Learn more about tall ship project

Blyth Tall Ship chief executive Clive Gray.
Blyth Tall Ship chief executive Clive Gray.

As part of the Spring Season celebrating the coast and seafaring heritage, visitors to Woodhorn Museum will have the opportunity to discover the fantastic but little-known story of William Smith, a carpenter’s son from Seaton Sluice.

A touring exhibition produced by Blyth Tall Ship tells the story of how on a trade voyage in 1818, having survived pirates and sailing through treacherous gales, Captain William Smith made the first recorded sighting of Antarctica – the islands now known as the Southern Shetland Islands.

Although he died in poverty unrecognised for his achievements, his story is remembered by the people of Blyth today.

Blyth Tall Ship is a pioneering charity inspiring a community to regenerate from within by recapturing the spirit of adventure and global entrepreneurship employed by Captain Smith.

Its chief executive, Clive Gray, is leading a new expedition to Antarctica to celebrate the unsung hero and provide life-changing experiences for the 200 people on the voyage.

The expedition will also showcase the North East’s talent in engineering and technology on a world stage by working with businesses and Newcastle University in putting the expedition equipment together on a 100-year-old wooden ship and undertaking meaningful marine science.

The exhibition runs until May 7 and visitors will have the opportunity to hear about the project first-hand on Wednesday, March 7 from 2pm when Mr Gray will give a talk.

His presentation will feature many aspects of the project, including the story of William Smith and the setting up of a new museum and cataloguing of documents from Blyth’s rich maritime history.

He will talk about the restoration of a ship like the Brig Williams and building a modern replica of an offshore fishing vessel in almost the same location as the original boat was built. 

Places at the talk are free to Woodhorn members, but need to be reserved in advance to avoid disappointment. Call 01670 624458 or 01670 624455.