Tom Cunliffe back with stunning new documentary series on British ships

Yachting Monthly’s Tom Cunliffe is back on mainstream TV with his important series The Boats That Built Britain, in which he takes a voyage through the history of seafaring and puts some of the vessels featured in the programme through their paces.

The first episode was about The Matthew, the ship from which explorer James Cabot landed in North America in 1497 and tonight’s episode, HMS Pickle, concentrates on the speed of the topsail schooner and how she raced back to England with news of Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Tomorrow Tom looks at the Phoenix, the square-rigger whose sisters turned Britain into a world power. Next week Tom sails aboard the Reaper the biggest sailing lugger ever to net pilchards and sails aboard a Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter which lay hove-to waiting to land the job of bringing home square-rigged ships safely into port.

The final episode is broadcast on 12 February when Tom looks at a landing craft which was the workhorse of the Normandy sea-borne invasion by Allied troops which sealed Hitler’s fate in World War II.

All programmes are broadcast on BBC 4 at 19.30.