Discover the sunken ships hidden within the riverbank at Purton Hulks, the UK’s largest ship graveyard, a unique place to get up close to ships over 100 years old. The boats were first sunk on the banks in 1909, in order to prevent erosion of the banks and protect the Sharpness Canal. Over time, silt fills the empty ships, which weighs them down and keeps them in place. Many of the older ships have been covered with grass, blending them into the landscape. Keep an eye out for wooden sterns and pieces sticking out of the banks! This area of Purton Hulks can be accessed via a walk beside the Sharpness Canal, which was established to avoid a long turn in the Severn and speed up shipping time. Today, 80 boats lie within the banks ranging from schooners, barges, trows, dockyard and work boats. Severn Trows were shallow, flat-bottomed barges that sailed the Severn from South Wales and Bristol up to Worcester and Stourport. They were designed to be strong in choppy waters and suit the varying tides characteristic of the estuary.
Friends of Purton protect the hulks through their research and documentation of the sunken ships. They offer guided tours of the area, so you can find out more about the fascinating history of these many ships.