FROM historic boats and forgotten shipwrecks to the lost landscapes of the Solent, the Southampton Maritime Festival will be a chance to delve into the region’s rich past.

With this weekend’s event coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, the first day of the festival tomorrow will coincide with the first shots fired by the British during the conflict.

Fittingly the event at Dock Gate Four of Ocean Terminal will be an opportunity to explore Southampton’s role in both world wars.

The Mayor of Southampton, Sue Blatchford, will officially open the event at 11.30am tomorrow by ringing a bell from the shipwreck of First World War vessel the Michael Clements.

The steam trawler was part of the Auxiliary Patrol Force which monitored the Solent for submarine activity, and was sunk after being rammed off the Isle of Wight in August 1918. All the crew survived the sinking.

There is a packed programme of talks on both Friday and Saturday.

They will start at 10am tomorrow inside the Ocean Cruise Terminal, with a look at the Arch- Manche project and its contribution to the EU coastal zone management.

That will be followed by talks on the Flying Enterprise, the SS Shieldhall, Trafalgar Dock, the Solent’s lost landscapes and forgotten shipwrecks of the First World War.

On Saturday, the programme will start at noon with a talk about the Royal Navy submarine HMS Thetis, which sank near Gosport during trials in 1939 with the loss of all 99 people on board, and their widows who launched legal action against the Admiralty.

There will then be talks on the steam tug Challenge, the social maritime history of the Itchen, Southampton’s trams and the history of the Red Funnel Group.

A series of four Titanic trail walks will be starting from the Southampton Tourist Guides stand inside Ocean terminal each day, while there will be heritage bus tours around the city.

Places are limited and you can register online at bus-tour-of-southampton-tickets- 11631717781.

Nick Ridehalgh, ABP director Southampton, said: “The location of the Maritime Festival at the port is particularly relevant to the First World War element of the event.

“The Port of Southampton played an important role in the First World War. It was designated as the number one military embarkation port in August 1914 and more than eight million troops and their equipment departed for mainland Europe through the port throughout the war.”

Advance tickets, priced £5 for adults and £1 for children for day tickets or £12 for two adults and parking, are still available online at southampton Tickets, priced £6 for adults, £5 for over-60s and carers and £1.50 for children aged five to 15, will be available on the festival gates.