THE plight of Gloucestershire’s ‘incredible’ Purton Hulks have once again received national recognition via the BBC’s popular Sunday evening TV programme Countryfile. Broadcast to six million viewers, the programme captured the serene tranquillity of the village and its now famous collection in full spring sunshine as the cameras again rolled to tell the story of the largest ships’ graveyard in Britain.
During the piece, regular Countryfile presenter Katie Knapman chatted with Paul Barnett, chairman of the Friends of Purton to highlight the history of the site and to obtain a feel for the rapidly disappearing vessels which were beached in the early 1900s to arrest coastal erosion.
Whilst ankle deep in mud, the programme went to discover that the Friends had effectively produced a comprehensive document to catalogue the history of the 81 vessels known to be at site. Further, the piece documented the work of Birmingham University who were on hand to capture electronically 3D images of the remains by use of state of the art laser scanning equipment.
Finally, the programme advised viewers that determined efforts of the Friends had at long last been rewarded by having recently secured official protection of The Harriett, as a scheduled ancient monument. In light of this, Mr Barnett was said to be elated at this development, however, he advised caution by saying the scheduling is a small yet significant step forward and vowed to continue in the quest to obtain protection for all by stating ‘One down, eighty to go’.
Paul Barnett and the Friends of Purton have recently been nominated for the Environmental Hero category of the Pride of Gloucestershire Awards and are the current runners up recipients of the Nautical Archaeological Society’s Adopt a Wreck Award 2009 for their contributions over the last eleven years, in trying to preserve an important part of Gloucestershire’s maritime history.