Liverpool and Wirral Giants 2018

Over the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th of October Liverpool and Wirral welcomed the Giants for the third time and what is said to be their final visit.

Royal de Luxe, the street theatre company from Nantes, France who specialise in using giant mechanical marionettes returned to what many feel is their second home for a spectacular and unmissable event.  And this time the event included a day on Wirral as well as Liverpool city centre.  The theme for their final visit was ‘Liverpool’s Dream’ as part of Liverpool, celebrating ten years since its designation of European Capital of Culture.

Liverpool’s Dream is commissioned by Liverpool City Council and funded by Liverpool City Region and Arts Council England with Liverpool and Wirral hosting the largest street theatre event to take place in the UK this year.

The first Giants event in Liverpool, ‘Sea Odyssey’, was held in April 2012 to commemorate the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic.  The event had an estimated attendance of around 800,000 spectators.  In July 2014 the Giants returned to Liverpool for ‘Memories of August 1914’ Liverpool’s World War I centenary commemorations which attracted an estimated one million visitors.  This year’s event ‘Liverpool’s Dream’ celebrating the ten-year anniversary of Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture seemed to have an even larger attendance, it was difficult to get a space anywhere along the route and official sources suggest a total of 1.3 million spectators watched the event.

Royal Deluxe started their Giants spectaculars way back in 1993 and they have preformed in France, Belgium, England, Germany, Iceland, Chile, Australia, Mexico, Canada, Switzerland, Netherlands and Ireland.  They have performed to over 3 million spectators at shows in both Santiago in Chile and Guadalajara in Mexico but the Artistic Director and founder of Royal de Luxe, Jean-Luc Courcoult, has announced that this event in Liverpool will be their last as the current family of puppets will retire after the event.  It has been said that they are now working on a new show featuring a silverback gorilla.

For this year’s event there were three street marionettes.  The Giants are controlled by dozens of Lilliputians.  The Little Boy Giant was new to the City this year.  He was inspired after working in African villages, Royal de Luxe created the Little Boy Giant in 1997 which was premiered in Cameroon. He is 20-foot high, weighs 600kg and needs 27 Lilliputians (23 from Royal de Luxe and 4 local) to manipulate him.

Returning to the City for the third time was the man Giant who is a massive 33-foot high and weighs 2.5 tonnes. Able to move at 2km an hour, he needs 44 Lilliputians (30 from Royal de Luxe and 14 local) to move his body which is made of steel, lime and poplar wood.  His hair is made of horsehair, eyelashes made of broom hair and his eyes are streetlamp lights moved by small motors.

And also returning for the third time was Xolo (pronounced cho-low).  A very playful dog scampering up and down the city streets is a firm favourite with many spectators.  He is 9ft tall and weighs 200kg.  The fastest of all the giants, he can travel at 4km an hour and needs 23 Lilliputians to operate him (19 from Royal de Luxe and 4 local). He is made of steel and papier mâché.

I managed to get to see the Giants on each the three main days of activity.  The action kicked off on Friday morning in Liverpool on St George’s Hall Plateau with the Little Boy Giant and Xolo waking up and then setting out across the city.  At the same time the man Giant was on the other side of the Mersey in New Brighton in Wirral waking up at Fort Perch Rock and then exploring the promenade and sea front. I managed to get here to watch him explore the town.  The crowds were out in force and I could not get to see him lying on the beach where he had been ‘washed up overnight’.  There was a brass band on the beach and a lone violinist played the ‘Leaving of Liverpool’ sat in a dump truck full of violins.

From laying on the beach overnight near to Fort Perch lighthouse the Giant was hoisted up from and fitted into his mobile framework and then he walked from Fort Perch along the main promenade, along the way he was given a drink by passing Firemen.

On his return to the Floral Pavilion in the afternoon the Giant was transferred onto a lorry and he would be taken over to Liverpool where he was discovered on a raft floating in Canning Dock on Saturday morning.

