Ahoy me hearties...
ngland is awash with maritime heritage and 2012 sees all sorts of launches, openings, spectacular exhibitions and gripping yarns for you to unravel. Here’s a glimpse of what’s on offer.
Reopening of the Cutty Sark
Climb on board the Cutty Sark and take in 142 years of history in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. This majestic clipper has faced some serious challenges, both at sea and on dry land, but it’s just been re-opened after an extensive restoration project and looks better than ever before. The ship’s vertigo-inducing broad sails have carried her through the world’s oceans, and you can step into the history of those voyages, the ship’s construction, and its careful conservation since it finally came to rest in Greenwich. You’ll learn about the story behind her name and stand suitably awestruck directly beneath her glowing copper-encrusted hull.
Spirit of the Sea, Weymouth & Portland Maritime Festival
The waters of Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour will be home to all the Olympic sailing events, but the nautical events don’t stop there. 2012 also sees the fifth ‘ Spirit of the Sea ’, Weymouth & Portland Maritime Festival taking place from 30 June to 15 July. Celebrating Dorset’s close-knit relationship with the sea, it brings together a range of sports, cultural events and entertainment including the Moving Tides Carnival procession, which sees a swarm of people dressed as exotic sea creatures dancing their way to Weymouth Beach. The festival also raises a glass to the ocean’s many tasty treasures with celebrity chefs, fisherman, and local restaurants getting together to celebrate all things fishy at the Dorset Seafood Festival.
The Mary Rose, Portsmouth
A favourite of Henry VIII, The Mary Rose perches proudly in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard. Constructed between 1509 and 1511, it was one of the first war ships able to fire broadside. The ship’s hull will have a grand reopening at the end of 2012 with the addition of a brand new museum, which will house galleries that run the entire length of the ship. Above board, precious artefacts will be carefully placed by architect and maritime archaeologist Chris Brandon, so you’ll able to experience what the decks would have looked like moments before the ship sank.
100 years after the Titanic sank, revisit the haunting tale of the world’s most famous shipwreck in a series of exhibitions held throughout the country. Greenwich’s National Maritime Museum leads visitors through the accounts of some of the survivors (until 30 September), while Liverpool’s Merseyside Museum explores the city’s extensive links with the ship, its crew and passengers (until 21 April 2013). The Titanic sailed from Southampton and, as you might expect, Southampton has plenty to say on the matter. Its brand new Sea City museum has just opened, examining the world’s fascination with the Titanic story. Even land-locked Stoke-On-Trent is getting in on the action. The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery is hosting a Titanic Trail , which includes information on local man Edward John Smith, captain of the doomed vessel.