Young sea cadets reveal hidden stories

Life at sea revealed as part of Oral History project

A group of Sea Cadets from Hull have captured the everyday experiences of life in the Merchant Navy.

The stories generated from this intergenerational oral history project will be shown in a short film and will form part of the new displays within the refurbished Hull Maritime Museum.

This oral history programme is part of Hull Maritime, the locally led project funded by Hull City Council and The National Lottery Heritage Fund. It encompasses the redevelopment of five historic sites in Hull city centre: the transformation of the Grade II* Hull Maritime Museum and the Dock Office Chambers, the creation of a new visitor attraction at the North End Shipyard and the restoration two historic vessels, the Arctic Corsair and Spurn Lightship.

Young people from the Sea Cadets were in conversation with past and present seafarers to uncover many fascinating and hidden stories of what it is like to work at sea and be away from their families for long periods of time. Aspects of shipping covered includes coastal and long-distance trade, river pilotage, luxury yachts and tugs and salvage.

The sessions which took place at TS Iron Duke on Argyle Street in May brought old and young voices together empowering veterans to tell their stories in their own words, providing vital insight into their knowledge and encounters. Participants working at sea today added their experiences and illustrated the continuing role of Hull as a thriving port.

The Hull Sea Cadets is a self-supporting charity which offers young people a range of water and land-based activities and opportunities, all underpinned by a nautical ethos based on the customs of the Royal Navy. These activities prepare the Cadets for careers in the Royal Navy and the modern maritime industry.

Gillian Osgerby, Hull City Council’s Project Director for Hull Maritime, said: “This oral history project brought different generations, old and young together, sharing fascinating stories and personal experiences, and sparking memories that will be preserved and documented.

“The final films will go on display within the refurbished museum and will help preserve and honour the stories that are so important today and do justice to the vital role of the Merchant Navy in Hull and the UK, both past and present.”

David Renwick, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Hull Maritime in the recording of the important heritage of the port city through this intergenerational project with the Sea Cadets.

“Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players this exciting project will ensure that the voices and memories of the Merchant Navy veterans and other seafarers of Hull can be heard and celebrated for generations to come.”

Sally Green RNR, Commanding Officer – WO2 (SCC), Hull Sea Cadets, said: “Our Cadets have been inspired by meeting people who have made a living from the sea and it has been a great experience for them to participate in the Hull Maritime project.”

For more details on Hull Sea Cadets and how to join visit, email: or call 01482 226 746 Monday and Wednesday evenings.

A road in England at night with traffic cones and signage for roadworks
Aerial view of Hull. Taken from Google Earth