Western Approaches Week 1

June 2017 was the start of an interesting and complex project for Maker of Things.


It began with a query from Big Heritage  simply asking: “Alfred. Are you up for recreating an entire 1940s street scene?”

Of course I replied: “OK. Where, when and what budget?”

A screenshot of the Twitter DM showing the conversation mentioned above,
Screenshot of Twitter DM.

What followed was complete silence until we were requested to attend a site meeting in Liverpool at the Western Approaches WW2 museum on the 11th July 2017.

This was our first knowledge of Western Approaches, and its true significance in the war effort. Though we were familiar with the battle of the Atlantic the details of ‘The Citadal’, ‘The Bunker’, the bomb proof HQ where the battle was coordinated was new to us.

On first being lead into the underground maze where we were to be working we were amazed by the size and scale of the project, and could immediately feel the importance of the building and those who served and worked there. This was a project  not to be taken (too) lightly though a modicum of lightness was required to overcome the initial ‘haunted’ creepiness of being underground!

We explored the building. We got lost in the building. We found a plan layout. We struggled to connect the layout as it was drawn at the time, to the layout that faced us, with all its unknown changes and conversions since its wartime use.

But we found our project, the street scene, in all its decrepitude from age and neglect. From what we can decipher the street scene was first constructed sometime in the 1990s when the museum was first opened to the public.

To gain an idea of the layout I took a photograph of the room in the model of the building that was there.

A photograph of the model of the room, seen from above, showing the layout of the space and the locations of the shop, shelter and bombed house.
A plan view of the model of the room with captions showing the positions of the street scene artefacts.

The room was to be cleared out, all the sand, artefacts, Anderson shelter, random bits and pieces, and education room tables, would be removed.

We went away from this site meeting with a camera full of images of everything that might be useful, dimensions of the room (the main open space was 10 metres by 11 metres) and a head full of awe and ideas.


The next post will look at where we started the project, the logistics, what we found, what we kept, and what we changed.

If you would like to follow this blog series on the Western Approaches Museum please click on the Western Approaches tag in the News tab above.