One of England’s most important 17th century shipwrecks, the London, which is rapidly deteriorating on the seabed off Southend-on-Sea in Essex is being excavated by English Heritage and Cotswold Archaeology to discover and retrieve many of the ship’s artefacts before they are lost forever. The London sank in the Thames Estuary nearly 350 years ago in 1665 after mysteriously blowing up en route from Chatham to The Hope, near Gravesend in Kent.
The London was one of only three completed wooden Second Rate ‘Large Ships’ that were built between1642 – 1660 and is the only one that survives. Now lying in two parts off Southend-on-Sea, the London played a significant role in British history as it formed part of an English Squadron sent in 1658 to collect Charles II and restore him to his throne in an effort to end the anarchy which followed the death of Oliver Cromwell.
English Heritage’s marine archaeologist Mark Dunkley said: “We are hoping to recover some rare and well-preserved items which will provide a great insight into the English Navy during an unsettled time when Britain was emerging as a global power. While the hull of the ship will remain on the seabed for the foreseeable future, the recovery and display of vulnerable artefacts will aid our understanding of life on board ship in the late 17th century and enable us to remove the wreck from our Heritage at Risk Register.”
Over the next two years, English Heritage has commissioned Cotswold Archaeology to carry out an underwater excavation in order to find out just how much archaeological material survives. Divers will be excavating three trenches in the bow of the wreck, exploring archaeological remains in the hold, the orlop deck where the anchor cables are, the main gun deck as well as carpenter and boatswains store rooms which would have contained tools and timber stores. Based on test dives of the site, expected finds include personal items such as leather shoes and navigational dividers, buckets, pots and cooking utensils, ship fixtures and fittings such as door latches, an anchor cable and ordnance including cannon balls.
The London was rediscovered in 2005 during works in advance of the London Gateway Port development in Thurrock, Essex. In October 2008, it was designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act (1973) and immediately placed on English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk register as its fragile archaeological remains were being exposed by shifting sediment levels on the seabed.
Steven Ellis, an experienced Thames Estuary diver who has been granted the Government licence to dive the wreck, working closely with Cotswold Archaeology, said: “Although the underwater dive conditions are difficult with limited visibility, we are looking forward to bringing up some exciting finds! ”
Finds recovered from the site will be curated by Southend Museums Service which has secured a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to develop a community project to record the finds as well as create a permanent display at the Southend Museums Service headquarters. There will also be a publication produced about the wreck.
Clare Hunt, Curatorial Manager at Southend Museums Service, said: “This hidden wreck lies just off Southend Pier, which is visited by thousands each year, yet the wreck remains largely unknown. It’s part of our local as well as our national history and we’re inviting local people to get involved in recording these ship finds.”
Southend Museums Service and Steve Ellis with his dive team are a contender for this year’s English Heritage Angel Awards for their work on the London. The Angel Awards, co-funded by the Andrew-Lloyd Webber Foundation, celebrate local people who rescue heritage at risk and will be announced at a glittering ceremony in London on 3 November 2014.
For more information, visit www.english-heritage.org.uk.
Save the Manatee Club launches brand new webcams at Silver Springs State Park, Florida
Save the Manatee® Club has launched a brand-new set of underwater and above-water webcams at Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, FL. These new cameras add to our existing cameras at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida, and Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, in Homosassa, Florida, which are viewed by millions of people worldwide. The cameras are a collaboration between Save the Manatee Club, Explore.org, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, who made the new live streaming collaboration possible via support of their interpretative program.
The above-water camera is a stationary pan/tilt/zoom camera that will show manatees and other wildlife from above water, while the new underwater camera provides the viewer with a brand new, exciting 180-degree viewing experience. Viewers can move the cameras around, trying to spot various fish and manatees.
The Silver River, which originates at Silver Springs, provides important habitat for manatees and many other species of wildlife. Over recent years, more manatees have been seen utilizing the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers. “The webcams provide a wonderful entertainment and educational tool to the general public, but they also help us with the manatee research,” says Patrick Rose, Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club. “We have learned so much through observing manatees on our existing webcams, and the new cameras at Silver Spring can add to the existing manatee photo-ID research conducted in this area, as well as highlighting Silver Springs and the Silver River as an important natural habitat for manatees.”
