Thames shipwreck moved piece by piece 160 miles… to Leicestershire
The wreck of an Elizabethan ship is being raised from a Portsmouth lake and taken to a new home in Leicestershire.
The so-called Gresham Ship has been 6m (20ft) underwater at Horsea Island Lake since being moved there after its discovery in the River Thames in 2003.
A large crane is being used to lift the 400-year-old remains for the journey to the Stoney Cove National Diving Centre.
The Nautical Archaeology Society‘s Mark Beattie-Edwards called it “exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time”.
The merchant ship is thought to have been built in the 1570s. It sank in the River Thames and was only discovered in 2003, and raised the following year.
The insignia of Sir Thomas Gresham, an advisor to Elizabeth I who owned a cast-iron cannon factory in Mayfield, Sussex, was found on the barrel of one of its guns.
With its exact identity unknown, it has become known as the “Gresham Ship”.
Five sections of the hull were taken to Horsea Island, part of the HMS Excellent navy base, as a temporary storage measure.
However with public access to the military site limited, it is being raised and moved to its final resting place 160 miles (160 km) away at the National Diving Centre – a flooded quarry at Stoney Cove, Leicestershire.
It will be used as an “underwater classroom” to train nautical archaeologists.
A team of eight divers are working to raise iron bars, the ship’s anchor and the 400-year-old pieces of timber, the largest of which is more than 8m (26 ft) long and weighs 8 tonnes.
A large crane and lifting airbags are being used to lift the pieces out of the water when they will be wrapped to avoid evaporation.
Mr Beattie-Edwards said: “I have massive anxiety – so many things could go wrong here.
“With such poor visibility in the water, the divers are effectively doing this blindfolded.
“We’ve got to hope that when the crane takes the weight, the timbers are strong enough to withstand the lift.”
The remnants are due to be put on military low loaders supplied by the Royal Engineers.
Their journey to Leicestershire is scheduled to begin on Tuesday afternoon.