Tom’s Ship of Stories

Our acclaimed storytelling performance devised in partnership with The Horniman Museum and Gardens, the National Maritime Museum and The Cutty Sark is now available for booking directly by special schools. This project was funded by the Arts Council.


The  project was devised in collaboration the 3 museums and local special schools, with contributions from  a music therapist and a digital artist.

We developed a story with the children about a 19th Century apprentice who gets a job on board a Tea Clipper and leaves his family and friends to see the world. On route he experiences hardships, learns sea shanties, meets new friends in different countries and receives a precious gift to take home.

We tried out sensory ways of telling the story, creating the atmosphere of the sea and decided that the destination of the voyage was China.

In each school the needs of the children was different, from academically able children with autism to children with complex needs and severe learning disabilities. We were able to try out many different ways of storytelling and participation that were accessible to all.

The resulting performances at the museums have been very successful.

Special Educational Needs Drama Performance on Cutty Sark, Tween decks.
Special Educational Needs Drama Performance on Cutty Sark, Tween decks.

Some teachers comments:

“Very well thought through, addressing the auditory, sensory and visual needs of the audience”

“The whole performance was fantastic, the children were extremely engaged”

“It was lovely to come to something that was pitched at just the right level”

We then worked with all 3 museums to develop their own sessions created specifically for special needs groups drawing on the techniques we’ve used in Tom’s Ship and the many things we’ve learned.