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Shipshape and Bristol Fashion! The Matthew celebrates 525 years via collaboration with students

Last year, to celebrate the present-day Matthew’s 25th anniversary and the 525th anniversary of John Cabot’s daring voyage across the Atlantic on the original Matthew in 1497, The Matthew of Bristol Trust set sail on a year-long project to enhance the educational direction of the ship and the Trust.

Last month, The Matthew of Bristol trust revealed the outcomes of this project, unveiling a cross-curricular learning resource that explores the history and associated stories with both the original and modern-day ships.

The learning resource is accompanied by a 30-minute documentary created by filmmaker, Grace Fox, that follows the story of the modern Matthew, narrated by broadcaster and journalist, Sally Challoner.

As part of the project, media students from City of Bristol College collected memories from The Matthew volunteers, trustees, shipwrights, crew and others to gain insights and a fresh perspective surrounding the ship and their extensive connections to it.

The Matthew 525 Project is a truly local collaboration. The Matthew of Bristol Trust, in association with Historic England’s Heritage Schools initiative, worked closely with Ruth Myers and Pete Insole of Myers-Insole Local Learning CIC as well as Historian Clive Burlton of Bristol Books CIC. Our students and staff from the college also played a key part in producing the fascinating online educational resource aimed at Years 7–9.

Level 3 Fashion students provided insights to build a section that explores Tudor fashion and medieval seafaring costumes, bringing them to life through detailed sketches.

Ruth commented on being incredibly impressed by the student’s offerings, as they delivered work that exceeded expectations whilst thinking outside of the box.

Level 2 Media students also attended an event at The Watershed, speaking to people who have a personal connection to The Matthew. Here, they conducted interviews, asking varying explorative questions.

The answers were then recorded and edited; the extracts can be found as part of the learning resource. Shipwrights, volunteers and trustees were interviewed along with the former Lord Mayor and Chairman of The Matthew of Bristol Trust.

We would like to give thanks to Terry Baxter, Mark Boulton, Roger Buxton, Colin Coombs, Roni Edwards, Royston Griffey, Sonia Hinam, Ann May, Warwick Moreton, Mary North, Ray Pike, Mary Regan, Jane Rowecroft and Steve Williams for sharing their memories and insights about The Matthew with City of Bristol College media students; Luigi Capasso, Theo Hocking, Alisa Mahmout, Isobel Mclauchlan, Schaeffer Mclean and Will Read.

This was just the beginning with further work being completed by our Graphic Design, Art and Design, and Engineering students.

The learning resource was unveiled and celebrated by a visit to the college and presentation from Clive Burlton and Ruth Myers.

During the presentation, Ruth Myers – Project Manager of Myers-Insole Local Learning CIC said: “It was a really rewarding experience, we’d happily do lots of work across Bristol and take this opportunity again and we would love to involve students again.

“All of the ideas and conversations that we had with the students really helped to shape this, it would have been a very different type of resource had we not had this kind of input from people here and across other departments.”

Clive Burlton –  Historian of Bristol Books CIC and Author of The Matthew of Bristol commented: “It was a project in two parts really, the learning resources were predominantly Ruth’s domain and I was working on a year in the life of Matthew which became 2 years in the life of Matthew due to Covid.

“We used a film editor to follow various modern aspects of the present-day ship. But I was also able to dip into archive footage from 25 years ago when the ship was originally built; so, we put together this documentary.”

Speaking of the experience, Level 2 Media student, Shaffer McLean, said: “When Ruth came into our class and was talking about the project, I put my hand up and said that I was happy to volunteer and do it because it sounded really interesting.

“I think my experience was really positive to be honest, I think it really pushed me to see what I want to do within media because before that I didn’t really have an interest in sound so it was really a good experience and to be able to talk with those people and hear their stories – it was really fun. It was really nice to have someone to talk to and to interview someone that has something to say.”

We are incredibly proud of the successful working partnership between our college and local organisations and charities. To view the learning resource in all of its glory, click here.

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