On Saturday all the Giants came together in in Liverpool and they spent the rest of their time in the city together.

I managed to negotiate the long queues at the local railway stations to get in and back out of Liverpool City Centre to see the giants in the afternoon sunlight along the Strand where the usual heavy traffic was absent.

On the Strand the Boy Giant and Xolo had a street race along the dual carriageway between Liverpool One and the Albert Dock.

The crowd joined in the excitement as the two sets of puppets controlled by the Lilliputians sped down the Strand and back performing a half dozen circuits, the boy giant with his special googles and steering wheel and Xolo in his running vest.

The show culminated on Sunday with a focus on the waterfront and a parade finale.  I managed to get along in the morning to watch proceedings again from the Strand next to Salthouse dock.  At the end of the morning procession the Little Boy Giant who was inside a giant sandal was dropped into Salthouse Dock and in tow to a small boat he was taken off in a cloud of smoke.

The Giant and Xolo continued their journey up to Brunswick Dock where they had a siesta before returning back to Canning Dock where they too were to leave the City once again.

We were told that as this is Royal de Luxe’s final ever time in the city, we could expect some surprises.  Well I missed the main one which happened in the final part of the spectacular which took place on Sunday afternoon with a surprise appearance of the Little Girl Giant.  She was dressed in a new red and blue patterned dress.  Her old green one had been spotted hanging on washing line along with her yellow sou’wester coat suspended between Viva Brazil and Castle Street Townhouse on Castle Street which the Giant was lifted over on Saturday.  Many people had expressed their disappointment that she wouldn’t be returning on social media, when this year’s Giants line-up was announced.

There were many other elements of street theatre during the course of the Giants weekend.  Elements that I saw included the lone violinist in a dumper truck full of violins playing the leaving of Liverpool and a car with a fork sticking through it was spotted on Leece Street and I’m told a single decker bus was cut down the middle by a large knife near to St Georges Hall.

And after three full days the event was over and the streets of Liverpool returned back to normal once more. But I’m sure many people would like to see the Giants return again…

Advertisements

Lost Castle of Liverpool

A rather belated posting from the weekend of 9 to 12 August when I visited the ‘Lost Castles’ in Liverpool city centre, one of the installations from the first community cultural art project to involve all six boroughs of the Liverpool City Region.  This saw hundreds of volunteers work with renowned French artist Olivier Grossetȇte to create monumental structures based on medieval forts or historic structures which were in the region at one time.  All the structures were made of cardboard, tape and community spirit!  The art installations were another part of Liverpool 2018 celebrating ten years since being European Capital of Culture.

The hundreds of volunteers worked with thousands of cardboard boxes to build monumental castle-inspired structures.  Anyone who signed up to help create these magical structures was able to join in the fun of toppling them at the end of the weekend.

The cardboard buildings were over 20 metres high, with each borough using their own heritage as inspiration.  Creative director Olivier Grossetȇte, researched the history of the six boroughs and came up with designs which he hoped would do the heritage of each area justice.  In interviews he has said that it is rewarding to work on a project which brings together a community in producing a unique piece of art which reflects where they live and then to have the fun of the demolition at the end so that within hours it is like the castles never existed and it was just a ‘wonderful dream’.

In Wirral in Ashton Park West Kirby, a Viking stave church was built to celebrate Wirral’s unique Viking history and Norse connections. The area is thought to have been almost a Viking state with its own borders, customs, trading point and language.  I had hoped to get along here but couldn’t make it and during heavy rains late on Saturday the structure collapsed.  The whole event here was featured on BBC1’s ‘The One Show’ on national television.

In Knowsley Safari Park a structure taking its inspiration from Elsinore Castle which features in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and celebrating the Elizabethan and Jacobean heritage of Knowsley was built.

In Halton at Norton Priory a construction inspired by Halton Castle, a medieval ruin a mile and a half away in Halton village was built.

In Victoria Square, St Helens saw a partial recreation of Stuttgart Old Castle built to commemorate the 70th twinning anniversary between St Helens and the German city of Stuttgart – which was the first post-war twinning to take place between a British and German town.

