The wreck of the pre-First World War battleship HMS Montagu, and a series of steps that were cut into the cliff face on Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel to help salvage the wreck after she ran aground in 1906, have been granted protection by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England. HMS Montagu and the associated ‘Montagu Steps’ have been scheduled and added to the National Heritage List for England.
HMS Montagu was launched in March 1901 and was built in response to large French, Russian and German ship-building programmes prior to the First World War. It is an example of the transition of warship development between the 19th century ‘Ironclads’ and the revolutionary turbine-powered big gun British ‘Dreadnought’ warships launched in 1906, the same year when HMS Montagu ran aground. HMS Montagu is rare as the only surviving ‘Duncan’ class battleship anywhere in north European or English waters.
On 30 May 1906 HMS Montagu grounded on rocks around the Isle of Lundy at Shutter Point in thick fog, due to a navigational error while undertaking secret radio communication trials. It could not be saved and had to be broken up and salvaged where it lay.
Helen Whately, Heritage Minister said: “HMS Montagu and the Montagu Steps are all part of our nation’s fascinating naval history. Sites like these must be protected for future generations and together with Historic England and Help for Heroes, we have now done exactly that.”
Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said: “Not only is the wreck of HMS Montagu important for what it can tell us about pre-First World War naval shipbuilding, but it is forever linked to the landscape of Lundy Island by the distinctive flight of rock-cut steps. Combined, the wreck and the steps provide a rare group of maritime monuments.”
Dr Dan Atkinson, Coastal & Marine Director at Wessex Archaeology said: “We’re delighted that our archaeological work last year, carried out on behalf of Historic England, has led to HMS Montagu being granted heritage protection. It’s a rare example of a pre-Dreadnought battleship, marking a fascinating period of expansion and innovation in the UK’s naval forces and, since its foundering in 1906, has remained an intrinsic part of the Lundy community’s cultural identity, enjoyed by locals, tourists and the diving community alike.”
HMS Montagu was initially salvaged by the Liverpool Salvage Company for the British navy but in June 1907 the wreck was sold to the Cornish Salvage Company. An aerial walkway, suspended from the island cliffs to the wreck, was constructed and a series of steps were cut into the cliff face to help with the salvage operation.
The steps were built in 1907 and are now known as the ‘Montagu Steps’. They are recorded on Ordnance Survey mapping and survive to the present day as a reminder of the salvage operation on the stranded battleship. They are cut into the granite of Lundy Island and were reinforced with iron plates in places which are likely to be parts of HMS Montagu’s hull salvaged from the wreck. A reinforced suspension bridge comprised of over 10 tons of material was built from HMS Montagu to the cliff steps, ensuring the passage to the stricken vessel was possible in any weather and at any state of the tide. Remarkably, the bridge was completed in just 32 hours.
Last summer, wounded veterans carried out a series of dives on the wreck of HMS Montagu to determine what remains of the wreck. This project was funded by Historic England, the charity Help for Heroes, which helps British service personnel and veterans wounded in the line of duty and their families, and Wessex Archaeology. The archaeological and historical data gathered from last summer’s underwater survey work contributed towards the decision to protect this important site in the Bristol Channel.
For more information please visit the Historic England website by clicking here.
Photo Gallery: Dive Fest Barbados
In our Gallery feature, we let the photos tell the story… Each Gallery showcases a selection of outstanding images on a chosen theme, taken by our Underwater Photography Editor Nick and Deputy Editor Caroline of Frogfish Photography. This time they reflect on their visits to the Caribbean Island of Barbados for the annual Dive Fest celebrations.
Dive Fest Barbados is a week of celebrating the marine life, diving and snorkeling this idyllic island has to offer. There are activities organised each day for all those that attend that include wreck diving, marine conservation, learning to dive, snorkeling and one an unusual dive for us – riding a submarine to the bottom of the Caribbean Sea! Dive Fest Barbados allows divers to get the very best out of a trip here, with plenty of diving, but also to sample the unique atmosphere, mouth-watering food and drink, stunning scenery and beautiful beaches.
For more images from Barbados and around the world, visit the Frogfish Photography website by clicking here.
Video Series: The CCMI Reef Lectures – Part 4 (Watch Video)
Introduced by Jeff Goodman
Never before since human beings have had major influence over our earths climate and environments, have we come to so close to the brink of global disaster for our seas and marine life. We need to act now if we are not going to crash headlong into irreversible scenarios.
A good start to this is understanding how the marine environment works and what it means to our own continued survival. We can only do this by listening and talking to those with the experience and knowledge to guide us in the right direction.
CCMI (Central Caribbean Marine Institute) are hosting an annual Reef Lecture series that is open to the general public and Scubaverse will be sharing those lectures over the coming months.
Part 4: Stop Whining! Life as an Ocean Ambassador; Ellen Cuylaerts
Ellen Cuylaerts shares her insights on how to act, practice what you preach and use your voice to contribute to constructive change. Ellen is a wildlife and underwater photographer and chooses to take images of subjects that are hard to encounter like harp seal pups, polar bears, orcas, beluga whales and sharks, to name a few. By telling the stories about their environment and the challenges they face, she raises awareness about the effect of climate change on arctic species, the cruel act of shark finning and keeping marine mammals in captivity.
During this seminar, Ellen will take you on a virtual trip and show you the stories behind the shots: how to get there, how to prepare, how to create the most chances to come home with a shot, and how to never give up!
Ellen Cuylaerts is an ocean advocate, underwater & wildlife photographer, explorer, and public speaker.
For more information about the CCMI click here.
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