Paul Barnett is astonishing! He has just left a comment on a recent entry re the Purton Hulks near Berkeley- see his comment at the end of the entry here, how he is working to protect these old wrecks and mobilizing support from all corners to get protection for the Purton Hulks. His comment gives the low down on recent successes - the plaques they are putting out, signatures collected, the media coverage and the great recent project of the People's Archaeological Academy.
He also mentions The Friends of Purton - they were formed in 1999 and exists to protect and promote the amenities of the Purton Hulks, Gloucestershire - the largest Ships Graveyard in Mainland Briton. They write: "We aim to ensure that the site provides both an attractive open space which can be accessed and enjoyed without being spoilt. We aim to support the application for governmental protection as a listed monument and therefore prevent further destruction and loss of the nations maritime heritage". Membership fees are £20 per year - More details from: The Friends of Purton, 22 Gurney Avenue, Tuffley, Gloucester GL4 OYL Or: email@example.com
Anyhow I have now received another reply last week on my queries to Andy Burnham MP (Department of Culture, Media & Sport) on this topic: Thank you for your email of 20 May to Andy Burnham concerning the Purton Hulks and the case for their protection. I have been asked to reply. Of the current designation regimes, only one – the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 – could potentially encompass sites such as this. In making decisions about the designation (‘scheduling’) of ancient monuments, the Secretary of State’s interpretation of national importance is guided by criteria set out in PPG16: Archaeology and Planning and advice provided by English Heritage. I understand that English Heritage has recently indicated to Paul Barnett that it does not consider the case for the national importance of the Purton Hulks to be proven. There are several important issues here. One is that designation would not prevent the greatest threat to the hulks, which is coastal erosion. English Heritage has been a leading player in discussions about the impact of climate change and coastal erosion on the historic environment and has commissioned a programme of Rapid Coastal Zone Assessments to help us address the issues. It is also speaking to maritime museums and others to consider whether there are other options for the preservation of the most significant wrecks in English inter-tidal waters, such as lifting and preservation in museums of the rarest examples. This brings us to the second issue, establishing how important the Purton Hulks are in comparison to the many hundreds of wrecked boats surviving in the English inter-tidal waters. These boats have not had the benefit of the systematic recording which Mr Barnett has done at Purton, but English Heritage must assess all of them before it can establish a national picture against which the claims put forward by Mr Barnett for the significance of the boats can be assessed. In preparation for the reforms to designation procedures proposed in our draft Heritage Protection Bill, English Heritage is currently preparing a strategic designation programme which will focus in the first years on those parts of the historic environment that have been under-represented in past: a consideration of the issues raised by the Purton Hulks will be a key part of this. To this end, it hopes to complete its research and be able to assess the Purton Hulks properly in two years’ time. In the meantime their inclusion in the Gloucestershire Historic Environment Record (HER) should ensure that their archaeological potential is considered during any works which require Planning Permission under the best practice guidelines established in PPG16.