The sea has played a vital role in the development of many UK cities. As the UK's ports grew in wealth and importance, they aided the movement of people, goods and ideas and acted as gateways to the wider world. Port cities helped to create the UK of today.
PortCities explores the impact of this maritime world on UK culture. It tells the stories of the people who lived and worked in the port communities, the key events that shaped their lives, and the trades, industries and leisure activities that grew up around these busy commercial centres. PortCities contains previously unseen digitised source material and personal stories from the maritime collections of our museums, libraries and archives.
PortCities is a partnership of websites supported by the New Opportunities Fund. It gives access to the collections contributed by heritage organisation in five key maritime cities around the UK – Bristol, Hartlepool, Liverpool, London and Southampton.
The PortCities collection will grow as other museums, libraries and archives add their own port histories, giving a truly national picture of the UK's colourful maritime past.
Port Cities London
Since Roman times, London has been an important centre of trade and industry. The docks, shipyards, warehouses and factories along the Thames sustained maritime London's vibrant communities. Attracted by its opportunities, people from different social and ethnic backgrounds have transformed the port into a diverse and exciting city. Images, sources, audio and video clips and personal accounts bring to life the story of maritime London.
Port Cities Bristol
Bristol has a long trading history as a port city. In the 18th century, much of Bristol's wealth was generated by the transatlantic slave trade, which created fortunes for a few and subjected thousands of Africans to appalling cruelty and inhumanity. Records from slave traders, plantation owners, merchants and enslaved Africans are presented as source material for everyone interested in the history of this infamous trade.
Port Cities Liverpool
In 1207 Liverpool was a humble fishing village when King John granted it special privileges. 700 years later the redevelopment of the Pierhead created Liverpool's world-famous horizon, reflecting the city's proud claim to be the 'gateway to the world'. 20,000 images drawn from local museums, libraries and archives tell the fascinating story of the individuals, events and communities that shaped the port, the city and the wider Merseyside region.
Hartlepool's impressive growth during the 19th and 20th centuries was a direct result of its status as one of the world's most important shipbuilding centres. Discover an exciting digitised learning resource based on maritime source material from the collections of Hartlepool's libraries, museums and archives, including the records of the key shipbuilding firm of William Gray and Company.
Port Cities Southampton
PortCities Southampton provides a maritime archive for merchant shipping between 1930 and 1945. A rich collection of digitised resources, including Lloyd's Register books, thousands of photographs and documents explore Southampton's maritime history. Special areas of interest include wrecks and accidents at sea, the working lives of seafarers and dockers, and the important business of shipping.