The Mersey Ferry, Snowdrop, Dazzled by Sir Peter Blake

Snowdop ferry on the Mersey Dazzled by Peter Blake

It was a joy, even on a dull day, to watch the brightest Snowdrop in England take passengers along Liverpool’s Mersey river, providing a living art and history lesson as she sailed.

One of two ships painted as contemporary dazzle ships, Snowdrop is the only one in operation. The design was originally conceived in monochrome, but the artist added bright colours to make the design cheerful.

The project was a hat tip to wartime artists who covered British ships in black and white patterns, known as dazzle camouflage, to confuse any U-boats surfacing briefly to try to sink them. Torpedos needed to be fired just ahead of the boats which would continue on into them. Wild patterns were the sailors’ best hope of making it harder to work out which way their ship was travelling.

Sir Peter Blake was quoted in The Guardian as saying he feared what the reaction to the ‘dazzled’ ship might be in some quarters. He explained, ‘I was very respectful of it: I checked things like whether I was okay to change the funnel.’ That made me smile. For more about the project, check out the Liverpool Picturebook.

I’m sharing this dazzle ship as a token of respect and gratitude to Prince Philip who served on a ship during wartime and loved being at sea. Our Queen fell for him at first sight and this is a sorry day for those who loved him, including many British people unrelated to him other than by affection.

If I had rights to share the picture of Prince Philip standing in the pouring rain while inspecting troops, aged 97, doffing his bowler hat in respect, I would, for that image is how I will remember him.

There are prevarications around this but, for me, one of many consequences of sexism in British society is that while a man born to be king can have his wife sit beside him as queen, a woman born to be queen cannot have the equivalent, as king is held to have higher status than queen. I had hoped that might be addressed in Prince Philip’s lifetime but now it cannot be.

29 Replies to “The Mersey Ferry, Snowdrop, Dazzled by Sir Peter Blake”

  1. as you say thought provoking indeed – a lovely tribute though to everyone who served in the navy as well as Prince Philip

  2. I think Prince Philip would value your tribute deeply, not just your words but your image and its history, not to mention its updated version. I did not know that about the spouse of king or queen, and I cringe to read it. Also I had never known of dazzle ships. Thank you for the history lessons.

    1. I’ve never heard it mentioned, let alone debated, and constitutional experts would find some excuse for it, but the facts are simple. King Henry VIII, an extreme example, had a succession of six Queens of England. They were Queen Consorts (ie married to the King). We have never had a King Consort. Queen Elizabeth I was unmarried, Queen Victoria had Prince Albert, Queen Elizabeth II had Prince Philip.

  3. Lovely tribute! Believe it or not, I learned about dazzle camouflage on The Great Pottery Throw Down, when one of the contestants used it as decoration for a pot. Until then, I had never heard of it. Funny how that happens.

  4. They were such a loving couple! The sights they’ve seen and storms they weathered. A lovely tribute, Susan. I’m watching the service now, along with so many others, out of respect. 💕💕

    1. The piper pretty much finished me off. The bit I liked best was that red tupperware pot with his hat and gloves in the carriage – he kept sugar lumps in it to treat the horses.

      1. Yes, the piper got me too! He was a good guy, wasn’t he? Nice to see the grandkids being civil. You do wonder how much is just the press stirring it. A lonely life for HRM now 😦

        1. I liked him, and yes, it was. The press is unrelenting and cruel. It is ridiculous to give praise only after someone has died.

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