In the Borough of Sefton Bootle Castle, also known as Miller’s Castle, was recreated in North Park, along with two nearby Bootle landmarks – the obelisks which in the 1800s acted as a navigation point for ships entering the Mersey.

In Liverpool where I went, a castle was built inspired by Liverpool Castle which stood at the top of modern day Lord Street.  It is thought to have been built early in the 13th Century – around the 1230s.  The re-creation was built in nearby Williamson Square near the centre of the city centre.

During Saturday there was a fairy-tale themed programme with knights in shining armour, juggling and stilt walking jesters, princes, princesses, kings, queens and a dragon to entertain the crowds. There was story-telling throughout the day along with live music supplying a medieval soundtrack to the activities.

On Sunday 12 August communities were encouraged to come together once again to topple the structure.  As an exciting finale, each castle was laid siege, destroyed and then the environmentally-friendly ‘Lost Castle’s’ will be responsibly recycled.

It was interesting to watch shoppers and visitors exploring the cardboard castle in Williamson Square and going about their business on a busy Saturday afternoon.

Memories of August 1914

With ‘Memories of August 1914’ Liverpool saw the return of the giant marionettes created by French company Royal de Luxe.  They visited the city back in April 2012 (see my posting of the event on 22/4/12) to commemorate the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic which was part of the Liverpool based White Star Line fleet.  This year the giants’ spectacular was being held to commemorate 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War.

OK3A1245v2

OK3A1340v2

OK3A1278v3

The event started on 23 July when Grandma Giant was discovered sleeping inside St George’s Hall.  Around 42,000 people flocked to see her there during her two day of slumbers which included snoring and her breaking wind!

OK3A1339v2

OK3A1343v2

On Friday she woke up, and was joined by the Little Girl Giant and her pet dog Xolo and the three took to the city’s streets with the intention of telling the story about Liverpool and World War I.

OK3A1335v2

OK3A1289v2

OK3A1390v2

The giants covered some 30 miles in total on Liverpool’s streets over the weekend covering much of the city centre.

OK3A1321v2

 

OK3A1292v2

 

OK3A1258v2

During Friday’s route the Grandmother Giant was delayed by about an hour after her head came lose when she broke wind.  Once her head was secured she was moved in her wheelchair to meet the little girl and Xolo in Newsham Park for the night’s stopover.

OK3A1290v3

OK3A1265v2

 

OK3A1347v2

The very colourful director of Royal de Luxe Jean-Luc Courcoult had set out the story for the three day event.  As he outlined it: the Grandmother comes to Liverpool with one of her children to tell us the story of the happy people who went away in August 1914 with the King’s Regiment to save Britain and Europe.  In August 1914 it was well before the horrors of the war began to unfold.  Europe at this point in time was gripped by the war frenzy and the excitement of what lay ahead.

 

OK3A1455v2

Whilst on Friday and Saturday the three giants ‘walked’ across the city with their Lilliputian helpers; on Sunday walking along the Strand on the Liverpool waterfront for the grand finale they were joined by some of the ‘Liverpool Pals’.  I only saw them from a distance as I was the other side of Canning Dock.

OK3A1296v2

 

OK3A1311v2

OK3A1309v2

The ‘Pals’ are a key part of the story.  The Earl of Derby was Liverpool’s Lord Mayor in 1911, was a Conservative MP for the city, president of the city’s chamber of commerce and chancellor of the university.  When Lord Kitchener made an appeal for “the first 100,000” volunteers to fight in the war in August 1914, Lord Derby wanted to ensure that the city was at the forefront of the World War One recruitment drive.

OK3A1405v2

On 24 August, he met with Kitchener to ask if he could raise a battalion from the city’s commercial class. Three days later, he called for men to serve in “a battalion of comrades” in the Liverpool newspapers.  He felt that there were many men, such as clerks and others engaged in commercial business, who would be willing to enlist in a battalion of Lord Kitchener’s new army if they felt assured they would be able to serve with their friends and not be put in a battalion with men that they did not know.

