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Celebration in Birkenhead of naval hero

A special ceremony was held at Birkenhead Town Hall on Saturday 30th November to celebrate the unveiling of a bust of one of history’s great naval heroes – of Peru.

Admiral Miguel Grau, who was commander of the Peruvian navy’s fleet in the 1870s was regarded as the most outstanding naval commander in the country’s naval history. He is celebrated nationally and internationally.

The bust has been donated by the Peruvian Navy and will be permanently installed in Birkenhead Town Hall.

His most famous ship, the ironclad Huascar was built by Laird Brothers of Birkenhead (now Cammell Laird) and launched in 1866. It had been ordered by Peru for the war against Spain which at the time was seeking to reclaim its former American colonies.

Admiral Miguel Grau became a Peruvian hero in a subsequent conflict against Chile, overcoming superior forces.

The bust of Admiral Miguel Grau was commissioned by the Peruvian Navy in tribute to the historic naval links between Peru and Birkenhead, and follows the unveiling of a plaque at the shipyard in 2011 highlighting the role Cammell Laird played in building the legendary ironclad ship.

The ceremony, hosted by the Mayor of Wirral, Cllr Tony Smith, was attended by many high ranking Peruvian guests.

These included Lord Lieutenant, Mark Blundell, Ambassador of Peru Juan Carlos Gammara Skeels, Vice Admiral Francisco Giapmpietri representing the Chief commander of the Peruvian Navy and Rear Admiral Ricardo Romero, Defence and Naval Attache of Peru.

Mayor of Wirral, Cllr Tony Smith, said: “It was a great honour to welcome our Peruvian guests to celebrate Birkenhead’s shipbuilding history.

“The bust donated by the Peruvian Navy and will now be proudly displayed in Birkenhead Town Hall.

“It is also a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the astonishing history of ship building here, the heritage of Birkenhead and Cammell Laird and the impact it has had on history across the globe.”