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Mark Milburn’s Cornish Wreck Ramblings, Part 14: Wrecks and salvage, the Cornish way

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In our popular series of Cornish Wreck Ramblings by Mark Milburn…

Part 14: Wrecks and salvage, the Cornish way.

Researching wrecks can lead to finding many tales of wrecks and salvage.

You may have seen the Poldark episode where they went down to a wreck on the shore, just how realistic was that? On the same beach as the Poldark wreck, there was a real wreck from 1684, the Schiedam. When it ran aground, the locals gathered on the shore, helping everyone off the wreck. No one died and the official reports stated, very little was thought to have been taken except for a musket or two. There is also a wreck from the right era for the Poldark program, the Dollar Cove wreck, covered in the last rambling.

Schiedam cannon off Dollar Cove where the Poldark programme was filmed

On the contrary, one of my favourite stories from 1720:

‘They write from Falmouth of the 18th inst. that a Dutch ship from Nantes run on shore near that port laden with brandy and saffron. She might have been got off but, the Country People coming so thick, they were obliged to leave her. But some of those plunderers, having drank so much brandy and being busy in the hold with a candle, set fire to the brandy, by which means the ship and cargo were destroyed and two of the ruffians perished in the flames. We are informed that 7 or 8 more of their gang are imprisoned and ’tis thought examples will be made of them according to the Act of Parliament.’ (Richard and Bridget Larn 1995 Shipwreck index of the British Isles, volume 1 : Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset)

I suppose the brandy was just too much of a temptation for those ruffians.

In 1751 there was another wreck, on the north Cornish coast:

`On the 24th ult. in the night, a ship was lost at Redreeth near St.Ives, and all the crew perished. A large quantity of logwood and pieces of eight are saved, a pocket book also was taken up with the name of Walter Brown upon it. The said ship is supposed to be the ST ANTHONY, Brown, from the Canaries for London.’ (Lloyd’s 1969 Lloyd’s list)

It was nice that the logwood and pieces of eight were saved but the crew were not.

4 reale coins from Rill Cove (Kerris Read)

When the Kerris Read, a wooden fishing boat ran aground in 1976, there was no looting. It was at the bottom of tall and steep cliffs. When divers went to investigate the wreck of the Kerris Read, they found many silver coins around the wreck. The silver coins were Spanish, minted in Mexico or Spain, the newest being around 1616. They recovered a large number of the coins, they still appear on eBay today, from all over the world. There is no record of a wreck of that age in the area, it is doubtful if anyone would have seen it at the time, because of it’s location. There is a record of a brigantine that sank in 1839, at the exact same location. There is a remote chance that the coins were being carried by that ship, there are records of 100+ year old coins being used to pay for supplies in foreign ports. One thing that is a little strange, there are no remains of the Kerris Read there, perhaps that was salvaged. It wouldn’t be the first time. A well known local diver once salvaged a sunken trawler, it was then used as a salvage vessel itself.

During the 1980’s, I worked in a builder’s merchants during the day. I remember one of my customers coming into the store asking about the price of Mahogany, an expensive hardwood. A couple of days later, he turned up with some hardwood to show me. He was not happy when I told him it was the much cheaper Meranti and not Mahogany. He said he had risked life and limb, climbing down the cliffs to recover the timber. He said there was loads of it. Some local building companies had taken all their staff off their current jobs, to recover some of the wood. I cannot remember the name of the ship, nor the exact year, I just remember a very upset customer with Meranti.

On March 26th, 1997, the MV Cita ran aground on the Scillies. Many locals helped clear up the cargo, removing items from along the coast.

Who was keeping what? No one knew. The police made records of who took what, certain items ended up in the local society. One container had Quinnsworth bags, bound for Ireland, they were used in shops for months following the wreck of the vessel. Even a seat off the bridge was taken and fitted to a local dive boat. No one was prosecuted for taking any items.

It’s probably a good job the MSC Napoli didn’t come aground in Cornwall in 2007, it would have been chaos. Mind you, those Devon folk made a good job of it…

MSC Napoli run aground in 2007


Find out more about Mark and Atlantic Scuba at www.atlanticscuba.co.uk

Mark Milburn is the owner of Atlantic Scuba in Falmouth, Cornwall, England, and is an SDI/TDI/NAS/RYA Instructor and a Commercial Boat Skipper. Although often referred to as a maritime archaeologist, he prefers to call himself a wreck hunter. Find out more about Mark and Atlantic Scuba by visiting www.atlanticscuba.co.uk.

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Scubaverse UWP Winners Gallery: Christian Horras

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Each month we give the winner of the Scubaverse Underwater Photography competition the opportunity to show off a little more of their work in a gallery. The March winner was Christian Horras and you can see their winning image at the top of this page.


What do you love about diving & underwater photography?

For me it is all about showing the beauty of our world underwater to people that don’t dive and thus can’t see it for themselves. I want to share my own passion for the amazing ecosystem that is so much older than everything we know living on land. As I am from Germany, there are only a few people in my surroundings that have ever seen a coral reef or a shark with their own eyes. It is a big privilege to be able to go diving all over the world and in return it should be our task to arise awareness of this fragile and endangered ecosystem.

What equipment do you use?

I use a Nikon D810 in a Isotta Housing and various lenses, depending on the subject: a Sigma 15mm F2.8 Fisheye, a Nikon 16-35 mm F4 and two Nikon Macro lenses (60mm and 105mm), as well as a WeeFine +13 Diopter. The Fisheye is my main lens, as it allows me to get really close and still cover a big field of view. For lighting I use two Retra Pro Strobes and a Retra Snoot.

Where can our readers see more of your work?

Website: www.christianhorras.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/christian.horras/


To enter the latest Scubaverse Underwater Photography competition, with a chance to win some great prizes as well as have your own gallery published, head over to the competition page and upload up to 3 images.

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Dive Training Blogs

My Dive Buddies Episode 1: Alejandro Dutto’s Best Wreck Dives! (Watch Video)

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My Dive Buddies Episode 1: Alejandro Dutto’s Best Wreck Dives!

The first in a new series, where I invite my local scuba diving buddies into the Dive Locker for a beer and a chat! This week I’m chatting with Alejandro Dutto, Co-Founder of the International Scuba Divers Club and Publisher of the digital scuba magazine ‘Trim.’ I know Alejandro is a man after my own heart. Before covid hit, we dived South Florida wrecks together frequently and I’m looking forward to getting back in the water with him.

But for now, I’m happy to have a beer with him and talk about our top three favourite South Florida Wreck Dives. Alejandro also talks about the challenges of filming at technical diving depths and about his new Spanish language dive magazine.

Please follow Alejandro’s channels here:

Thanks everyone! D.S.D.O James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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