How Blyth’s Maritime Heritage is Inspiring the Next Generation

In our latest #RUKGOW19 blog, Lorna Bennet, Mechanical Engineer at ORE Catapult, looks at the impact that offshore wind can have on communities, including ORE Catapult's support of the Blyth Tall Ship, which will be coming to Global Offshore Wind 2019 next month. Register for GOW19 here.

Lorna Bennet, Mechanical Engineer at ORE Catapult

The UK’s offshore wind industry is growing rapidly and creating new opportunities in communities across the country, especially in clusters of offshore wind expertise that are typically in areas with the greatest need for development.


At ORE Catapult, we’re proud of our contribution to developing the offshore wind industry throughout the UK and working closely with local communities around our facilities. In the North East, our world-leading facilities in Blyth are testing the largest offshore wind turbine in the world and we’re working with local institutions to build up the skills that will continue to push the industry forward. Through a STEM Hub, we’ve worked with local partners to support hundreds of young people, teachers at a dozen schools and scores of businesses to deliver STEM activities in Blyth.


Blyth holds a special place in the history of the offshore wind industry as it was home to the first offshore wind turbines in the UK, inaugurated nearly 20 years ago. This small but important port in Northumberland has a long history of world firsts and, through a very special project, we’re combining heritage and high-tech to help train the next generation of innovators.


The Blyth Tall Ship project is a social enterprise inspired by Captain William Smith, who built a merchant ship in Blyth and discovered the first land in Antarctic in 1819. Over the last 10 years the project has built a fantastic reputation in supporting unemployed and untrained local people and bringing them through NVQ level 1, 2 and 3 marine engineering courses – with 50% going on to gain employment and 40% taking up further education.

Blyth Tall Ship near Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA

ORE Catapult, along with the Port of Blyth and others, support this project and its mission to teach maritime and engineering skills through traditional boat-building aboard this 100 year old wind-powered Tall Ship. The training offers a mix of traditional and modern skills, but importantly fosters a mindset and attitude about working that is critical for industries like offshore wind. The Blyth Tall Ship is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica by sailing around the UK with 10 different crews, many of whom were trainees and apprentices, as well as offering on-board team building and crew courses for the offshore wind sector’s future workforce.


And as part of the circumnavigation of the UK, the Williams II will be coming to meet the offshore wind industry as it sails down to London and up the Thames for Global Offshore Wind 2019. You will be able to track this incredible voyage on the Tall Ship website and there will be opportunities to speak to the crew and visit the ship when it docks just outside the exhibition during the GOW19. This is a fantastic opportunity for the wider industry to get involved with this amazing initiative, training the next generation of our workforce.


As the industry gears up for 2030 and employment in the sector more than doubles to over 27,000, we will need more and more well-trained young workers across the UK. The Blyth Tall Ship is an inspiring and imaginative programme that trains and supports young people, helping them to create new opportunities for their future by using our maritime industrial heritage and to boost the growth of a cutting-edge industry like offshore wind.


Please come and say hello to the Blyth Tall Ship team during Global Offshore Wind to learn more about the history and future plans for this incredible vessel, meet the volunteers and learn about opportunities for to work together.



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