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Wrecks of two 19th century sailing ships protected

Two mysterious well-preserved 19th century merchant shipwrecks have been given protection by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport at the request of Historic England. The still unidentified wooden cargo vessels are now known as GAD23 and WA08. The vessels were used to transport Cornish slate and coal. The wreck of the former is
Published: February 17, 2021 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 22:01
Wrecks of two 19th century sailing ships protected

Two mysterious well-preserved 19th century merchant shipwrecks have been given protection by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport at the request of Historic England.

The still unidentified wooden cargo vessels are now known as GAD23 and WA08. The vessels were used to transport Cornish slate and coal. The wreck of the former is located at the bottom of the North Sea, at the southern tip of England, in a place known as Goodwin Sands. The second is located at the mouth of the River Thames in the county of Essex.

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sonar picture of a sailing shipwreck What does it mean in practice for the diving community to put the wrecks under protection? Both archaeological sites are still accessible to divers, but all their contents are protected by law and must remain in situ.

These wrecks serve to give us an insight into the heritage of Britain’s industrial past. I welcome their protection, which will enable us to secure them and keep them in good condition as we continue to learn new things about the role they have played in our nation’s history,” said Nigel Huddleston Minister for Heritage

sailing ship wreck from the 19th century The wreck of GAD23 is also known among divers as the bowsprit, because the long spar coming out of the bow of the sailing ship is still clearly visible, which adds even more charm to the wreck. The continued possibility of conducting dives in both locations will certainly please both regulars and diving tourists.

These two nameless sailing ships help to tell the fascinating story of English industry. They are a rare testament to the trade that took place off the coast of Britain in the mid to late 19th century. This is a period when Britain rapidly developed its industrial and commercial power. – concluded Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England

GAD23 is the virtually complete wreck of a wooden merchant ship that rests on the bottom near Sandwich, Kent. The sailing vessel was carrying a large consignment of coal on the day of her sinking, and after sinking to the bottom she settled evenly on her keel. Unfortunately it is at serious risk of deterioration as its hull is constantly subjected to the elements as a result of changing tides.

WA08, on the other hand, is also a well-preserved wreck of a wooden cargo ship from the second half of the 19th century. It measures 38 metres long and 9 metres wide, and was discovered in 2016 during a routine survey by the Port of London Authority. It is likely to have had three masts and was carrying a large cargo of Cornish roofing slates when it sank.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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