As part of our Edition one, Prosper North Community, Sunderland Maritime Heritage were also participants of the previous cohort looking to further explore how business support could impact and drive the mission of their organisation in Sunderland. Edition one ran from September 2019 to March 2020. This what Sunderland Maritime Heritage are all about.

Sunderland Maritime Heritage was inaugurated in 1999 primarily to raise awareness of the plight of the sailing clipper ship City of Adelaide which was under threat of demolition on the Clyde at Irvine, Glasgow. 

 The City of Adelaide was built at William Pile Shipyard on the Wear in 1764, and the intention of Sunderland Maritime Heritage was to save the ship and bring her home to Sunderland. 

Throughout the campaign, it became apparent there was a lack of recognition in Sunderland has for its shipbuilding and maritime heritage, and as a result Sunderland Maritime Heritage broadened its remit to champion the provision of a purpose-built interactive maritime heritage centre.  

 Though the shipyards are long gone, our Charity’s mission is to keep alive the heritage and legacy of shipbuilding on the Wear. Our declared aim is to continue our work, so future generations can sustain and continue our maritime heritage and we do this in a number of ways ensuring that we are a living history centre conserving the culture and history of your home town. 

 Our Heritage Centre includes: 

  • a unique collection of artefacts, including records of the ship designs which became the Liberty Ships of World War 2. As you will know these were made in huge numbers in the USA and by keeping the Atlantic supply lines open, arguably helped the Allies win the War. 
  • a Visitor Centre, which traces the history of Sunderland shipbuilding from the days of wooden ships, through steel ships, to the demise of shipbuilding on the Wear in the 1980’s. This Centre will shortly be enhanced by the opening of a new welcome area offering a welcoming a cup of tea or coffee and chat. 
  • a large workshop where we undertake practical projects of all shapes and sizes 

 Our main workshop activities at the moment are:

  1. The long term restoration and operation of our 1901 shallow draft trawler, Willdora, a Dunkirk Little Ship. We have restored the hull, fitted a new deck and wheelhouse and completely re-wired her. We are actively fitting out below decks with bunks, galley, heads, engine room etc.
  2. The construction of a 1/10th scale model, built to the original 18th century plans, of HMS Venerable a 74-gun Ship of the Line which was Admiral Duncan’s flagship at the Battle of Camperdown and on which local hero, Jack Crawford, served.  We currently generate a little funding by selling named copper plaques which are nailed to the bottom of the hull so that she appears copper-sheathed like the original.
  3. A boat building course which will result in a brand new Foy Coble. This is a fantastic opportunity for folk to improve their woodworking skills and understand the fundamentals of boat building. 

We do all of the above in a socially-inclusive way with visits by school children and work placements for college students (who are currently helping build the new welcome area). In addition, we provide activities and regular routine for those with learning difficulties and dementia.

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