OK3A1375v2

By the end of September 1914 there were more than fifty towns across the country where men enlisted together in local recruiting drives.  The Earl of Derby was the first to call such local battalions ‘Pals’ battalions.  Some of the larger towns and cities like Liverpool were able to form several battalions each.  As he put it, those signing up should form “a battalion of pals, a battalion in which friends from the same office fight shoulder to shoulder for the honour of Britain and the credit of Liverpool”.  The huge casualties from the war meant whole communities and workplaces were to change forever.  By the end of the war, some 2,800 Liverpool Pals had been killed.  Despite the huge death toll, Lord Derby’s popularity remained and he went on to become Secretary of State for War and later the Ambassador to France.

OK3A1450v2

I joined the crowds on Saturday evening to photograph the giants on the city centre streets before they stayed overnight at Clarence Dock.  On Sunday morning 27th July I joined the throngs of people around Canning Dock next to the Albert Dock complex to watch the Grandmother and Little Girl Giant depart Liverpool on a barge into the River Mersey.

OK3A1329v2

OK3A1351v2

OK3A1280v2

The Giants did a circuit around the Three Graces on the Pierhead.  It gave the opportunity for passengers on the Ruby Princess cruise ship who were berthed at the cruise liner terminal a chance to see some of the action.

OK3A1359v2

 

OK3A1358v2

OK3A1363v2

The procession along The Strand next to the Liverpool waterfront was accompanied by music and percussion blasting out from musicians in vehicles accompanying the procession.  The percussion section were stood on cars stacked on top of each other, quite a sight.

OK3A1396v2

OK3A1464v2

OK3A1459v2

Last time the Giants were in the city, they were estimated to have pulled in £32m for the economy with around 800,000 spectators and visitors staying in hotels, eating out at restaurants and spending money in shops. Every part of town there were spectators eager to see the parade.

OK3A1408v2

OK3A1410v2

The Grandmother and Little Girl Giant were lifted onto two beds on a river going barge and they departed Canning Dock amid clouds of dry ice which the Lilliputians were furiously emptying over the sides of the barge being hauled by a small tugboat.

OK3A1412v2

OK3A1423v2

OK3A1433v2

It is estimated that one million people have attended the event this time and the Giants certainly made a big impression with the people of Merseyside and beyond.  The transport system particularly the Merseyrail service has never been under so much pressure with the number of travellers getting into and back out of the city centre with Lime Street station forced to close on Friday evening due to the sheer weight of travellers.  Authorities from Perth in Australia and Chicago in the USA were in the city to see how the giants’ spectacular was hosted as they hope to put on similar events in the next year.  But many many people are hoping the giants will return sometime soon back to Liverpool.

Light Night Liverpool 2014

The annual ‘Museums at Night’ festival gives visitors free access to museums from sunset onwards along with special one-off events around the UK.  It ran from Thursday 15th to Saturday 17th May.  On Friday night the annual ‘Light Night Liverpool’ took place as part of this national event.

As well as access to museums, art galleries, exhibitions and special performances there were a range of events out on the streets.  I tried to get around as many as I could with my camera.  I decided to leave my tripod in the car and walked around the city taking some handheld shots which meant I have had to really push the ISO film speed settings on my camera.

The one-night event celebrates the city’s arts and culture scene in over 50 venues across the city with many of the events adopting a World War I theme as 2014 marks the 100-year anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.  There are further events planned in the city to mark the start of the ‘Great War’.

There were thousands of people in the city along with the usual night time revelers who were packing the bars and clubs.  There was a tremendous atmosphere around the city as people made their way around the venues, taking in the sights and sounds of Light Night.

Light Night projections

There were two ‘Light Night projections’ one shone on the Bluecoat building, an arts centre in one of the city’s oldest buildings in the centre of town and the second on the Bell Tower of Liverpool’s Metropolitan Catholic Cathedral. The two projections paid tribute to the centenary commemorations of World War One showing how the war was reported back on the ‘Home Front’.

