THE story of Barrow’s long links to shipbuilding and the maritime world was told in spectacular fashion in 2002 when thousands of people took part in the Festival of the Sea.

The Mail, on Monday, August 19 in 2002, noted: "An estimated 30,000 people joined in Barrow's Festival of the Sea celebrations over the weekend making it one of the biggest events ever to be held in the town.

"Organisers say the festival, at Barrow Docks and the Dock Museum, was a huge success, exceeding all expectations and smashing target attendance figures.

"The centrepiece of the festival was at Barrow Docks where huge crowds enjoyed watersports, a bumper funfair, tours of a BNFL ship, fireworks and the grand finale - a full display by the Red Arrows aerobatics display team."

Organising committee chair and Barrow town centre manager Ann Taylforth said: "We were so absolutely overwhelmed by the number of visitors on Saturday that we had to open up an extra 10 acres of land for car parking on Sunday."

Barrow mayor Dave Pidduck said: "It proved a tremendous success for the people of the borough.”

A British Nuclear Fuels spokesman said 3,000 people visited its marine terminal over the two days.

The article noted: "There were hundreds of boats, ships and yachts tied up in the dock to admire, trade stands, exhibitions and concerts.

"One of the biggest crowd pullers was the jet-ski demonstration by the country's top riders.

"With eager crowds packed on the grass verges around the docks, five times British Freestyle Champion Keith Rimmer turned on the style performing somersaults and other tricks.

"Earlier, huge crowds watched as the Royal Navy's search and rescue team from HMS Gannet swooped down on the water in their Sea King helicopter to save a stranded volunteer."

Among those soaking up the atmosphere was the Brough family from Strathmore Avenue, Walney.

Keith Brough said: "It is about time Barrow had a big party event like this."

Among the many vessels on show at Barrow was a tug called Brocklebank which came out of retirement to return to the town for the first time in 18 years.

It used to help pull the steel shells of new submarines through the dock system ready for fitting out.

The article noted: "The motor tug Brocklebank sailed in from the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool.

"Excited festival -goers wanting to know more jumped on board for a special tour of the famous boat."

At the Dock Museum there were displays by Barrow Model Boat Club and a demonstration by the Historical Diving Society.

The article noted: "Crowds standing along the dock watched as divers wearing up to 95kg of equipment dating back to the early 1900s plunged deep into the water.

"Meanwhile at Barrow library visitors enjoyed an exhibition of maritime art featuring work by many Furness artists."