WIRRAL'S shipbuilding and maritime heritage is set to be explored through a series of exhibitions and cultural events called Made of Iron this year.

The programme, showcased as part of Borough of Culture, will share the tales of Wirral-built ships travelling the globe and reflect on how shipbuilding has changed the borough.

Starting on Saturday, May 11, Made of Iron comes as Wirral takes its place on the world stage as the birthplace of the polar research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough which is currently being built at Cammell Laird.

Assistant director for culture and visitor economy at Wirral Council Lucy Barrow told the Globe: “The role of shipbuilding in Wirral – past, present and future – is a fascinating story which we wanted to bring to the forefront in our Borough of Culture year.

"Our programme this year is all about discovery, exploration and the great outdoors, and Made of Iron really ties all those elements together.

“As well as looking back, the programme will also look at what is happening right now in the borough and the future of shipbuilding.

"The RRS Sir David Attenborough being built at Cammell Laird is an incredible technological achievement and is putting a global spotlight on Wirral.”

The Williamson Art Gallery and Museum will host the first event on May 11 with the opening of Six Vessels, charting the stories behind six Wirral-built ships.

Tony Graham, chief operating officer at Cammell Laird said: “Wirral is the womb of over a thousand iron ships.

"Building iron ships brought life to the economy, helped people make a living and made lives more meaningful.

"Cammell Laird is proud to be associated with the Six Vessels exhibition which tells an important story.

"A story that demonstrates that Wirral people have iron in their genes.”

Made of Iron event schedule:

  • Six Vessels

Made of Iron launches with Six Vessels from Saturday, May 11 at the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum. The free exhibition, running until Sunday, September 22, looks at six significant Wirral-built ships and their role in maritime history, with rarely seen artefacts on display alongside popular artwork from the Williamson’s collection and newly commissioned work by Ian Fennelly. The ships include the HMS Birkenhead, Ma Robert, CSS Alabama, HMT Leasowe Castle, HMS Ark Royal and the RMS Mauretania.

The research for Six Vessels has been undertaken by local historian, Elizabeth Davey who has worked in partnership with Wirral Museums Service staff, Wirral Archives, Cammell Laird, Wirral Libraries, National Museums Liverpool and Wirral History and Heritage Association.

  • A Community Made of Iron

As part of Made of Iron, a digital archive of stories, photographs and artefacts is being developed to capture the social history and experiences of workers, families and communities linked to Wirral’s shipbuilding and maritime heritage. Anyone who would like to participate or nominate a friend or relative can contact cultureteam@wirral.gov.uk to register their interest.

  • Down Our Street

This musical play by Wirral writer Brian McCann, will be staged at the Floral Pavilion from Thursday, August 29 to Sunday, September 1. The show celebrates life in the Cammell Laird shipyard from the industrial revolution to the present day with drama, comedy and song.

  • Close Enough to Touch

Later this year, the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool will present Close Enough to Touch. The play is a dramatic retelling of the tragic story of the HMS Thetis which sank in 1939 with the loss of 99 lives and will be performed at the historic Birkenhead Priory, which sits next to of the shipyard.

More events and exhibitions linked to Made of Iron will be announced later in the year.

For more information about Made of Iron, visit