The tall ships in Sunderland


In all this month’s running about I did manage an afternoon at the tall ships in Sunderland – helpfully arranged for a weekend when I had to be in Newcastle anyway, although sadly I was busy at the time of the parade of sail.

I’m never quite sure if this counts as an Age of Sail experience or not – so many of the ships are so new, in design as well as build – but it is nice to see a harbour full of masts.

Wear bridges

I was pleased to see that some of my old friends were there. Sørlandet was built in the 1920s, and is made of steel – but she’s beautiful, and apparently the oldest full-rigged ship still sailing. Plus I’ve still got a soft spot for anything Norwegian – I first met her in the southern part of Norway which she’s named after.


Shtandart is something quite different from most of the other ships around, a replica of a Russian frigate from 1703 with the modern engines and so on kept well out of sight. I really lost my heart to her when she was the only ship making any attempt to *sail* in the parade of sail at Kristiansand, but she’d already been putting on a good show before that.


And I always seem to end up taking a picture of Alexander von Humboldt, because of the beautiful green sails – but it’s an Age of Sail name, too. (There was also a small ship called Captain Cook, but I didn’t manage to get a good photo of that.)

Alexander von Humboldt

It’s always interesting as well to get to wander about parts of a harbour that you usually don’t – I got much closer to this old building than I did when I was walking the coast, although I’m still not sure what it was used for.

Old harbour building

The local museum was running an Age of Sail exhibition to tie in with the visit of the ships, so I went up there – although advertised as Nelson and Collingwood there was a bit more of a Nelson focus than I expected in the north-east, but then in a place that has always been in competition with Newcastle that’s maybe not surprising at all!

Museum exhibition

The star of the show was the famous Nelson portrait, borrowed from London – they also had the Collingwood portrait from the Discovery Museum, and some quite impressive paintings of the battle. Apart from that there was less than I was expecting – local reports, and the silver kettle presented to Collingwood by the Corporation of Newcastle – but it was all interesting to see.

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