Children have been learning about their maritime heritage as part of a project which culminated in a special event.
Year 4 pupils at Cullercoats Primary School and Coquet Park First School, in Whitley Bay, spent five weeks investigating the history and fishing heritage of Cullercoats.
Working with experts at Newcastle University’s Dove Marine Laboratory, they learned about topics such as traditional fishing methods, the distinctive wooden coble boat and the buildings built to support the fishing industry in the village.
The schoolchildren also spoke to retired fishermen and learned traditional skills, such as how to make a lobster pot, and even gutted and salted their own herrings.
A celebration event for their families and the local community saw the children create a model of Cullercoats harbour, complete with local landmarks such as Simpson Street, and sing a sea shanty they wrote themselves with the help of traditional music expert Ian McKone.
Annie Russell, marine education officer, Newcastle University, said: “This project has brought history and science together and given the children a different way to learn about the historic and marine environment where they live.
“Some children realised they’ve got fishing connections in their own families.”
Aled Jones, teacher at Cullercoats Primary School, added: “The children loved the hands-on nature of the sessions and have learned so much about the history of Cullercoats; it’s made them feel part of the community.”
He added: “The project has changed what they think about where they live as they’ve been able to use what they’ve learned as they go around the village.”
Year 4 pupil at Coquet Park First School, Jasmine, said: “I had an amazing time at the Dove Marine. My favourite part was gutting the fish as that was something that I had never done in my life! I also loved sketching the houses and boats from the olden days.”
Fellow pupil Thomas, also eight, added: “I loved going to the Dove Marine especially when we had to gut a fish! I really enjoyed writing and singing a sea shanty.”
The project was funded by Historic England, as part of its Heritage Schools project, which gives schoolchildren a range of opportunities to learn about the history of the area where they live.
Once the project is complete, the schools will be awarded Heritage School status and will develop their own ongoing programme to integrate what the children have learned with the wider curriculum.
Viki Angel, local heritage education manager, Historic England, said: “The children have really enjoyed exploring the history on their doorstep.
“The practical sessions bring the history of the local area alive for them helping them learn more about how Cullercoats has changed over time so that they can be proud of where they live.”