17th century warship wreck in Thames river protected

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17th century warship wreck in Thames river protected

October 24, 2008 - 01:02
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UK Culture Secretary Barbara Follett designated the wreck site of HMS London a protected site which bans any interference by divers. HMS London blew up and sank in the Thames Estuary in March 1665 as she was being brought up the river from Chatham, killing more than 300 people. The move to protect the site was recommended by English Heritage who feared the rediscovered warship would be plundered of valuable artefacts including brass cannons.

The warship was the oldest of hundreds of wrecks identified during the largest-ever post-war salvage operation on the Thames.

Wessex Archaeology and the Port of London Authority, which regulates the river, used 3D survey equipment to locate wrecks which pose a risk to shipping. It was also a perfect opportunity to investigate wrecks with historical interest.

Parts of HMS London, a three-deck Second Rate warship built in Chatham in 1654, were found at two sites close to Southend.

She had been part of the navy squadron that escorted Charles II home from exile in the Netherlands following the death of Oliver Cromwell and the restoration of the monarchy.

She was also the flagship of Admiral Sir John Lawson and took part in the First Dutch War (1652-1654).

The 90-gun warship blew up accidentally possibly as the gun crews reloaded old cartridge papers with gunpowder.

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