The webcams are streaming live during the daytime, with highlights playing at night, and can be viewed on Explore.org and on Save the Manatee Club’s website at ManaTV.org.
Save the Manatee Club, established in 1981 by the late renowned singer-songwriter, author, and entrepreneur Jimmy Buffett, along with former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, is dedicated to safeguarding manatees and preserving their aquatic habitat. For more information about manatees and the Club’s efforts, visit savethemanatee.org or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).
Dive Worldwide introduces three new resorts ahead of Go Diving Show
Ahead of Go Diving (2-3 March, Stoneleigh Park), the leading scuba diving exhibition that marks the start of the dive season, Dive Worldwide has introduced three new resorts, each one set in a world class diving location. Among them is Coral Eye Resort in Indonesia, an eco-friendly island retreat with a welcoming community vibe where like-minded people get excited about the marine world and all its wonders.
Dive Worldwide has the largest programme in the UK of tailor-made and small group liveaboard and resort-based diving holidays to over 200 destinations worldwide, catering for beginners and experienced divers alike.
Founded as an outpost for marine studies, Coral Eye is a boutique resort on Bangka Island, east of Sumatra, which has been transformed into a diver’s paradise. Today Coral Eye, set in the heart of the Coral Triangle, attracts a community of visitors who share a passion for the sea. Its eco-friendly villas are designed to blend seamlessly into the natural surroundings.
From Coral Eye and the Coral Eye Dive Centre, it is possible to discover more than 30 world-class dive sites– each within 40 minutes of the beachfront dive centre – along with the fascinating volcanic topography and varied marine life around Bangka Island in North Sulawesi. From the beautiful house reef to steep coral-covered pinnacles, charming critters, turtles, and abundant reef fish, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Dives, up to four per day, are guided in groups of four by local guides with a wealth of experience and keen eyes.
Price: 9 nights at Coral Eye Resort from £2,775pp based on 2 sharing including Full board, transfer, 10 dives, tanks and weights
This resort is an oceanfront haven where luxury meets adventure. Against a backdrop of lush greenery and a white sand coast in Playa del Carmen, The Fives Beach Hotel’s location in Riviera Maya provides access to a plethora of renowned dive sites, including the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and the world-famous Cenotes. Within the resort is The Fives Dive Centre with its range of SSI courses, from beginner to advanced. Guests can dive with eagle rays and look for a splendid toadfish in Cozumel. Puerto Morelos has such a cool vibe above the water, but below the surface the National Park is also the best the Caribbean has to offer.
With a diverse range of accommodation, choose from stylish rooms with balconies to vibrant suites and oceanfront residences providing more privacy and a panorama of the Caribbean Sea. Beyond diving, guests can indulge in the hotel’s array of restaurants, relax with a cocktail by one of the hotel’s seven outdoor pools, explore the vibrant local culture at the nearby Mayan ruins or enjoy the hotel’s numerous cultural offerings.
Price: 7 nights at The Fives Beach Hotel and Residences costs from £3,145pp based on 2 sharing, all inclusive, including 8 ocean dives and 2 cenotes dives, tanks, weights and transfers
Located in Puerto Aventuras, these stylish marina and lagoon view apartments, each with tasteful Caribbean interiors, are the perfect location for an ocean and Cenotes diving adventure. The 19 marina apartments offer views over the marina, while eight luxury lagoon apartments overlook a private bay in the lagoon and benefit from a small private beach and a swimming pool.
Diving the magical caves and passages of the world-famous Cenotes in Mexico is conducted with Maya Blue Dive Centre while ocean dives are provided through a local dive centre. The Mesoamerican reef system along the Riviera Maya is home to colourful coral gardens and marine life aplenty, providing an exciting and varied week of diving experiences including plenty of hawksbill turtle encounters. Travel between June and September and add in a snorkelling trip to see the incredible gathering of whale sharks around Holbox Island or Isla Mujeres.
For further information visit Dive Worldwide (diveworldwide.com, 01962 302087).
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