Listen to Win Scutt's Local History slot on The Late Show with Vic Morgan every Monday evening at 10.30pm, broadcast on 95.7FM, 855 medium wave and DAB digital radio.

Recent features


This week on the Plymouth Breakfast Show with Gordon Sparks, Win Scutt will be talking (Wednesday 8.30am) about James Rendel, the engineer who brought the incredible Floating Bridge to the River Tamar. There's a great new book out about it by Alan Kittridge.


Here is a link to some fascinating diaries of emigrants describing their voyage from Plymouth to New Zealand on board the Arethusa, Eagle, Hereford and Royal Stuart.


On Plymouth's Barbican you will find a plaque commemorating the first transatlantic flight, which arrived in Plymouth on 31st May 1919.

The United States Naval Air Service planned for four four-engined flying boats, the NC1, NC2, NC3 and NC4, to achieve this "First Across the Atlantic" flight, but it was only the NC4 that actually made it to Plymouth.

A fire in the flying-boats' hangar meant that the NC2 had to be cannibalised to obtain parts for the other three.

Sixty eight destroyers were assigned to mark the route of the flight. Mother ships were despatched to each port of call with spares and fuel facilities for repairs. Five battleships were assigned to stations every 400 miles along the route.

With their six-man crews, the three remaining planes took off early on 6th May 1919 from Rockway, New York for Nova Scotia. NC1 and NC3 arrived on schedule, but NC4 ran into difficulties and she arrived in time to meet the other two planes taxiing back from a vain attempt to start their transatlantic journey.

After an engine change and replacement of three engines, all three flying boats took off on 16th May. They were separated by bad weather, and only NC4 arrived in the Azores safely. NC1 sank off the Azores after a rough landing in heavy seas. NC3 also had a rough landing and taxied into port after two nights in a storm.

NC4 took off again on 26th May. Although the crew found it difficult to follow the line of destroyers, they touched down at Lisbon to a great welcome. The 6 man-crew under the command of Albert Cushing Read, had made the 2,400 mile flight in 25 hrs. 1 min. flying time. The whole journey had taken them 20 days and 10 hours.

NC4 proceeded to Plymouth, flying over the US Battleship Rochester and the minesweeper Aroostook which were at anchor inside the Plymouth Breakwater awaiting their arrival.

The following month, 14-15 June, Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown in a Vickers Vimy bomber, made the first non-stop transatlantic flight between islands, 1,960 nautical miles from St John's, Newfoundland to Clifden, Ireland in 16 hours, 12 minutes.

Links to other websites on Plymouth history

PLYMOUTH DATA The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History

Brian Moseley's Plymouth Data Website, covering old Plymouth, Devonport and East Stonehouse, and also the ancient parishes of St Budeaux, Eggbuckland and Tamerton Foliot, which make up the modern City of Plymouth, within the County of Devon, in the United Kingdom. Webpages relating to Plympton and Plymstock are now being added.


Chris Robinson's website with prints, books and Plymouth history.


Steve Johnson's wonderful emporium of historical images and maps of Plymouth.


World Archaeology News

Find out about the latest archaeological news from around the world as reported every Tuesday on BBC Radio Five Live by Win Scutt more

Want to Study Archaeology?

You can study Archaeology GCSE 'A' Level from home using online materials and expert tutorial support. There is also advice on Archaeology degree courses in the UK. Find out more by following the Learning link. more

British Archaeological Awards 2006

Win Scutt's weekly BBC Radio Five Live archaeology slot has won the Wedgwood Press Award in this year's British Archaeological Awards. more


The Halfpenny Gate, Stonehouse

This is the song that used to be sung to the refrain of Chandler's Hymn "Conquering Kings" "We Three Kings" etc. etc.
It refers to the fact that the Halfpenny Gate at Stonehouse Bridge, which belonged to the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, charged sailors but not soldiers to go through.
Lordy Edgcumbe, Earl divine,
All the hakey-fish are thine;
All the fishes off Penlee
Lordy Edgcumbe belong to thee.
Lordy Edgcumbe, we are told
That you've bags and bags of gold;
So lift the toll, for this is true
What's much for us is nought to you.
Lordy Edgcumbe by the sea
'Tis us poor sailors keep you free;
So dowse the Toll and let us through,
P'raps Peter'll do the same for you.
Lordy Edgcumbe, noble Earl,
After Jack has met his girl,
with cash all gone and getting late,
What hope has he to pass the Gate?
Lordy Edgcumbe, up the hill,
'Tis a shame to treat us ill;
Marines and soldiers go through free,
Yet the sailor has to pay his fee.
Lordy Edgcumbe, good and great,
Open wide the Halpenny Gate,
For your credit and renown
Pull the bloody Toll Gate down.

The great debate on the origins of Britain's early languages has started. Find out the latest news and how you can learn more by following this link.

If you're curious about archaeology, but a total beginner, this site will show you how to find out. Here you'll find advice on good books, weblinks and courses. You can even study 'A' Level Archaeology online.

What's been happening in the world of archaeology? Win Scutt's weekly look at world archaeology over the last seven days. Follow this link to read the stories or listen again to his broadcast.

Website by Win Scutt

Win Scutt is an archaeologist, lecturer and broadcaster based in Devon, UK.