Sunday, January 24, 2016

All you need is love: the Beatles stamps in the Liverpool docks

In a let's catch up with the sister-blog in French: beginning of translation and adaptation of my articles after my (numerous) visits to Liverpool and Chester, England.

I'm just back from Liverpool, the former huge port of the North West England and now a growing university, touristic and nightlife cities, even if the 1945-1980s wreckage can be seen here and there (and first on Monday morning in front of local post offices).

The 2016 trip was a bit frisky but sunny. On the philatelic side, I made a discovery I should have made way before.

To start: let's remind that the port of Liverpool, from the docks themselves to place where trade was done and passengers were hosted after their train trip, is listed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The first stamp of The Beatles Story booklet by the private operator Universal Mail UK.
The port in activity is now downstream the Mersey River, with some installations upstream, but it's nothing compared to its former glory and the containerised leader of Rotterdam.

Facing the town center, the older docks are now visitable under Liverpool One commercial center when the Pier Head Promenade is a platform over the waters when you walk from the Titanic Memorial to the Museum of Liverpool. Note that's the memorial is at the entrance of the Isle of Man Steam Packet ferry pier.

Continue to walk to the Albert Dock, a square shaped bassin surrounded by former warehouses, opened in 1846. It was an inventive infrastructure: the first in Britain with no wooden structure for example. To turn it into a more modern and profitable use, chic restaurants and four museums are hosted there now.

Two free public one: the Merseyside Maritime Museum (with enough different exhibitions, objects and activities to entertain you a whole day long) and upstairs the International Slavery Museum that covers all the aspects of the Atlantic Trade from how people lived in West Africa four centuries ago to the suffering of Amerindians and Africans during the colonisation of the Americas and, for the letter, life in the plantations. Finally, the museum reflects on the black history (a difficult concept to explain in France where the expression "gender studies" are misinterpreted by most people) of Liverpool, a former slaver port. Currently, an exhibit warns visitors about child labor and poor women enslavement in India.

The complete The Beatles Story booklet with four of the exhibit rooms.
The first private one is a local window of the Tate Gallery - presenting paintings by Matisse until May 2nd.

The second one, of philatelic importance today, is The Beatles Story, a museum on the career of the famous rock group born in the city. A set of rooms, highly decorated, full of songs and fans' shrieks from Britain, Germany, the United States, etc. from the first local public party of two brothers to the inside a Yellow Submarine.

Emotion is lively in the final two rooms. The first summarized the life of the four beetles after their separation, concluding with a white memorial to John Lennon, his piano, guitar, glasses and the song Imagine.

La couverture du carnet The Beatles Story reprend les mentions de l'opérateur en bas, mais le logotype et la présentation publicitaire du musée.
This White Room is one of the four presented on the five stamp booklet sold at the museum's shop, and ordered to the private postal operator Universal Mail United Kingdom.

For those who missed the many articles and threads on philatelic blogs and forums, not forgetting philatelic press, Universal Mail UK issued postage stamps since 2008, valid for the postcard up to 10 grams sent outside the United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies.

The company is gracious enough to catalogue them all there, but the "Bespoke" ones can only be found in the places concerned, like The Beatles Story.

The main advantages for tourists are that the stamps are sold in touristic areas shops: from museum shops to little newspaper/sodas/sweets vendors around. Then the cards can be thrown into the Royal Mail red boxes... because Universal Mail contracted the British operator to take care of the postal process (even if 2nd class mail maybe spee...).

If Universal Mail sells them at the Royal Mail international rate: currently five pounds the booklet of five, I know that street shops and museums can around it: five pounds fifty at The Beatles Story. The price of personalisation or of free market?

With your ticket you can continue to a film and another exhibit in a second site on the other side of the Pier Head Promenade (I haven't done it yet), and then begin the evening with improvised concert in the Cavern on Matthew Street where The Beatles began their stage debut sometimes ago.

But remember that all the pubs around you are housed into the former warehouses of the port of the British Empire, storing all kind of tropical fruits and some insects.

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