L7 Weekly Specialist Science Lesson With The Western Approaches Museum

In place of their weekly specialist science lesson, the L7’s have been given an opportunity to further their studies on WWII via the Western Approaches Museum in Liverpool. 

The City of Liverpool had a very important role to play in the Second World War. Liverpool was Britain’s main convoy port and helped to maintain Britain’s relationship with the United States and Canada – a lifeline which was crucial for Britain’s survival and the ultimate Allied victory.

During the course of the war, over 1,000 convoys arrived on the River Mersey. Many warships and merchant ships were repaired and built on the Merseyside, and thousands of ordinary Liverpool people were involved in the war effort.

The first German bombs landed in Merseyside on 9 August 1940 at Prenton, Birkenhead (a suburb of Liverpool). 

On 7 February 1941, Combined Operations moved to Derby House at Exchange Flags because German aircraft and U-boats were attacking ships travelling in from the continent. The department became known as Western Approaches Command as it monitored Western Approaches, the rectangular area of the Atlantic Ocean lying immediately to the west of the British Isles. Liverpool subsequently became an important strategic position in the Second World War.

Western Approaches was the nerve-centre of the Battle of the Atlantic during World War Two, playing a role as important as the Cabinet War Rooms in London or code-breaking centre Bletchley Park in the fight against Hitler’s Germany. The bunker sprawls over 30,000 square feet under Exchange Flags, was built in secret just before the outbreak of war, and at its height housed close to 400 mostly young women who managed the movement of hundreds of merchant ships that carried supplies into the UK via Liverpool during the war. After the war, the site was sealed up, only to be rediscovered and reopened as an attraction in the early 1990s.

Despite being nationally important, it fell into neglect until last year when a change of ownership saw the operation taken over by Big Heritage. The Chester-based non-profit organisation have a strong track record in engaging communities with history and heritage across the North West, and since reopening in October last year, visits to the site has ‘sky rocketed’ with the newly reinvigorated attraction winning plaudits from visitors, heritage experts and even World War Two veterans who have visited.

Each week, the museum hosts a live lesson via their Facebook page and YouTube. They provide worksheets and activities which can be done alongside the lesson, and the pupils are able to access and submit these via their L7’s Science Team. 

So far, they have looked at the importance of the Western Approaches role in WWII (it was the HQ of the Battle of the Atlantic); learnt about rationing and the important part this played in the welfare of all UK citizens during the war – they’ve even been given some ration recipes to try!; continued their Science learning about Morse code and learnt the difference between codes and ciphers.

Future lessons include: learning about evacuees and evacuation; a tour of the secret rooms of the secret bunker; wartime entertainment.

Here’s what some of our pupils have to say about their experience so far:

Esaad K: “So far I think it is enjoyable and it’s a user friendly place, so the online science lessons are great.”

Luke M: “So cool.”

Valentin B: “It’s really good.”


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