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7th September 2020

Blaydes Maritime Centre (BMC) is a University of Hull research centre with a mission to understand and explain the interaction between human societies and the marine environment, past, present and future. The centre is based in the grade II listed Blaydes House on High Street, Hull, which was the eighteenth-century home and business premises of the Blaydes merchant family.

In this blog Dr Jo Byrne, research fellow at BMC, tells us about how students and staff at the University of Hull have worked with the Hull: Yorkshire’s Maritime City (HYMC) team on an exciting project which links historical maritime research with learning in schools.

Located adjacent to the River Hull, Blaydes House served as a home, a business premises and an advertisement of the family’s success – it was designed to impress! © Jo Byrne, University of Hull

"Since January, we have been working with HYMC and Heritage Learning to develop activities for schools informed by the knowledge, research and resources that we hold at Blaydes Maritime Centre. Our Blaydes House Gangway Project focuses on the Blaydes family and the maritime world of eighteenth-century Hull. Exploring the house and the family is a perfect way to bring to life topics such as trade, shipbuilding, civic life and even architecture.

As a first step, our team of staff and student interns collected together new and existing material relating to the family’s activities. We now have a fantastic resource of documents, photographs and even shipping adverts that can be used to support learning sessions, as well as to expand our own understanding of the Blaydes’ story.

Our knowledge and material is being used by HYMC to produce a new outreach workshop for primary schools which focuses on the development of Hull’s docks. We are also going to be adding some new content to the Hull Curriculum, including exciting virtual tours of Blaydes House. However, once COVID-19 restrictions have eased, we would also love to invite schools in to visit Blaydes House, where they can see for themselves this beautiful example of a Hull merchant’s property and get a unique insight into an important piece of our city’s maritime history.

We are really excited to be working with HYMC and Heritage Learning to bring our knowledge into local schools. It has been a great experience and we look forward to new maritime learning ventures in the future."

A further aim of the Gangway Project is to highlight the transferable skills gained by studying history at university level. The ability to investigate, analyse, organise and communicate is valued in many careers, not just those within the heritage sector. Here, our student interns reflect upon their own contributions and experiences, as historians working on a heritage learning project.

Sam Wright (postgraduate student intern)

"I really enjoyed learning about the past at school, so it was an easy choice for me to continue studying history at university. I chose maritime history because I have always been fascinated by ships and the sea. I developed a range of skills studying history at the University of Hull, many of which have been useful for the Gangway project. In particular, skills in archival source analysis have helped me to investigate documents, helping to build up a bigger picture of the Blaydes family."

Sam Wright, postgraduate intern

Laura Dean (undergraduate student intern)

"The project has involved a lot of new experiences for me and I was worried I would be completely out of my depth. That hasn’t been the case, and I now feel a lot more confident. The early stages involved reading through books and scanning through documents, which I know well from studying at university. But it was rewarding in an unexpected way, as we were finding out facts and piecing things together in a way that felt like we were making a real contribution, which isn’t a feeling you get when just studying."

Laura Dean, undergraduate student intern)

Alice MacPhail (undergraduate student intern)

"After the research element we began to collate information into sections that would be more efficient to teach. I’ve never had the opportunity to dedicate a large amount of time to locating and collating data for a project. It has been challenging to adjust to entirely independent learning and to hold ourselves accountable. However I believe we have all done this successfully and I am very proud of the content we have delivered."

Alice MacPhail, undergraduate student intern

Rebecca Kelly (undergraduate student intern)

"Studying history has enabled me to develop key skills in written communication, time management and has also boosted my confidence. The project has given me insight into organisational cooperation, as we worked to complete briefs set by HYMC to produce educational resources to be used by local schools. Sitting in a museum learning session was a great part of this internship, as it was good to see how history can be used to inspire young learners."

Rebecca Kelly, undergraduate student intern

HYMC will be sharing the Gangway Project’s exciting discoveries with pupils and teachers through new outreach sessions and virtual resources from the autumn.

The Blaydes House Gangway Project is funded by the Ferens Education Trust and the Maritime History Trust.

Our thanks go to them for sending us their contributions.