Inspiration Exploration: Telling the Story of Captain William Smith in Blyth

200 years ago, Captain William Smith, a man born and raised in Blyth, Northumberland, built a tall ship named The Williams. During a trading voyage, Smith discovered Antarctica – but was never credited with the discovery. Now, The Williams Expedition aims to restore a working tall ship, as The Williams II, in Blyth. Then, in 2019, they will recreate the original expedition with a local crew sailing her south to Cape Horn and Antarctica – just as Captain Smith did two centuries ago.

In celebration of Captain Smith and The Williams II, Headway Arts and The Blyth Tall Ship have formed a creative partnership, Inspiration Exploration, as a means of championing the story of this local hero. Headway Arts create highly-inclusive participatory projects, which offer world-class opportunities for local people to contribute to the cultural life of their communities.

For Great Northumberland 2018, Headways Arts and The Blyth Tall Ship present Blue Flag – an installation of over 600 handmade blue sailcloth flags. The aim? To illustrate Captain Smith’s journey of discovery via an ephemeral flurry of colour and movement.

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And how might this be achieved? Headway Arts have been working with local people, using exciting cyanotype photoreactive and printmaking techniques – on the coast, of course.

Where To See Blue Flag

Flags will appear along the tideline near to Blyth’s iconic beach huts. Be sure to catch a glimpse of this colourful homage to a local hero!


Pop Sunday 19 August in your diary, as this is when the flags will be available to view from dusk ‘til dawn – in response to the turn of the tides.

How Can I Get Involved with The Williams Expedition?

The Blyth Tall Shop are currently renovating their Williams II Tall Ship in preparation for leaving the UK in August 2019.

To find out more about the expedition, please visit The Blyth Tall Ship’s website: