The exhibition Boats that Built Britain was held at the National Maritime Museum in 2010, exploring our nation’s intimate connection to the sea. 

This exhibition is now closed

The exhibition Boats that Built Britain was held at the National Maritime Museum in summer 2010.

Exploring Britain's relationship with the sea

This exhibition and lecture series at the National Maritime Museum explored our island nation’s intimate connection to the sea through great maritime stories from the 15th to 20th centuries. It focused on the histories of key vessels from our voyages of discovery, the Royal Navy, the golden age of sail, the growth of shipping and industry and the pivotal impact of the sea on the outcome of the Second World War. 

Held alongside a major BBC Four series

Boats that Built Britain was staged in partnership with National Historic Ships, and ran alongside a major BBC Four series of the same name presented by Tom Cunliffe.

Based around the themes explored in the BBC series, and drawing upon the NMM's collection, the exhibition featured selected clips from the Boats that Built Britain television programme as well as archive and contemporary photographs of the vessels featured, and stories from the lives of those that have sailed in them. The lecture series, along with a number of special family events, ran throughout June and July 2010. 

Exhibition highlights

The centrepiece of the exhibition was a fully sized replica of an early 20th-century pilot's punt built by Kent boat builder Marc Chivers. These small craft, specially designed to cope with rough British weather, were used to transfer local pilots to the ships they were to guide into harbour and played a vital role in our rapidly developing shipping industry.

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