A HISTORIAN passionate about an important part of Cumbria’s past is calling out for others to help him uncover more information.

David Bridgwater, a historian from Bath, has been engaged in research into the life-sized carved wooden busts of the Wood family of shipbuilders at Maryport.

Maryport had, in the late 18th century, a glassworks, paper mill, and ironworks that were soon in decline, but in 1765 when William Wood opened the first shipyard in Maryport, the town began to prosper more.

He said there are three busts of John Wood, two of which dated 1754 and 1767 are currently on loan with himself, and another is with an antique dealer named Phillip Lucas in Spitalfields.

There is another bust, dated 1824, of the son of John Wood (Kelsick) by James Fell of Maryport which is currently with the Winterthur Museum in Delaware, USA.

A bust of Wilton Wood II, which David said is probably by James Fell, is still missing, but he is hopeful it will reappear in due course.

David said: “It is my sincere ambition that these busts, along with the journals of Kelsick Wood, and a group of seven miniature portraits of the Wood family currently in a private collection, and model of the ship Ann Nelson, currently in store at Liverpool Maritime Museum, return to Maryport where they can be exhibited at the Maryport Maritime Museum alongside other relevant material.”

The Maryport Maritime Museum is due to reopen in 2024 in Christ Church.

David added: “The paintings by William Mitchell of the harbour at Maryport showing the Woods yard  could form an important part of this exhibit.

“All these items are very important to the maritime history of Maryport.

“Phillip Lucas, the owner of the bust of William Wood has decided to sell his bust along with other antique items in his collection at Dreweatts Auctions in Newbury - it will come up at the end of October.

“He has informed me that there is a reserve of £6,000.”

David said he wants to uncover more information about the Woods’ and Maryport’s shipbuilding history, and hopefully, someone will get in touch with him to help.

If anyone has any information, they are invited to contact David directly at david.j.bridgwater@btinternet.com.

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