Just south of Purton the Gloucester and Sharpness canal runs very close alongside the Severn, forced to do so by a ridge to the south which also pushes the tidal river into a loop.
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This section was vulnerable to being undercut by the ferocious tides and fast floods on the river. The solution was to build some sort of breakwater on the south side of the channel. An easy and cost effective method was to beach redundant barges and lighters along the bank, where they filled with silt and rapidly became assimilated into the landscape.
These vessels, some having been stranded for over 100 hundred years, are known as the Purton Hulks, or more recently the Purton Ships Graveyard. This is one of the largest collections of historic inland waterways craft in the country.
The wooden vessels are in various stages of preservation, some merely an outline in the undergrowth, others being basically intact.
The best preserved, unsurprising, are the concrete barges built in Barrow In Furness in Cumbria. These were constructed during the WWII, when all available steel was required for the war effort.
The remains lie on about a mile of the foreshore, although there are some further afield, like the Severn Falcon, hauled up below the railway tower nearer Sharpness.
Severn Falcon. Built in 1935, beached in 1974.The whole area is an SSSI and the local preservation society has done some remarkable work identifying most of the boats. Each has a small information plate giving details of the vessel.
I found it all a bit poignant. These once hard working craft reduced to no more than sandbanks. Still, I suppose if they hadn’t finished up here they’d have been dismantled for the timber or gone under the cutting torch.
Meg Explores FCB 67
We had a walk around the village in an unsuccessful quest for a cup of coffee.
NB Daydream goes through Purton Upper BridgeKeepers Cottage
There’s a row of cottages along the canal and one has this “Wishing Well Garden”.
You put a coin in the slot and it rolls down and rings the bell. All cash raised goes to a local charity, the Willow Trust. They have a couple of boats and take seriously ill and disabled people out on the canal.
It’s been a fine day, up till mid afternoon when the showers came in again. Same weather pattern as yesterday, difference is Meg and I weren’t out in it!
Red Admiral on thistles.
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