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Planning and Panning - part 1 of 1 2

by Mike McNamee Published 01/06/2015


Mike McNamee discusses the ins and outs of planning with colleague Paul McMullin for the slightly unpredictable visit of some rather large boats!

The arrival of Queens Mary, Elizabeth and Victoria to the Port of Liverpool for Cunard's 150th year celebrations has been a long time in the planning. With as many as 1 million people predicted to descend on the city, McNamee and McMullin have been planning for months. The key objective is a new cover image for our 3rd edition of Liverpool the Great City. Publishers, Halsgrove, were persuaded to delay publication and so there is one, all-or-nothing chance to get the shot . And not at an ideal time of the day! The money-shot is probably going to be from an aircraft. A second objective is a large-scale panorama of the scene potentially for use as wall paper, there will after all be a surfeit of straight shots from the thousands of photographers - Cunard themselves will be posting press resolution images on their website as the scene unfolds.

Our mood has been up and down. Information has been sparse and often contradictory, as late as May 19 the Wirral council website simply said that the road closures were in the final stages of planning and organising! Other information suggested that the main road running parallel to the river would be closed for all of the day and beyond. We have also heard that push bikes will be banned from the promenade and so getting about is going to be trying!


An aircraft has been booked for months but there were rumours of a 'no-fly' zone. At the time of writing there were no Notams (Notice to Airmen) in place for the airspace over the river and so the flight looks as if it will be on after all. An additional hazard might be drones, the fact that it is illegal might not stop some of them being launched! Weather permitting, though, the aerial shot looks the most likely to succeed. Right at the last minute the pilot alerted us to a NOTAM for the take-off airport (Blackpool); a no-fly had been implemented to allow the Red Arrows to take off right on the time window we had chosen, McMullin will thus have to scramble earlier than planned!

Certain things we have been able to predict. The tide will be low during the procession of the ships up the river. All three are scheduled to meet at the mouth of the river and then process, line astern into the basin to perform manoeuvres in front of the Cunard building, depending upon the tidal flow and the wind (predicted at 14mph as we write). We can at least predict the state of the tide with some precision. Low tide is 11:35am, just about the time that QM2 meets up with the other two at the Brazil buoy which is about 200 yards off the corner of the peninsula. One the tugboat captains we have spoken to is sceptical that they can hold the three liners in position in any kind of tidal flow; the talk of a 'River Dance' is probably therefore a bit far-fetched. Even so the ships will have to do a turn somewhere, they can't back out of the river! Either way the departure of QM2 is scheduled between 2pm and 2:15pm so any river dancing will have to be quick and on time!

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1st Published 01/06/2015
last update 18/07/2022 16:31:47

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Updated 18/07/2022 16:31:47 Last Modified: Monday, 18 July 2022