Monday, May 16, 2011

Future of the Purton Hulks to be debated

The Purton Hulks with the River Severn 
on the left and the Gloucester and 
Sharpness Canal on the right: 
Picture by Hamish Fenton©

Supporters of Britain's largest ships graveyard, The Purton hulk site, in Gloucestershire on the banks of the River Severn, will come together at the Sharpness Dockers Club next month to debate its future.

The site which is the last resting place of Harriett, the only remaining Kennet Barge, is also the graveyard of 80 other vessels that were beached there to protect the banks Gloucester and Sharpness Canal from the ravages of the tidal Severn.

The Friends of Purton are concerned about the risk from vandalism and their Chairman, Paul Barnett  says that  despite assurances given in 2007 by English Heritage and again in March 2010 by the Culture Secretary, Margaret Hodge, that the site was adequately protected from vandalism by SSSI legislation, the hulks do not in fact have the legal protection needed to ensure their preservation for future generations.

Kennet Barge, Harriett beached on the banks of the
Severn at Purton:
Picture by Bob Naylor©
Last year British Waterways claimed ownership of the site and BW Heritage Advisor, David Viner said, "It has become increasingly important to ensure that this site, which has 81 derelict vessels, has an owner to look after it properly. 
     "BW owns the canal alongside the site and a staff presence will raise awareness and help to tackle vandalism — our first responsibility is to make sure the site is protected.
     "A lot of the vandalism is because people don't realise the significance of the boats," he concluded.

Stroud MP and Cotswold Canal Vice President, Neil Carmichael with Paul Barnett, Chairman of the Friends of Purton
beside one of the hulks at Purton.


Local MP to Chair meeting
Chairing the meeting will be Stroud MP Neil Carmichael who is a Vice-President of the Cotswold Canal Trust and a member of the The Commons Environmental Audit select Committee that considers the extent that government policies contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development and among those taking part in the debate will be representatives from English Heritage, Natural England, British Waterways, Stroud District and Gloucestershire County Councils and Hinton Parish Council.

Paul Barnett said, "Everyone with an interest in the future of the site should attend to participate in the ongoing debate to protect the regions diminishing maritime  archaeology."

The meeting is at the Sharpness Dockers Club, The Docks, Sharpness, Berkeley , GL13 9UN at 7pm on  Wednesday 1 June 2011. 

Related stories: 


Friends of Purton website:

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