THE new-look Blake Museum saw the launch of an exhibition showcasing Bridgwater ship the Irene last week.

Mercury reporter James Beal went along to find out more.

SHE has sailed through two World Wars, five monarchs and 25 Prime Ministers - but now Bridgwater ship the Irene is being turned on to a whole new generation.

Irene was built by Bridgwater's FJ Carver and Son in 1907 and is the last of the South-West trading ketches still under sail.

Now an exhibition by Friends of Blake Museum, in the historic building on Blake Street, is showcasing work on Irene by schoolchildren in Bridgwater.

But, as Kay Robbins, learning co-ordinator from Blake Museum explains, it was all started by one picture.

She told the Mercury: “In January we took part in a Take One Picture project, where a museum takes a picture from its collection and teachers are encouraged to ask their pupils questions based on it.

“We chose the painting of the Irene, and the questions were along the lines of: where was she built? Who owned her? Where did she go?”

Teachers from Bridgwater schools then went to the museum to learn more about Irene - from her glorious trading days riding the oceans, to the devastating fire which sent her to the bottom of the sea in 2003.

Classes all around the town have now worked on models, paintings and poems about the Irene. Some have even learnt practical seafaring skills about knots and sails.

Much of their work is now on display at Blake Museum - as the month-long Irene exhibition was opened by Bridgwater Mayor Bill Monteith on Tuesday.

Kay added: “We have been very impressed indeed with the work the schools have produced.

“Also on exhibition is a model of the Irene and art work on greeting cards.”

HEAD down to Blake Museum from Tuesday to Saturday, between 10am to 4pm, until June 27 to catch the Irene exhibition or call Friends of Blake Museum on 01278-456127 for more information.