Possible New Shipwreck off Southend Pier found by local diver

September 21, 2023

Steve Ellis a popular local diver has stumbled across a possible unknown wreck whilst diving off Southend Pier.

On his you tube channel Steve says "the seabed off Southend is quite flat so when we come across anything that stands out we always make a note of it. The exciting thing about diving is coming across the unknown. The dive spot off Southend Pier had lots of spent bullet casings on it and modern bottles but it is definitely worth investigating further. We came across a few surface exposed timbers but we think there could be more underneath. We will definitely go back to the site and then do what we do on "The London" site, map it out and then look in the archives to try and find out what it could possibly be."

There are over 767 recorded ship wrecks in the Thames Estuary. The HMS London, the oldest wreck, found near Southend was a 90-cannon warship which blew up accidentally in 1665, killing 300 - but 24 people, including one woman, survived after being blown clear. Samuel Pepys wrote about the accident in his diary "...This morning is bought to me to the office the sad news of the London, in which Sir J Lawson's men were all bringing her from Chatham to the Hope, and thence he was to go to sea in her - but a little a-this-side of the buoy of the Nower, she suddenly blew up. About 24 and a woman that were in the round house and coach saved; the rest, being 300, drowned - the ship breaking all into pieces - with 80 pieces of brass ordnance. She lies sunk, with her round house above water. Sir J Lawson hath a great loss in this, of so many good chosen men, and many relations among them."

Rediscovered in 2005 during preparation works as part of the London Gateway Port development in Thurrock, Essex, in October 2008 she was designated under the ‘Protection of Wrecks Act 1973’ and placed on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register.

A specially chosen selection of 1,192 items recovered from the wreck of "The London" are now on permanent display at Southend Central Museum. They include a Dutch cannon, a bronze sundial and Bartman jugs that are currently on display to showcase the way of life on board.

The wreck of the HMS London is so significant that the Port of London Authority is moving the shipping channel to avoid disturbing it. It has been dived on several times, and sections of wood have been recovered for archaeologists to analyse.


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