We all know how important ancient woodlands are. But, we have another amazing forest in the UK, a forest that very few of us have ever heard of, and defiantly not ever seen, a forest that surrounds our island, a forest that provide us with so many different things. We are talking about the beautiful forest that lies in our seas, the kelp forest, and all the many thousands of different seaweeds that live there.
Back in the Victorian days there was a small group of people that stumbled on these forests, they were a group of ladies who put down their knitting needles and flower pressing to go out on to beaches around our coast to collect, identify and press seaweeds.
In this film we want to take you on a journey through the many underwater forests, through the many thousands of beautiful seaweeds we have in our seas, and the thousands of marine animals that shelter in them.
We will use the amazing story of Margaret Gatty who was one of the prominent Victorian ladies collecting these seaweeds from around our shores.
For the first time we will be using actors in the film to tell the story of these amazing women, who had to accept the fact that although they lead the field in marine botany, they couldn’t write up their findings, not until the 1900’s were they allowed into the scientific profession.
We look at her work now stored at the Sheffield Museum; Alistair Maclean the museum curator shows some of her vast collection. And her two volume book British Seaweeds that was still being used in university until 1960.
In the seas we will show the many different algae’s beyond the reach of these shore collectors, and speak to the modern botanist’s about how different it is today compared to the Victorian days.
Alistair Maclean of Sheffield Museum
Margaret Gatty writing up her Diary
Margaret’s seaweed pressings
Filey, North Yorkshire, one of Margaret’s favourite beaches