Thursday, January 03, 2008




The Citizen
January 03, 2007

A County historian has been honoured with a prestigious award for his efforts to save a major Severnside shipwreck site.Maritime expert Paul Barnett, from Gloucester, has studied the 70 or so vessels beached at Purton, on the banks of the River Severn near Stroud, for years.

The site, just upstream from Sharpness, is the last resting place of vessels, from Severn Trows to concrete barges, and Mr Barnett's work aims to create a record of the craft.

Through the Nautical Archaeology Society's Adopt a Wreck scheme, he adopted the whole site and has now received that initiative's 2007 award.

"I was immensely humbled and privileged," said Mr Barnett, of Tuffley.

He received the award at the society's annual conference at the Historic Dockyard in Plymouth.

"The site has now the last remaining examples of various vessels," he said.

"My mantra is preservation in documentation."

Mr Barnett has painstakingly delved into the boats' histories, discovered their identities and taken hundreds of photos over the years.

Nautical Archaeology Society spokesman Ian Barefoot described his efforts as amazing.

"It is only in the comparatively recent past that the historic significance of these vessels, often built without the benefit of paper plans, has been recognised," he said.

"This amazing solo effort has in itself now received much deserved recognition."

Mr Barnett's fascination with the Purton site, and others nearby, began as part of his studies for his master's degree at Cardiff University. After that it became a personal crusade to create a lasting memorial to those who risked their lives transporting cargo on the treacherous River Severn.

Mr Barnett offers free tours and walks of the Purton site on 07833 143 231.


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