OK3A1113v2

OK3A1021v2

OK3A1024v2

The Catholic Cathedral is in the university quarter and university buildings and the Everyman Theatre were all lit up adding to the atmosphere as the light started to fade and the projections switched on.

OK3A1020v2

OK3A1099v2

OK3A1102v2

OK3A1108v2

The First World War was the first total war, with the whole nation mobilised behind the campaign.  Men enlisted to the army while women took on jobs in industry to keep the country running and to help the ‘war effort’.  The projections convey the sense of optimism for the war through archive photographs, postcards, newspapers and other memorabilia.

OK3A1075v2

OK3A1081v2

At the Bluecoat the voice of David Charters, a former Liverpool Daily Post journalist known as the ‘Bard of Birkenhead’ was played reading his play ‘A Dream of Wilfred Owen’ alongside the slide show.  Wilfred Owen lived in Birkenhead and as well as a soldier he was one of the leading poets of the First World War.

OK3A1080v2

Candle lit Labyrinth at Blackburne House

Blackburne House is a Grade II listed building, situated in Liverpool’s Hope Street quarter.  It is a centre of education for women as well as hosting range of social enterprises.

OK3A1012v2

The labyrinth is a design by Gareth Price from Reddoscar, who has designed and built labyrinths for the LightNight Festival over the last four years.  It is supported by LIPA, Blackburne House and Liverpool LightNight 2014.

OK3A1017v2

The public were encouraged to take a walk under the stars, through the candle-lit labyrinth, in the setting of Blackburne House.  The labyrinth is an ancient symbol of creativity and mindfulness and as the organizers say ‘testament to the creative spirit of Liverpool and its community’.

It was still light at 8.30pm when I captured some images of the event here.

Friends of the Flyover and BEGA ‘Lighting the Way’ exhibition

OK3A1097v2

The Churchill Way flyover runs from Islington, past Central Library, Walker Art Gallery and the World Museum through to Dale Street.  It was built in the early 1970s and won a Concrete Society Award in 1971.  It is the only surviving part of a wider plan to give Liverpool an urban motorway network in the 1970s which would have seen the M62 brought through the city centre right down to the docks on the banks of the River Mersey.

OK3A1082v2

Liverpool City Council has proposed demolishing the flyover in its future planning strategy however the ‘Friends of the Flyover’ has raised £40,000 through a crowd funding website.  The group was set up after the city’s 2012 Strategic Investment Framework proposed the removal of the Churchill Way flyover.

OK3A1084v2

The group plan to transform the unloved concrete structures into a cycle and pedestrian-friendly parkway with arts spaces, landscape gardens and coffee shops.  The project has been compared to New York’s High Line a linear park built on the site of an old railway, which has revitalised part of Manhattan’s West Side.

OK3A1090v2

For Light Night the Friends of the Flyover invited members of the public to join design professionals and students to create a temporary lighting installation on the walkways of Churchill Way Flyover to see how light can transform spaces.  The event was hosted with Zumbtobel and BEGA lighting companies.  There were some rudimentary lighting units and ‘art installations’ along the walkways.

OK3A1091v2

Bring the Fire Project: Japanese Fire

OK3A1049v2

Bring the Fire Project is a Liverpool based collective of fire performers, circus skills teachers and flow arts promoters and they are first fire dancing group based in the city.

OK3A1056v2

Their performance comprised of live drumming, fire costumes and dancing with a mixture of elements taken from Japanese traditions.

OK3A1071v2

The troop use a variety of costumes and fire apparatus to turn their performances into a symmetry of patterns combining with the human body in motion.

OK3A1057v2

Fire dancing is a stunningly beautiful art form, which is gradually growing in popularity, and they believe that now is a good moment to provide people with the chance to discover, practice and perform in Liverpool.

