Nautical Heritage Association

THE AGM of the Nautical Heritage Association was held on Saturday, April 27, to a packed gathering of members at the Hastings History House.

The chairman Andre Palfrey-Martin was pleased to report that it has been an busy and interesting year. We have continued to meet our educational remit, and this year had seen the introduction of the Primary Schools Project Bursary, which in its first year had been awarded to Brede Valley Primary School, for its work on the maritime history of the Rye Bay area.

Both he and David Renno had spent a very rewarding morning at the school last December, when the pupils presented their investigation and were presented with our cheque for £250.

A similar bursary has been announced for this year, and all the schools in the Cinque Ports area had been advised, and we await applications in the coming weeks. The committee had also agreed that we should extend the scheme to include museums, and those falling within this area have been advised that small educational grants can be applied for to link in with any maritime projects that their educational departments are currently developing.

The treasurer, Robin Witheridge, was pleased to report that the association was in a good financial position, and this would enable us to continue with our educational grants for several years to come. Under the difficult financial times that we are all finding at present, it was good to see that our membership was holding well, but that we must not be complacent and look to increasing this over the coming year. The accounts were agreed.

To this, questions from the floor, added that, as an association we had a great deal of technical and historical knowledge related to nautical and maritime matters, and could this not be put to better use, and help to get new members. It was agreed that the committee would look into this for future plans.

The members had a very successful visit to Bletchley Park, home of the code-breakers of the Second World War and linked with Hastings through the good works of Alan Turing. Also several members had attended the Sussex Military Historical Society Newhaven Fort Charity Day.

Similar activities were planned for the coming year, with a visit to Greenwich and The Cutty Sark in May. Last September, like many places in the world we held a very interesting evening with Barry Littlejohn, whose grandfather and local publican was one of the crew that sailed with the White Star Liner – Titanic on that fateful voyage, he was one of the lucky ones and returned to tell his story.

The committee was re-elected on bloc, with the exception of Robin Witheridge who after many years as treasurer, has stood down, and passed the role to Adrian Barak. The chairman thanked him for his services, and to Janet, his wife, for her support over the years, both will still be members of the associations, which was welcomed.

After a short break for refreshments, members were delighted to be given a wonderfully illustrated presentation by Adrian Barak, Robin and Janet Witheridge on their early morning visit to the wreak of the HMS Anne at Pett, which because of the extremely low tides at present, allowed for a much better view of the remains of this Restoration Warship from the days of Pepys and King Charles. The ship was destroyed after the battle of Beachy Head in July 1670, when the captain – John Tyrrell order the ship to be destroyed by fire and it was beached at Pett Level.

Anybody interested in joining this association should contact the chairman on nautical.heritage.association@gmail.com.