Mayor welcomes dignitaries to seal historic links with Peru

The Mayor of Wirral, Councillor George Davies, welcomed dignitaries from the Peruvian Embassy in London to Wirral on Friday 15 October for a special ceremony to celebrate the bicentenary of Peru’s navy.

Rear Admiral Daniel Valencia was joined by some of his country’s top military leaders, including Captain Gustavo Livia, Colonel Alfredo Pérez and Captain Oscar Garrido-Lecca.

Birkenhead town hall was chosen to host the event as it is home to an impressive bust of one of history’s great naval heroes, Grand Admiral Miguel Grau of Peru.

Grand Admiral Grau was commander of the Peruvian fleet in the 1870s and is regarded as the most outstanding naval commander in the country’s history. He has a similar legendary status in Peru as Admiral Lord Nelson enjoys in the UK.

His most famous ship, the Huascar, was built by Laird Brothers of Birkenhead (which went on to merge with Sheffield firm Charles Cammell & Co to create 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. The vessel boasted an array of cutting-edge features, including revolving gun turrets and an iron ram which gave it a huge advantage over adversaries.

Grand Admiral Grau became a Peruvian hero in a subsequent conflict against Chile, where he overcome superior forces.

Mayor of Wirral, Councillor George Davies, said, “It was wonderful to welcome our Peruvian guests back to Wirral and cement a friendship forged in our great shipyards 135 years ago.

“Our recent links began a decade ago with the unveiling of a plaque at the shipyard to highlight the role Laird Brothers played in building the famous ironclad ship.

“Another high-level visit followed in 2019 when Peru’s Ambassador to the UK presented the magnificent bust of Grand Admiral Grau, which was a gift to Wirral from the Peruvian navy and has since been proudly displayed in the town hall.

“This latest visit has allowed us to reaffirm the bonds of history and friendship and celebrate the remarkable shipbuilders of Birkenhead and the contribution they have made to navies around the world.” 

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