Monday, 4 April 2016
The Purton Hulks
The Gloucester to Sharpness Canal was a regular haunt of mine as a child - the roach and perch were a major draw and I would often cycle miles of towpath to fish at Slimbridge, Cambridge, Frampton-Upon-Severn, Saul and much further down to Purton and Sharpness. Here, my friends and I would fish - invariably it would be winter and usually we were frozen. Huddled under canvas Efgeeco brollies with a flask of tommy soup and more often than not we were fishless. To warm up we would explore the mud flats, banks and barge wrecks of the nearby tidal River Severn. I cannot imagine parents letting their children do anything like it these days.......maybe ours did not know? Anyway they were happy times.
I made a return visit - not a lot has changed. The largest ships graveyard in maritime Britain is still there to shore up the Severn banks and protect the canal. It is a weird and eerie place.
Schooners, Trows, Stroud Water Barges, Dock Lighters, Work Boats, Bird Barges, Appledore Barge, Numbered Lighters...........they are all here. Most are named - Mary Ann, Monarch, Orby, Severn Collier, Rockby, Britannia, Higre, Tirley, Shamrock, Abbey, Ada, Huntley, Dursley, Selina Jane to name but a few.
The first barges were dumped in about 1909 with the last in the 1970's - they are still here covered by the silt of time and tide. May they rest in peace.