Maritime Humanities Hub with Newcastle University

A project with Newcastle University exploring the story of Newcastle's history as a port city.

Maritime Humanities Hub with Newcastle University

Starboard bow view of SS Trojan Prince, John Readhead's & Sons,1896
Starboard bow view of SS Trojan Prince, John Readhead's & Sons,1896

This was a joint project in the spring and summer of 2020 between the Maritime Humanities Hub at Newcastle University and Tyne & Wear Archives. The Hub is the brainchild of Professor Stella Ghervas (Professor of Russian History at Newcastle University). Tyne & Wear Archives hold extensive records of Newcastle's relationship with the sea and has a Shipbuilding archives collection which is recognised on the UNESCO Memory of the World.

Tyne & Wear Archives hosted two project interns from the Maritime Humanities Hub (Sam J. Bailey and Megan ‘Quinn’ Clark) for four months to explore the extensive Maritime and shipbuilding records in the collections. The project was originally planned to include extensive work with original archives including listing, digitising and data entry. However due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown the project had to be refocused to concentrate on research which could be carried out without access to original archives and digital engagement outcomes.

Who’s who?

1. The Maritime Humanities Hub 

is a pilot project at the University of Newcastle which tells the story of Newcastle's history as a port city. The brainchild of Professor Stella Ghervas (Professor of Russian History at Newcastle University) from the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, the Maritime Humanities Hub Project is working with key partners in developing high-engagement outputs concerning maritime history, particularly ships built or sailed on the Tyne. As the project expands, it will build upon existing knowledge in shipbuilding and maritime history. The project will also cooperate with other fields, such as archaeology, literature, engineering, geography and politics.

For more information about this project please contact Professor Stella Ghervas, and follow us at @MaritimeNCL.

2. Interns

Sam J. Bailey is a department-funded English Literature MLitt researcher specialising in 18th century poetry, and Megan 'Quinn' Clark is an award-winning writer, poet and MA English Literature researcher specialising in contemporary popular and independently/digitally published literature. Together, using resources from the Discovery Museum's maritime archive, they have created digital maps, blogs and podcasts detailing the voyages of Tyne-built ships from 1880 to 1910.

3. Professor Stella Ghervas

Professor of Russian History at Newcastle University. Professor Ghervas works on Russia’s intellectual and maritime history and in the intellectual and international history of modern Europe, with special reference to the history of peace and peace-making. She has taught intellectual history, cultural and political history, and international relations at the University of Geneva, the University of Chicago, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Harvard University. She joined Newcastle University in May 2018 as Professor of Russian History.

4. Tyne & Wear Archives

Based in Discovery Museum in the heart of Newcastle, Tyne & Wear Archives is home to thousands of documents, housed on 12 miles of shelving, relating to the five local districts of Newcastle, Sunderland, Gateshead, North Tyneside and South Tyneside. The documents range from the 12th to 21st centuries and include building plans, school, hospital and church records as well as business records, especially those of important local industries such as shipbuilding, engineering and mining. The Tyne & Wear Shipyards Collection is of international significance as it is included on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

5. Newcastle University Humanities Research Institute

The Humanities Research Institute generates and supports an innovative range of collaborate projects and develops partnerships with organisations outside the university. The Institute has funded the two intern placements on this project and supported the project partners with delivery.

Outcomes of the project

Sam and Megan worked, supported by Professor Ghervas and staff from Tyne & Wear Archives researched the history of shipbuilding and the ships built on the Tyne. In particular they concentrated on The Trojan Prince (launched 1896) and the Yermack (launched 1898).

They produced the following outputs which will be published in the coming weeks:

  • A profile of the Trojan Prince ship
  • A blog on the The Yermack and Polar Exploration (available November)
  • A blog on Ghost ships and the Trojan Prince (available late October)
  • A Glossary of shipbuilding and shipping terms useful for anyone interested in researching ships.
  • A guide to researching ships built on the Tyne & Wear.
  • An updated user guide of the holdings of Tyne & Wear Archives
  • Short talks on the history of the Trojan Prince and the Yermack available which will be available on Soundcloud (late October/early November).

The project also produced a pilot of an Interactive map available at

This map, charting a year in the voyages of the Victorian ocean liner Trojan Prince, is a pilot project which uses the VisualEyes platform developed by the University of Virginia to demonstrate how geographic information technologies can produce novel and interesting representations of the past. The map was built from information collected in archives and constructed over the course of six weeks, as an experimental, prototype project, it will be used to demonstrate what future projects on the mapping of maritime history could look like.