Matthew and Tyntesfield Trip
Report by David Beach


6th & 13th June, 2017
WSNTA Matthew
The Matthew


John Cabot sailed the original Matthew from Bristol to Newfoundland in 1497. To celebrate the 500th anniversary of that epic voyage, volunteers funded the construction of the replica which is now based in Bristol. It has taken to the high seas, including a re-enactment of that first voyage to the USA in 1997, but generally it stays on the Bristol Avon.

It is not often that we are able to advertise a trip and get such a response that we need to re-book for a second one, but this is what happened, and initial fears that we would not have enough to cover the cost of the one hire were soon dispelled and turned into a fear we would not fill both! We need not have worried, and with the exception of one or two who had to cancel the day before, we filled all places and were able to accommodate those who had been on a waiting list!

There are always concerns, too, that an incident on the M5 will wreck a trip, but we were in luck on both Tuesdays, and having had a half hour comfort break on the way, arrived 'harbourside' with fifteen minutes to spare each time.

Unfortunately, on June 6th there was a forecast of heavy rain and strong gales, and the Matthew team were understandably keen to avoid wrecking their unique vessel, so on that day it remained quayside. The loss of the 'cruise' was compensated by an excellent opportunity to explore the vessel, including the hold, and areas not normally available for inspection, and for some members this was of greater interest than the cruise would have been. The crew were helpful and informative, and the workings of the rudder [operated by a lever rather than a wheel] were explained. The hold is fitted out with quite comfortable looking bunks, which are no doubt much appreciated by the crew when Matthew occasionally takes to the high seas, but on a long voyage in olden days the hold was likely to be full of provisions, with the crew sleeping on deck if they could find a dry corner.

With a little time to spare some members then had a short visit to the 'M-Shed' museum of local history, which is free admission and well worth an hour or two.

We then took the short drive to Tyntesfield where we had a pleasant but damp opportunity to visit the house and gardens, preceded for some by a meal in their Cow Barn Restaurant.

The repeat trip on June 13th was blessed with much better weather and the members enjoyed the cruise around the 'floating harbour', which took about 55 minutes and took us down to the locks at Hotwells, with views of the thriving Bristol harbourside as well as the historical SS.Great Britain. At times it was almost too warm at Tyntesfield,- what a contrast in the weather over just one week! Despite the roadworks afflicting Bridgwater, both trips arrived back slightly ahead of schedule.

WSNTA Matthew Trip
On the deck of the Matthew