The view of the 3 Graces from the top deck of the QM2 and a couple of dodgy cusomers I spotted who’d blagged their way onto the Ship!
This weekend has already been a great one for our City. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday people have poured into the City to see the Queen Mary 2 and take advantage of all the events, music and food that has been put on for them.
Yesterday I went out with Erica to meet and greet passengers disembarking from the QM2 to hear what they had to say and hear what they wanted to do. Interestingly about one third of them were Scousers who had booked last November to be on the voyage when the boat steamed up the Mersey. One joked that when the ship turned round he was so close to his home in Wallasey that he could have jumped off and checked the post!
But many others from this Country and others were making their first ever visit to Liverpool and did not know what to expect. They had heard of the Beatles and the football but apart from did not really know what to expect. It was interesting to hear their choices of destinations. The four most repeated requests were:
• The Maritime Museum
• The Anglican Cathedral
• Matthew Street
Many of the people were elderly and what was absolutely marvellous that they could do history at the Albert Dock (or Liverpool Museum) and go straight over to do ‘shopping’ at Liverpool One. I know of no other major ferry/liner terminal in Europe where people can just walk slowly for just a few minutes and see such a wonderful set of attractions. That is also not to ignore the fact that they will have walked past on of the most famous seascapes in the World.
In the afternoon Erica hosted a get together of former Cunard employees at the Cunard Building. We had everyone from waiters to the managing directors’ PA! It was great to hear their reminiscences about their lives on and off board working for a company that considered Liverpool as its home.
In the evening Erica as Lord Mayor presented the Cunard Line with the Freedom Roll of Association of the City to mark their 175 birthday. Their Chairman spoke movingly of the part that Liverpool had played both in the development of the Company and the development of the UK as a major trading nation. In its time Liverpool was THE communications hub for the World. It’s a position that it cannot regain as technology has changed so many things but the opening of the deep sea port and the hoped for enhanced railway to London, the South East and Continental Europe could once again promote our location as being ideal for far more passenger and goods transportation.
As we toured the Ship many passengers stopped to thank us for the reception they had been given in the City. None of their comments surprised but it was great to hear their comments. “Lovely buildings”; “really friendly from the moment we got off the Ship”; fantastic building’s”; so much to see and do”. And the nicest comments of all were “This is so much nicer than I ahd imagined”; and “we’re going to come back and see some more”.
As I said I expected this because I hear it all the time. People who know little of us and are impressed by what they see and will tell their friends about us. Perhaps even more important are those that felt they were brave coming to our city having read in the trash press the stories about hubcap stealers; benefit claimants; desolation and Scallies with moustaches. Well the bit about scallies with moustaches may be true!
Slowly but surely Liverpool is turning around the views of it promulgated by parts of the media. As more people talk us up rather than down there will be more investment in our city. The investment will come not only from themselves but from those they talk to as they take up their role of honorary ambassadors for our City.
Lastly, I talked to Lord Heseltine about the work we did together in the early 80s when he was the Tory who saved us from abandonment by Thatcher and her right wing cronies. This debt of gratitude has already been recognised but we should not forget that much of what has happened to Liverpool, particularly since 1998, which has been done by the Liverpool Council could only have been achieved because of the shove that Heseltine gave us all those years ago.
So my personal thanks go out to everyone from the Cunard Line who thought up the big idea of coming home to their Birthday bash. To all the staff of the Council led by Claire McColgan, and associated organisations who sorted out the zillions of details needed to make the occasion a success and to keep people safe. To all the staff of the shops and the restaurants and bars and leisure facilities who obviously did us proud with the way that they looked after the visitors. And lastly thanks to all the locals who went down to the River Front and just made all our visitors so very, very welcome.
Now off the see the three Queens dancing in the Mersey a sight that none of us will ever see again. Bring it on!!