SeaBritain North East 2005 - Celebrating A Region's Maritime Heritage

By Alastair Smith | 07 April 2005
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Shows a photograph of the newly redisplayed Turbinia - a long boat situated in a large hall at the Discovery Museum.

The ready-for-launch redisplayed Turbinia at Discovery Museum. Photo: Alastair Smith. © Alastair Smith/ 24 Hour Museum.

Museums across the North East are to set sail on a year of events to commemorate Britain’s rich maritime heritage.

SeaBritain North East 2005 will celebrate the links between the region’s seafaring tradition and mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

The North East is famous for shipbuilding and its pioneering sailors from Captain Cook to Admiral Lord Collingwood who will both feature in exhibitions.

Collingwood is often overlooked for his part in the Battle of Trafalgar and while Nelson was made a national icon, Collingwood remains one of history’s forgotten heroes.

Two exhibitions, at South Shields Museum and Art Gallery (April 16-June 12 2005) and Discovery Museum (October 6-December 16 2005) aim to redress this balance by telling the story of his role at Trafalgar and his involvement in planting oak trees across Northumbria.

Shows a photograph of the old Turbinia display - a long boat situated in a large hall at the Discovery Museum.

The Turbinia Hall at Discovery Museum in June 03, before the redisplay. Courtesy of Tyne and Wear Museums.

Discovery Museum in Newcastle upon Tyne is kicking off its SeaBritain celebrations by re-launching the display of the world’s first turbine-powered vessel, Turbinia.

“One of the key aims is that people will come into the building and know what Turbinia is, why it’s there and why we have got it,” explained Ian Thilthorpe, Principal Outreach and ICT Officer at Tyne and Wear Museums who oversaw the redevelopment.

“Turbinia was a major change for maritime transport, it revolutionised travel and made it quicker, safer and more efficient. The display demonstrates how the North East has been an area of innovation in a practical, scientific and industrial sense and still is at the cutting edge of technology.”

Shows a painting of the quayside on the River Tyne.

Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1886 by John Wallace, oil on canvas - to be part of Where the Tall Ships Are at Shipley Art Gallery. Courtesy of Tyne and Wear Museums..

This summer the Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead will be exhibiting paintings of the River Tyne’s quayside, from May 28 until September 4, to give an historical perspective to the visit of the Tall Ships Race in July 2005, which is expected to bring thousands of visitors to the region.

Discovery is currently displaying an exhibition of photographs from the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, which commemorates the last time the Tall Ships Race visited the Tyne in 1993.

At Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum the use of Roman ships and the possibility of a Roman shipwreck near the mouth of the Tyne will be examined in an exhibition running from June 27 until January 2006.

The fort is situated on the banks of the Tyne at Wallsend close to the Swan Hunter shipyard, where the record-breaking Mauretania and the Carpathia, which famously rescued survivors from the Titanic, were built.

Shows a photograph of the red and white striped Souter Lighthouse.

Souter Lighthouse. © Nick Dolan/ The National Trust.

Souter Lighthouse will be exploring the Undersea World (June 18-September 4) as a marquee is transformed to represent the murky depths including a display of full-size whales and dolphins.

Monsters of the Deep will be visiting the Museum of Hartlepool between July 2 and September 18 where visitors can come face to face with a prehistoric sea dragon and those with hearty dispositions can find out what was once found inside a shark’s stomach...

Shows a photograph of a shark with its mouth open.

Just one of the Monsters of the Deep ready to go on show at the Museum of Hartlepool. Courtesy Museum of Hartlepool.

SeaBritain 2005 North East is co-ordinated by the North East Regional Museums Hub, which is funded by Renaissance in the Regions, a Museums Libraries and Archives Council initiative to raise the profile of regional museums.

Other institutions taking part in SeaBritain 2005 North East include Berwick-upon-Tweed Borough Museum and Art Gallery, the Bowes Museum, the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum, the Hancock Museum, Laing Art Gallery, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens and The Mainguard (Berwick).

Shows the Renaissance in the Regions logo.

Alastair Smith is the 24 Hour Museum Renaissance Student Writer in the North East region. Renaissance is the groundbreaking initiative to transform England's regional museums, led by MLA, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

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