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Episode two: Thames Estuary
Actor and comedian Adrian Edmondson continues his exploration of our island nation’s harbours and ports. In this episode he sails the waterways where the River Thames meets the sea, the Thames Estuary, once the most important trading route in the world.
Ade starts his journey at Chatham Dockyards, back in the 1500s the dockyards off the estuary were famous for shipbuilding and for over four hundred years the Royal Navy’s ships were built at Chatham. At its peak it employed thousands of men and women from shipwrights and carpenters, through to flag and rope makers.
Ade meets master rope maker Fred Cordier to ‘learn the ropes’ and find out how rope makers played their part supporting the navy’s fleet of warships, including Nelson’s HMS Victory.
On leaving Chatham, Ade sails down the estuary to find out how this waterway will soon be the route to the largest deep-sea super port in Britain. London Gateway will operate cranes taller than the London Eye, designed to cope with the supersized boats of the future. Ade visits the new port and takes hold of the controls of one of the new cranes, but will he be able to cope with the pressure?
Back at Sea and Ade sails up to one of the more unusual features of the Estuary, The Maunsell Forts. These sea forts were built during the Second World War to help defend the country but are now left abandoned and living relics of the past.
To finish his sail on the Thames estuary Ade joins the crew of Cabby, the last wooden traditional Thames Sailing Barge as they compete in a sailing match that goes back over one hundred and forty years.
We’re an island nation, our history and culture shaped by the sea. For centuries, we’ve used our waters for fishing, trade, exploration, conquest and defence, and sometimes simply for pleasure.
In this six-part ITV series, comedian and presenter Ade Edmondson sets sail to explore Britain’s maritime past and discovers how it continues to influence the lives of the people who still depend on the sea today.
Fascinated by British maritime history, Ade Edmondson has a passion for the sea, since being a boy he’s dreamt of sailing around the world and the British Isles. Inspired by Ade’s genuine fascination for Britain’s seafaring past and a love of all things nautical, in this series, he at last gets his chance to explore Britain from the sea.
The series reflects the rich diversity that our sea and coast has to offer, as Ade discovers those gems of tradition, heritage, invention, and modern expertise that makes our British coastline unique.
Ade immerses himself in British seafaring culture and history - from discovering the root of the phrase shipshape and bitter end to making rope with one of the last surviving rope makers. With his natural curiosity, with and warmth he takes viewers on his voyage as he pilots a huge tanker through the Bristol Channel, sings sea shanties in Liverpool Bay, takes in modern deep sea fishing, lave netting in the Severn Estuary, visits island communities and is even airlifted out of the North Sea.