With a generous grant of nearly £25,000 from the Heritage Lottery ‘Young Roots’ scheme, this project brought together five organisations not ordinarily regarded as ‘partners’, to create an exciting and innovative project.
The project focused on four of the partners providing a broad range of maritime archaeology-related activities to a group of fourteen Sea Cadets, aged 12-20 years, based at Hartlepool on the North-East coast of England.
In addition to ultimately acquiring a broad range of new skills and experiences, each Cadet was working towards the award of an ASDAN qualification, itself a brand new pilot scheme being run for the first time in the ‘Dig, Dive & Discover’ Project.
The Project was launched on board the Napoleonic frigate ‘HMS Trincomalee’, with a full buffet, displays from each of the partners, tours of the ship and even a drum tattoo provided by the Sea Cadets Band on the quayside.
For the Cadets themselves, the project really began when they started scuba-diving training provided by Hartlepool Divers, the local Branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club. Even before this training had been completed, the Cadets were tasked with exploring and documenting the histories of twelve locally-built ships, through a series of maritime research sessions provided by Hartlepool Borough Council’s Reference Library Service.
Hard on the heels of the research sessions, the Cadets then attended a two-day combined Introduction/Part 1 Training Course run by the Nautical Archaeology Society North-East, followed a couple of weeks later by a five-day fieldschool to record a foreshore shipwreck site, putting into practice all the skills learned earlier.
Drawing all these strands together, the Cadets undertook a number of web-authoring and design sessions provided by Hartlepool PortCities, to create their own webpage hosted by the PortCities site
The Project finale centred on a very fine three-course meal and awards ceremony in the prestigious Sir William Gray Suite at ‘Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience’, attended by all those involved in the project, a number of local civic dignitaries, Naval officers and featuring, of course, the Cadets in their full-dress uniforms.
It must also be said that the project was very generously supported by a range of other organisations, including Tees Archaeology, Hartlepool Arts & Museums Service, the HMS Trincomalee Trust, and through various ‘in-kind’ contributions.
But perhaps the most important outcome of the Project is yet to be seen – in giving these young Cadets the opportunity to experience quite distinct, yet inextricably linked activities, a seed has been planted that maritime archaeology can be challenging, rewarding and yes, fun!