It′s ′Ship Ahoy′ for Local Water Company



A unique partnership between a local water company and a tall ship project is to ‘set sail’.

The Blyth Tall Ship Project will recreate William Smith’s voyage in 1819. The discoverer, who was born in Seaton Sluice, discovered the Antarctica landmass in a ship built in Blyth.

In 2019, to celebrate the 200th anniversary year of this incredible discovery, a replica ship, the Williams II, which is being refitted in almost the same location that William Smith’s ship was built, will set sail to Antarctica.
Northumbrian Water has joined the Blyth Tall Ship Project crew. The water company’s sponsorship includes £40,000 of financial support, working in partnership with schools and others to develop scientific experiments and support through its employee volunteering programme.

The Blyth Tall Ship Project gives young people, aged between 16 and 28, skills to help them gain employment. It showcases the engineering and technological potential of the North East and works in partnership with different organisations and educational institutions to develop and conduct scientific experiments.

The project also works with people over 28 who are unemployed, would like to retrain or who volunteer.
More than 200 crew will be trained by the Blyth Tall Ship Project and have the opportunity to sail the Williams II on various legs of the expedition. They will sail around Britain between May and July 2019, reach Antarctica by January 2020 and arrive back in Blyth in July 2020.

Chris Jones, Northumbrian Water’s Research and Development manager, said: "Being involved in this project is a great example of Northumbrian Water’s commitment to helping local communities, and the region as a whole, grow and thrive. Helping young people gain the skills they need to get into work is a big part of this. We work with 9,000 young people every year and this partnership will certainly strengthen our activity in this area. Encouraging the next generation to develop skills in engineering is vital for so many businesses, including the water industry.

"We are very excited about working with schools to develop scientific experiments, which will be carried out on board the Williams II, to investigate water quality and ways to protect the environment. This is an incredible opportunity for both us and the schools. Northumbrian Water works hard to protect bathing water quality and a range of partnerships helps us to be more innovative and creative in how we protect the environment."

The Blyth Tall Ship Project and Northumbrian Water will let schools know how they can get involved next year.
Clive Gray, Blyth Tall Ship Project’s Chief Executive, said: "It is fantastic to have Northumbrian Water’s support as they are a company who really care about the communities they serve and looking after the environment. This project is something that Blyth can be so proud of as ship building is such an important part of its heritage.

"My main aim is to inspire young people to take control of their lives through learning and working hard. We would really like more businesses and organisations to get involved. Partnership working enables the sharing of skills, knowledge and experience and will definitely benefit both the project and all involved.

"This is not an expedition for the faint hearted though! Becoming part of the crew who will sail to Antarctica will be based being able to demonstrate competent sail skills, robustness of character to face the toughest seas in a 100-year-old ship. I have no doubt that we will find and train some superb sailors."

Recruitment for the Williams II expedition will begin in early 2018.

The Blyth Tall Ship Project was founded by Clive in 2010 and has, so far, seen 200 young people gain skills, experience and confidence. 30% of these young people have found employment. 40% have gone on to do further education.





For further information contact Cara Charlton on 0191 301 6720, 07764 926 728 or

Notes to editors:


  1. Clive Gray, who is 52, was born in Leicester, grew up in Birmingham and now lives in Whittingham near Alnwick. He commanded 4th Assault Squadron Royal Marines and was an Arctic warfare specialist in his early twenties and then went on to hold senior leadership positions in international businesses.

  2. Northumbrian Water Group supplies water and wastewater services to 2.7 million customers in the North East, trading as Northumbrian Water, and water services to 1.8 million people in Essex and Suffolk, trading as Essex & Suffolk Water.

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