The wrecks of two ships that sank off the south-east coast of England a long time in the 19th century have been approved legal protection by the federal government, regardless of the identity of each remaining a secret.
The ships, both wooden, sail-powered freight vessels, were utilized in the everyday transportation of items, and were carrying slate and coal on their last trips. While ships of this kind would have been a frequent sight in the mid to late 19th century, really few make it through, according to Ken Hamilton, national listing advisor for Historic England.
Hamilton stated that compared with some shipwrecks the vessels were rather ordinary. “However that is part of their interest. Almost like a vernacular maritime architecture, these would have been really typical in the late 19th century. And there are extremely, very, few of them making it through today.
” They’re both part of among the largest markets in the UK– maritime transport– and there’s actually not quite enduring of that fleet. So these are unusual examples of what was once a really common sight.”
Apart from losing their masts, both ships remained in an excellent state of conservation, he stated. Each had retained its bowsprit, the long wooden spar at the front of the vessel to which foremast ropes would have been connected.
Among the ships, known as GAD23, lies on the notorious Goodwin Sands sandbank off Sandwich, in Kent. A sail-powered collier or coal ship, it was carrying a large consignment of the fuel when it sank, possibly after a collision.
While as lots of as 5,000 damaged sail-powered colliers had been tape-recorded, said Hamilton, the places of only about 25 were understood. Just one other such example was listed.
The other wreck, WA08, rests on the West Barrow sandbank in the Thames estuary, and was found during a regular survey by the Port of London Authority in 2016. Intriguingly, according to Hamilton, the secret ship was bring a large consignment of Cornish roof slates, at a time when the slate industry was controlled by slate from north Wales.
” The reality that this is bring Cornish slate is really odd. And it makes me wonder whether this was an order for a specific building. Had somebody specified Cornish slate? I do not know. However that would be one of the [reasons] we would like to identify this wreck.”
Research study into GAD23 had actually identified three possible prospects that would fit with the ship’s tonnage, location and cargo. These possibilities consisted of the Archimedes, which sank in 1876, the Zia Catherina, which sank in 1878, and the Superior, which sank in 1868, although the latter was a bigger ship making it less most likely. All 3 went down after accidents; and damage to the starboard side of GAD23 recommends it could have suffered the exact same fate.
The addition of both wrecks by the UK government to the nationwide heritage list for England means these ships and their contents are safeguarded in law, and can not be removed in salvage operations.