure and Quality of Life.

The European Development Fund (ERDF) is making a real difference to people and businesses in the North West. With €755 million to invest between 2007 and 2013, ERDF is enhancing the competitiveness of the region’s economy by supporting growth in enterprise and employment. ERDF in the North West is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government – for further information visit www.communities.gov.uk/erdf.

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage.  HLF has supported more than 30,000 projects allocating £4.5billion across the UK. www.hlf.org.uk 

About National Museums Liverpool

National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues, including some of the most visited museums in England outside of London. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic. We attract more than 2.7 million visitors every year. Our venues are the Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, the Walker Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Border Force National Museum, Sudley House and the Lady Lever Art Gallery. 

About Us

National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic. We attract more than three million visitors every year. Our venues are the Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, the Walker Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, UK Border Agency National Museum, Sudley House and the Lady Lever Art Gallery.