Follow the Leader

Image credit: Merseyside Maritime Museum

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This illustrates a well-known incident when the No. 2 Liverpool pilot boat 'Leader' led twelve vessels over the bar at the entrance to the Mersey during a gale on 8th February 1881. An assorted group of vessels had arrived at the entrance to the river but there was insufficient depth of water to cross the bar. The master of the 'Leader' instructed them to heave-to and then established an order of precedence according to their draughts. As the tide turned he signalled them ‘Follow Me’ and led them over the bar to relative safety. Witham depicts the scene in some detail showing the red buoy (with a Q) marking the entrance to the Queen’s Channel on the starboard side. 'Leader' is rigged with a special storm sail on the main and a storm jib.

Merseyside Maritime Museum



Follow the Leader




oil on canvas (?)


H 40.5 x W 71 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

gift, 1984

Work type



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Merseyside Maritime Museum

Albert Dock, Liverpool, Merseyside L3 4AQ England

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