The Tall Ships Races 2018 will soon be coming to Sunderland, but this great event will be just the latest chapter in the north east’s long history of seafaring.

This half-term, the region’s residents will have the chance to learn more about this important aspect of the north east’s heritage at an exhibition in Washington.

The exhibition will be put on by Durham County Record Office as part of The Tall Ships Races 2018 programme.

The exhibition will be centred around a map drawn up for the River Wear Commissioners in 1819, at a time when shipping was a vital component of the local industrial scene.

Before the coming of the railways, ships were the main means of transporting coal from the north east’s rapidly growing mining industry.

The exhibition will include a display focusing on the area around Biddick Ford and children will get to make and decorate paper boats.

Durham County Record Office’s education and outreach archivist, Dawn Layland, said, “This is a fantastic opportunity for people to discover more about the region’s rich shipping heritage while the craft activities mean the whole family can get involved.”

The exhibition can be viewed at the Galleries Shopping Centre from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm on Tuesday 29th May, at Washington Library from 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm on Wednesday 30th May, and at Washington Millennium Centre between 9.00 am and 12.00 noon on Thursday 31st May.

To book a place at one of the above sessions, please telephone 03000 267 262. For more information, please visit

The display and craft sessions are being run by Durham County Record Office in partnership with Sunderland City Council’s Washington Area Committee.

The Tall Ships Races 2018 will come to Sunderland from Wednesday 11th July to Saturday 14th July. An extensive programme of events and entertainment has been planned to welcome the ships to the city.

(The featured image is from T.H Hair’s Sketches of the Coal Mines in Northumberland and Durham, 1839.)

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