OK3A1038v2

Bring the Fire Project were accompanied with live drumming from TaikoDragons, a Wirral based organisation who teach, share and showcase the ancient art of Japanese Taiko across Wirral and Merseyside

OK3A1063v2

TaikoDragons is supported by Merseyside Police as an activity designed originally to provide an outlet for young people.  TaikoDragons now work with many sectors of the community including people with special educational needs, those with sight and hearing limitations, the elderly and many more sectors within the community.

OK3A1069v2

I did not get a great vantage point but managed to capture some elements of the event which took place at Wellington’s Column outside the Walker Art Gallery where many spectators headed after the performance.

As well as the special Light Night exhibitions there were some old friends lit up in the Liverpool night sky, including the Radio City Tower photographed from Mount Pleasant.

OK3A1027v2

 

“Out of the Blue” lantern parade New Brighton Marine Lake

On Saturday night I went down to New Brighton where a lantern parade was taking place around the Marine Lake.  The event called “Out of the Blue – a Winter Celebration of Wirral’s Coastal Treasures” was being held to celebrate the end of Wirral’s Year of Coast and Countryside which I had been unaware of up till now.

IMG_6225v2

There was a large crowd which thronged the parade and some local residents had grandstand views from their flat windows.

IMG_6238v2

The procession started by the sailing centre at the new Marine Point development snaking along the Marine Lake to Fort Perch and then along the promenade where the various strange sea characters moved in and out of the crowd.

IMG_6241v2

IMG_6256v2

The sea creatures included a giant sea bird, illuminated fish and glowing maritime characters such as bird people and illuminated sea ladies.  The event was accompanied by music which all seemed to be about being a lighthouse keeper, from what I could hear it sounded like a concept album which was played through at least twice.

IMG_6242v2

IMG_6257v2

IMG_6270v2

The event was organised using Liverpool 2008 ‘Capital of Culture’ Legacy funding which had to be spent by the end of this year  The Liverpool Lantern Company who were responsible for a Halloween event in Sefton Park in October put on this lantern carnival parade.

IMG_6251v2

IMG_6248v2

IMG_6247v2

The end of the procession was accompanied by a fireworks display from a pontoon in the middle of the marine lake.

IMG_6263v2

IMG_6234v2

IMG_6264v2

As the music finished and the fireworks faded the large crowd drifted way with some taking the opportunity to sample the fish and chips and the candy floss before heading home.

IMG_6226v2

Brazilica 2012

From Friday 13th through to 15th July Liverpool city centre was the venue for Brazilica which is the UK’s biggest Samba carnival that brings a taste of Brazil’s carnival atmosphere to the city.

I was in town yesterday late in the afternoon and I managed to savour some of the atmosphere in Williamson Square which hosted the main festival activity.  There was the Brazilica Main Stage with live authentic sounds of Brazilian musicians.  All around the square were a wide range of stalls selling Brazilian food and drink as well as a Brazilian street market. Over in Clayton Square I found out afterwards was a soccer zone playing host to exhibitions of footballing talents.

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the start of the carnival which was going to be a dazzling night-time parade. The carnival was starting off from Abercrombie Square near to Liverpool University at 8pm finishing at Williamson Square around 10pm.  Hundreds of performers were to take part in this Rio-style carnival weaving it’s way through the city centre with glittering costumes and floats moving to a powerful samba beat.  I will make sure I’m there next year and that I can take some better photographs which do justice to the atmosphere of the event.

City of Giants

Over the weekend of Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd April Liverpool was treated to the ‘Sea Oddysey Giant Spectacular’.  Sea Odyssey is a street theatre production where giant marionettes enact a tale of love, loss and reunion played out across the streets and open spaces of North Liverpool, the city centre and the waterfront.

The ‘Sea Oddysey Giant Spectacular’ sees a 30ft giant girl and a 50ft giant man who ‘walk’ around the city on Friday and Saturday before finding each other and meeting up at the Kings Dock in the city’s waterfront on Saturday evening.  On Sunday the two giants and the dog walk from the Kings Dock along the water front before getting aboard a boat in Canning Dock to leave the city of Liverpool and go on with their journey.

