This week we commence a virtual tour across the Atlantic Area to discover partners’ maritime history related tourism attractions and the pilot actions that will be developed within the TIDE project, which is leading the digital transformation of the tourism sector in the Atlantic Area.
Our first stop will be Devon in England where Devon County Council will develop two pilots related to Spanish Armada and World War 1 themes, as TIDE is using digital technology to bring historical content to visitor attractions and enhance new sustainable tourism packages. Bill Horner, DCC County Archaeologist and TIDE project partner, explains that one of the pilots, being developed jointly with Donegal, Derry & Strabane (and with the input of Clarte in France), will offer a Virtual Reality (VR) experience recreating the ascent of a kite balloon from a World War 1 Atlantic convoy escort ship. These tethered balloons were based at Torbay and in the partner regions. They were a platform for spotting threats such as U-Boats and anti-shipping mines. However, the virtual flight will also take in the coastline, warships, merchant vessels, fishing trawlers, airships, seaplanes, and seabirds. The second pilot will consist in another virtual experience, this time under the water, with a tour of the Armada era Church Rocks Wreck off Teignmouth, with its wonderfully preserved finds including canon and breech-loading swivel guns.
Discover Berry Head!
Located in Devon, Berry Head offers spectacular views across Torbay, and for this reason it was chosen as a strategic location for the defence of this important coastline during Napoleonic times and in World War 2.
According to Bill, the Napoleonic-era defences at Berry Head represent some of the best-preserved remains of this period anywhere in Britain. Guns were first sited here in 1780 during the American War of Independence, but construction of new and substantial fortifications was underway by 1794 following the turmoil of the French Revolution. From 1800 the Napoleonic Wars brought the threat of invasion. Berry Head commands extensive views of the western approaches to the English Channel as well as protecting the important Royal Navy anchorage of Torbay. Contemporary plans show that three forts were intended here, though only two were constructed.
During World War 1, one of the forts, known as the Old Redoubt, was home to a rather short-lived yet novel means of defence against German U-Boats and mine-laying ships that were wreaking havoc on the local fishing and merchant fleets. In July 1918 a kite-balloon station was established, with a two-man crew sent aloft in a basket beneath a tethered hydrogen-filled balloon to spot U-Boats. Aircraft and seaplanes from nearby RAF stations would be alerted to intercept the enemy vessels. Other balloons, based at Torquay and at Plymouth, were attached as protection to shipping departing these harbours. Berry Head again saw service during World War 2, when a Royal Observer Corps aircraft-spotting post was established within one of the forts.
And the Teign Heritage Centre!
Located in Teignmouth, Devon, the volunteer-run Teign Heritage Centre is home to Teignmouth & Shaldon Museum with displays and finds celebrating the area’s maritime heritage. In the Sea Gallery are displays on fishing and shipbuilding; Admiral Pellew (a notable Napoleonic era commander); the stories of local sailors who fought at the Battle of Trafalgar;and the impressive collection of finds from the 16th Century Church Rocks Wreck.
With the TIDE project, Devon is collaborating with other Atlantic regions to access new historical material and attractions that complements their maritime history. Stay tuned!