, 52 tweets, 29 min read
My Authors
Read all threads
1/20 Good afternoon. I’m Antony Firth and I’m going to tweet about ‘Steel on the Seabed’. I’ll be referencing work with @HistoricEngland @HE_Maritime @honor_frost @SouterNT @HeritageFundNE @citizan @IoSIFCA @tynetotees @ukchp. Many thanks to all & to organisers of #SWOS20! Image
2/20 By ‘Steel on the Seabed’ I mean #shipwrecks from the period c. 1850-1950 – a period of numerous radical transformations in ships but also in the communities whose lives they touched. These historic steel artefacts within the marine environment still reverberate. #SWOS20
3/20 In 1832 before most were even built, Lyell surmised ‘It is probable that a greater number of monuments of the skill and industry of man [sic] will be collected together in the bed of the ocean than will exist at any other time on the surface of the continents’. #SWOS20 Image
4/20 Ships are themselves social worlds of steel for the people who live, work and travel aboard. Plates, decks, boilers, engines and machinery are all shaped in steel to frame these floating worlds. #SWOS20 Image
5/20 Beyond their hulls, steel ships shaped the social worlds of shipbuilders, dock workers, merchants, passengers & their communities at scales from local to global. Ships were also central to the supply of ore & coal, and to the delivery of manufactured steel products. #SWOS20 Image
6/20 The fabrication and use of steel ships embodies so many lives: but the existence of most ships is fleeting. Their steel being eminently recyclable means that successful ships ended their careers in breakers’ yards. #SWOS20 Image
7/20 Our built environment contains numerous reminders of industrial and transport heritage. But – with few exceptions – historic ships are absent from today’s ports and coasts. Although central to the history of many UK communities, cargo steamships now seem extinct. #SWOS20 Image
8/20 But I’m going to argue that steel ships still form part of our historic landscapes and seascapes, if only we look beneath the surface. Thousands of ships were ‘saved’ from the breaker’s yard by the catastrophe of sinking. #SWOS20 Image
9/20 Steel shipwrecks resonate as facets of UK maritime and industrial heritage, if we choose to make them chime. Fortunately, numerous radical transformations in our own age are enabling us to rediscover, visualise and understand this long-hidden heritage. #SWOS20 Image
10/20 Digital surveys, digitisation of collections and digital citizen science are turning underwater scrapyards back into meaningful places. Technologies are pushing us towards a national collection of extraordinary breadth and importance, if we want it. #SWOS20 Image
11/20 Steel shipwrecks are a vital component of the heritage of so many UK communities. They offer a fascinating – and creative – point of entry for the public in rediscovering unseen aspects of UK history, and present numerous avenues for research. #SWOS20 Image
12/20 C19th & C20th shipwrecks tend to be viewed through the prism of warfare – with good reason: #WWI & #WWII had important maritime dimensions & caused massive spikes in shipping losses. But the history of ships sunk in wartime is not limited to the history of war. #SWOS20 Image
13/20 The brutal attrition of lives and tonnage enables insight too. Mines, torpedoes and shells sliced through steel but also cut a section through the history of mid-C19th to mid-C20th shipping. #SWOS20 Image
14/20 The same is true of people whose lives were taken while serving aboard. Firemen Said & Hamid – buried in a Whitby churchyard – remind us of the global character of the mercantile marine and the largely forgotten story of Black and Asian seafarers in the UK. #SWOS20 Image
15/20 Steel lying on the seabed continues to embody the labour of shipbuilding communities especially on the Clyde and in the North East, including women who joined the workforce in wartime to carry out skilled and heavy marine engineering. #SWOS20 Image
16/20 There is a direct relationship between the expulsion of women from marine engineering at the end of #WWI and the formation of the Women’s Engineering Society in 1919 @WES1919 #INWED20 #ShapeTheWorld. #SWOS20 Image
17/20 The landscape was also shaped by steel through women’s contribution to shipbuilding in other ways: Haverton Hill emergency shipyard on #Teesside was constructed in 1918-19 by women workers. The slips and basins they dug are still in use. #SWOS20 Image
18/20 Today, steel shipwrecks continue to shape the marine environment and the livelihoods that depend upon it. As inadvertent artificial reefs, shipwrecks provide habitats that are important for nature conservation, sea angling, recreational diving & commercial fishing. #SWOS20 Image
19/20 Shipwrecks can also be navigational hazards, sources of pollution & last resting places of many who have ‘no grave but the sea’. We often fail to deal with these monuments in ways that recognise the multiple dimensions of their past and present. #SWOS20 Image
20/20 The ships that lie around UK shores – through their misfortune and our good luck – are a vital component of our industrial and maritime historic environment. Next time you look out from the coast, have a thought for the steel on the seabed. Thank you! #SWOS20 Image
Here's the pic - should've resized beforehand! #SWOS20 Image
3a Charles Lyell, 1832, Principles of Geography p. 244 archive.org/details/Lyell1…. #SWOS20
7a There are many wonderful vessels in @NatHistShips’ registers but preservation has been necessarily selective, rather than representative. nationalhistoricships.org.uk/the-registers/…. #SWOS20
Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh.

Keep Current with Fjordr

Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!