Purton Hulks A ships' graveyard

On the banks of the river Severn between the village of Purton and Sharpness docks lies the largest collection of beached hulks in the world: the Purton Ships Graveyard.

In the early 20th century, a number of old vessels were run aground along the bank of the Severn, near Purton, to create a makeshift tidal erosion barrier to reinforce the narrow strip of land between the river and canal. Barges, Trows and Schooners were "hulked" at high tide, and have since filled with silt. More boats have been added, including the schooner "Katherine Ellen" which was impounded in 1921 for running guns to the IRA, the Kennet Canal barge "Harriett", and Ferrous Concrete Barges built in World War II.

We woke early one Sunday morning and were looking to go for a walk somewhere new. I had only a couple of days earlier attended a talk by Paul Barnett (Friends of Purton) where I had learnt of the hulks' existence. The site is only a thirty minute drive, so we headed off with newly released Fujifilm X30s.

Located on the banks of the river Severn south of Gloucester, the ships graveyard was deserted when we arrived and we had the added bonus of the river being shrouded in mist. The far bank was almost hidden by the mist. Most atmospheric.

This decay and the forced grain patterns in the planks forming these once hard working barges made excellent subjects for photography.

Concrete lighters had also been beached as late as the 1960s.

Further information on the Purton Hulks can be found at

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