Monday, January 22, 2007

Wreckers, Past & Present

Good to see the old traditions being upheld:

Scavengers take washed-up goods

Police are patrolling beaches in Devon where members of the public have been taking goods washed ashore from stricken container ship MSC Napoli.

Hundreds of people have made off with valuable hauls from some 40 containers which drifted onto Branscombe beach.

This is not a new practise in the counties of south-western England, where "wreckers", as they have known, have been at work for centuries, "salvaging" material from shipwrecks. Wreckers have even been suspected, over the years, of encouraging shipwrecks by trying to lure passing ships onto the rocks. An old sailors' prayer reveals something of the wreckers' reputation:

My grandparents used to live in Cornwall, and there were many pubs around the area with stuff hung on their walls (including, in one instance, a piece of armour plating from a Royal Navy destroyer) which, technically speaking, belonged to other people. Anyway, I gather there are now a number of people in the Southwest of England who are the proud owners of new, somewhat wet, BMW motorcycles.

No comments: