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Workshop Two

Workshop 2: Man Overboard!

The second workshop can be run as a whole-class activity, but each table should have copies of the sources. Each pupil should have a History Detective notebook. (click here to download this ) The source images could also be projected on a whiteboard for class discussion.

Teachers script:

“Hello, history detectives!

Today, your job is to find out about something that happened in Newbiggin over 100 years ago.

As detectives, you will be using historical sources as clues. You will be thinking about what each clue can teach us, and piecing together the story.

Are you ready to become history detectives?

In each of the envelopes in front of you is a set of clues. Use your investigation notebook to write down your answers and observations.”

In Envelope A is a photograph of a small glass beaker inscribed “New Biggin Disaster Dec. 9th 1904.”


Q: What do you think this is?

A memorial glass

Q. What does it tell us?

There was a disaster in Newbiggin on December 9th 1904

Q. What does it not tell us?

What kind of accident was it? Was anyone hurt? What caused it?

In Envelope B are two pictures.

nro_5283a175_221     nro_5283a176_221_01

Q. What do you think they are?


Q. Why might they have been made?

To commemorate the event/as a memorial to the accident.
As a way to let people know what happened.

Q. Look at the first postcard. What has happened?

The Steamer SS Anglia has hit the rocks and is grounded.

Q. Look at the second postcard. What does it show?

A small boat has overturned and there are men trying to swim in the water. The Steamer from the other postcard is in the background.

Q. How many men are in the water


Q. What do these sources not tell us? What do you still need to find out?

How did the accident happen? Did any of the men survive? Who were the men?

In Envelope C is a piece of writing [teacher to read out]


Q. What do you think the source is?

A school log book entry describing the Newbiggin Disaster.

Q. Who might have written it?

The school teacher

Q. What does it tell us about what happened in Newbiggin?

'A coble disaster occurred this morning, seven fishermen being drowned in an attempt to render assistance to the stranded Steamer Anglia. As only half of the children met for school, and they too excited for work, they were sent home'.

Q. What does it not tell us?

How many men drowned?
What were their names?
How did the disaster happen?

In Envelope D there is a clue taken from a newspaper article.


What can you find out from this piece of evidence?

The newspaper article gives a full description of what happened, how many men drowned, and their names.

What do you notice about the names of the men who died?

7 of them share the name 'Armstrong'

What was the fishing boat that capsized called?

'The Henry and Jane'

Ask the pupils for two more questions that they would like to answer and then show them the remainder of the sources – can they answer their questions?

Where else might they be able to find the answers?

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