Information sheet

Maritime Archives and Library

Sheet number 25

Main repository and reading room 

Maritime Archives and Library
Second floor
Merseyside Maritime Museum
Albert Dock
Pier Head
Liverpool   L3 4AQ

Telephone: (0151) 478 4424
Email the Maritime Archives and Library

Open Tuesday - Thursday, 10.30am - 4.30pm   


Free entry, identification and proof of address required. No appointment is necessary to visit the Maritime Archives and Library.  However, it is advisable to book a microfilm reader in advance.  Access to the Reserve Store (North Street) is strictly by appointment only. 

Historical background

An Archivist was appointed after the County of Merseyside came into existence in 1974 and the Museum Archives were incorporated.  They included valuable maritime archives, acquired in anticipation of the establishment of a Maritime Museum, which finally came to fruition in 1980. 

Acquisition policy

To extend the holdings of the following categories of archives: Archives of the National Museums Liverpool, Maritime and Business Archives associated with the Port of Liverpool in its widest sense, and archives associated with Museum specialisms.

Maritime archives - major collections

Registers of Merchant Ships, 1739 - 1942; records of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board and its antecedents, c1735 - to date; Business Records including extensive shipping company and shipping association records; Archive material relating to the slave trade, marine insurance, shipping charities and educational establishments; personal papers of seamen, emigrants and shipping families.  For further details see: Guide to the Records of Merseyside Maritime Museum, Vol. I, 1995 & Vol. II, 1998.

Please note that no official passenger or emigrant lists or registers of seamen are held by the Maritime Archives and Library.  Advice on the whereabouts of such records as survive, however, is available.

Maritime archives - library holdings

Lloyd’s List from 1741; Lloyd’s Register of Shipping from 1764; extensive periodical runs; Customs Bills of Entry for Great Britain and Ireland, 1820 - 1939; Research Collections including the Beard Index of sailing ships, the Cochrane Index of steamships, the Liverpool Nautical Research Society collection and the Docklands History Research collections.

Business archives

BICC plc, cable manufacturers (see Business Archives information sheet number 58, November 1989); Fawcett Engineering; Vulcan Foundry Ltd (locomotive builders); Meccano Ltd. (mechanical toy manufacturers); records of the Liverpool Warehousing Co, Ltd., and corn, sugar and provision trade associations (all strictly by appointment only).

National Museums Liverpool specialisms

Military: Records of the Liverpool King’s Regiment (c/o Regional History Department).  The Maritime Archives & Library holds the Liverpool King's Regiment Battalion Diaries for the First World War and standard reference books.

Natural History: Records include the 13th Earl of Derby’s Natural History correspondence, 1799-1850 (all strictly by appointment only).

Records of Museums and Art Galleries from 1849 (all strictly by appointment only).

Business and family collections

Danson family of Barnston, Birkenhead and Liverpool, 19th and 20th centuries (shipping and insurance) (all strictly by appointment only); the Bryson Collection (see Business Archives No. 47, November 1981) (note: all strictly by appointment only, except for some Bryson maritime items available at the Maritime Archives & Library); the Earle family of Liverpool, 17th - 19th centuries; the Cropper family (merchant/shipping and anti-slavery agitation).

Non-manuscript material

The Stewart Bale Photographic Archive: Glass and Film Negatives covering all aspects of business activity in the north west and elsewhere, c.1920-1975 (all strictly by appointment only); extensive maritime photographic, film and sound archives.

Please note: Horological material allied to horological collections, including the watch-toolmaker’s catalogue of John Wyke of Liverpool and Prescot, c1765, is now held at Prescot Museum, an associated institution.

Archives department - current staff 

 Dawn Littler  Head of Archives Department (0151) 478 4407
 Sarah Starkey  Curator of Maritime Archives (0151) 478 4527
 Vacant  Curator of Business Archives  (0151) 478 4694
 Anne Gleave  Curator of Photographic Archives  (0151) 478 4487
 Graham Hodson  Assistant Curator  (0151) 478 4424
 John Winrow  Assistant Curator  (0151) 478 4424
 Lorna Hyland  Assistant Librarian  (0151) 478 4424
 John Moore Assistant Curator  (0151) 478 4424

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