Sunday, 12 July 2015

Purton Hulks

Our cruise along the River Severn from the start of the navigable part from Stourport upon Severn, southwards to Sharpness has proved to be very interesting. As you might imagine, the early transport systems have played a major part in what was a quite remote area. As you might expect, wherever, you get a transport system, you also get stories of various incidents, calamities and disasters.

In a curious way the village of Purton which is divided by the River Severn has given its name to a ships graveyard known as the Purton Hulks which is on the east bank of the river. A series of possible breaches in the Gloucester Sharpness canal were avoided by sinking boats to bolster the eroding shoreline. 

The hulks are very close to the line of the canal embankment. Over a period in time 81 vessels were added to the group. Some of which were the last of their type. Typical is the only remaining Kennet canal barge, Harriett. Now, the Purton hulks are providing a place where the boats can be studied.  However, the first move was to protect the vessels from further damage, vandalism and looting.

I feel some association with this area because some of my ancestors came from this area of Gloucestershire. The towns and villages of Bream, Lydney, Blakney and Awre. They had moved here from Bristol. I don't think that any worked on the ships and boats. Most seem to have been involved in the glass engraving in Bristol. Changing their vocation to quarrying, coal mining and forestry in and around the Forest of Dene area. 

A great deal of additional information can be found on the Friends of Purton website.

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