15 Jul 2009

Purton Hulks latest

Some will know I've covered on this blog some of the ongoing developments of the Purton Hulks - The Largest ships graveyard in Mainland Britain - see for example here and here. It is good to see some movement on this - let us hope the new Marine Bill will afford protection. Anyway below is their latest press release on this...

Purton' forgotten Hulks lead way to a proud maritime nation

Following its national exposure on the BBC' flagship geographical programme Coast, to be shown Tuesday July 28th BBC2 8 pm, The Purton Hulks are destined to make a welcome return to our T.V screens later in the autumn.

Once again the peaceful and calm river setting in the heart of Gloucestershire's green belt is to be the location for continued debate and discussion regarding the nations rapidly dwindling maritime heritage. Set amongst the rolling back drop of the Forest of Dean, once famed for its rich supply of hearts of oak, the Purton foreshore and its now famous hulks are set to be catapulted into the public eye following the recent filming by the BBC for its popular investigative reporting series Inside Out to be screened in September 2009.

September’s program, hosted by the eminent Maritime Archaeologist and veteran presenter Professor Mark Horton, seeks to unravel this complex and long running legal battle to have this unique collection of remains protected for the nation. Filming which took place during a packed weekend schedule of archaeology and surveying led by the Friends of Purton proved to be ever popular and was attended by the Nautical Archaeology Society, Cotswold Archaeology and the MP for Stroud David Drew.

As an avid Friend of Purton and campaigner, Professor Horton has openly criticised lack of protection in a recently published article within the archaeology journal Rescue News for what he sees as a distinct lack of the Agencies legal powers. "It does seem extraordinary that this nationally important collection of over 80 ships and barges should simply be allowed to vandalised at will, and there is nothing that can be done at present to stop it. Our heritage is becoming firewood!'

Friends founder Paul Barnett remains steadfast that the site is worthy of national recognition despite the repeated and ongoing incidents of wanton destruction. Furthermore he stated, "That despite the continued efforts of both the Friends and several thousand like minded individuals who have pledged support via the ever growing petition, English Heritage continues to deny the nations largest ships graveyard purposeful protection in law" "This has been further complicated as agency claims that the sites status as a Special Site of Special Interest (SSSI) is adequate to protect the archaeology, despite the glaring fact that SSSI law is primarily concerned with the flora and fauna and in essence disregards archaeology".

"We remain indebted to the BBC and Professor Horton for highlighting the case and urge all to contact their MP in support"

This position has now been further strengthened in a statement made earlier today by David Drew MP for Stroud who stated “I am pleased that under the Marine Bill we now have some protection for marine shoreline artefacts – but we will have to see how this works in practice. I have been talking to both English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund on how we can use the legislation to fully protect the Purton Hulks and to find some funding to get this really exciting project the support it now needs.”

For further details on how to join the Friends of Purton or pledge your support visit www.friendsofpurton.org.uk

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