The little girl giant is accompanied by a papier mache puppet dog called Xolo.

The event’s story has been created by Nantes-based French company Royal de Luxe as part of Liverpool’s commemorations for the recent 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  Royal De Luxe is a company made up of actors, aerialists, engineers, inventors, technicians, metal-workers and poets, led by Artistic Director Jean-Luc Courcoult. They are recognised across the world for pioneering new forms of street theatre.

The story being re-enanacyed is about a stowaway on the Titanic. A thirty foot tall giant capable of travelling through time, on his way to another continent to meet his daughter, the little giant girl.  When the ship hit the iceberg the Giant plummeted 12,000 feet to the ocean floor. When the little giant girl heard the news, she sought out her uncle, the great giant’s brother.  The uncle made a decision that was to take him a century to carry out. He made himself a diving suit and he scoured the ocean floor for the shipwreck. When he found the wreck he buried his brother in the deep-sea bed and he found the letter the great giant had written to the little giant girl.  He vowed he would return to the little girl giant and he walked across the sea floor pulling the Titanic’s mail trunk to bring back the post to Liverpool.

The Sea Odyssey story was based on a real life letter written by a 10-year-old  girl living in Kensington in Liverpool to her father on board the Titanic. May McMurray was just 10 years-old when she wrote her letter to her dad William McMurray who was a first class bedroom steward on the Titanic. He perished without ever seeing the letter when the ship sank on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean on 15 April 1912.  Whilst RMS Titanic was built in Belfast by Harland and Wolfe it was operated by the Liverpool based White Star line and many of the staff and crew came from Liverpool.

For years the family hoped and prayed that one day William would walk through  the door like he’d always done before and that by some miracle he’d somehow  survived. But his body was never found.  The family later donated the moving letter to Merseyside Maritime Museum, where  it caught the eye of Jean-Luc Courcoult, founder of France’s Royal de Luxe  marionette street theatre company, and became the inspiration for ‘Sea Odyssey’.

The giant puppets  were being moved by a team of 110 puppeteers and crane operators, who refer to themselves as Lilliputians, after the race of tiny people in Jonathan Swift’s 18th Century novel Gulliver’s Travels.  The giants have previously appeared in Nantes, Berlin, Santiago in Chile and Guadalajara in Mexico before coming to Liverpool.

It was facinating watching lines of the puppeteers jumping off the supporting platform several feet up pulling on the ropes to raise the giants’ feet off the ground in order for them to walk.

The event was estimated to have attracted over 600,000 people over the three days.  Many roads in the city were closed along the giant puppets’ route.  At every vantage point there were thousands of people standing dozens deep on the route across the city.  There were so many people it was hard to get a clear view of the puppets particulalry Xolo the dog who was not as tall as the little girl giant and her uncle.

The giants had lots of surprises.  During one part of their walk through the Strand giant cymbals shot confetti and letters from children into the air which fell all around the crowd.

The giant man leapt over Liverpool’s 44ft (13.5m) Chinese arch, the largest outside mainland China.

After walking 23 miles across the city on the final day Sunday 22 April the giant puppets boarded the James Jackson Grundy a Mersey Weaver Steam Packet Coaster which was originally used by ICI on the Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal to transport soda to their works.  The boat sailed out from the Canning Dock along to Kings Dock for their final farewell before turning around and heading out towards the sea passing in front of the Albert Dock, Mann Island and the Pierhead.

The working River Mersey tug the Ashgarth gave the giants a watery send off.

The James Jackson Grundy was accompanied by two sailing ships the three masted TS Pelican of London and the sailing brig the Stavros S Niarchos and a flotilla of ships including the river pilot and tug boats.

The Mersey Ferries were running full today with the passengers getting a birds eye view of the giants sailing up the river.

The crowd waved to the giants as they sailed off down the river and out to sea.