May-day! Save our ships

A beached vessel at Purton ships' graveyard
A beached vessel at Purton ships' graveyard

May-Day is the international call sign for ships in distress, and so in May our attention turns to the remains of vessels abandoned on our coast and tidal estuaries. Many date back to the age of sail: the hard-working boats and barges that once played a vital role in our coastal trade. Others worked as fishing boats or ferries while some were laid up to be reused as part of coastal defences. All are part of our rich maritime heritage: all are the victims of increasing erosion.