11 July 2017 Community News

A HUGE scale model of a British man-of-war ship will ‘sail’ into Sunderland today (11 July) – marking the start of a week-long programme of sea related activities.

The 1/10 scale model of 18th century gun ship HMS Venerable has been created by Sunderland Maritime Heritage group, set up to preserve the city’s shipbuilding heritage.

And it will also pay tribute to Sunderland navy hero, Jack Crawford, whose brave actions aboard the ship helped the British win the Battle of Camperdown in 1797.

The impressive reproduction will take up residence at the Bridges, to coincide with the official one year countdown to the start of the Tall Ships Races 2018.

The ship – which is large enough for people to walk around – will be in place from 11 -16 July, with a full programme of activities for people to enjoy.

This includes daily craft sessions between 11am and 2pm for youngsters to make sailors’ hats, wristbands and badges being sold to help support the group and daily ship tours by its creators.

On Saturday 15 July visitors to the Bridges will also be able to watch a re-enactment of the Battle of Camperdown, where Jack Crawford’s quick-thinking led to victory.

“We are delighted to begin the countdown to the Tall Ships Race by showcasing the incredible craftsmanship of Sunderland Maritime Heritage Group,” said Andy Bradley, Centre Director at the Bridges.

“This model of HMS Venerable is a truly magnificent reproduction and we are sure that everyone who sees it will be completely overwhelmed.”

Martin Dent, secretary of Sunderland Maritime Heritage group, said the project had taken ten years so far and would need another two years work to complete.

“The nature of projects like this is that only a few people can be involved,” he said.

“But we are very proud of HMS Venerable and all of the work that the Maritime Heritage Group does and we really believe we are one of Sunderland’s hidden jewels.

“Hopefully this tribute to one of our local heroes will showcase our work and the city’s important maritime history.”

During the 18th century battle against the Dutch, part of the Venerable’s mast was felled, including the admiral’s flag which was considered a sign of surrender.

Crawford climbed the mast and nailed the colours to the top, ensuring a win for the British.

His actions saw him not only receiving a victory parade in London but also becoming the first person in the country to receive a Government pension of £30 a year.

A statue of Crawford can be seen at Mowbray Park and his headstone is at Holy Trinity graveyard at Sunderland’s East End.