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Local history: Forgotten Wrecks Exhibition in Folkestone - a personal view

Contributed by editor on Nov 20, 2015 - 10:55 AM

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By Ray Duff

Following Susan Carey's excellent report on the opening of the new WW1 related display at St Peter's, also known as the maritime or fisherman's Church, I offer a personal view of this important exhibition.




... suggestion that the project could lead to a major series of explorations of such wrecks around the coast .....

The exhibition is being held to mark over 700 wartime wrecks which are known to lie off the south coast of England.

 

On 17 November it was the centenary of the sinking of Hospital Ship Anglia sunk by German mines just 1 mile from the safety of Folkestone harbour.

 

Susan Carey mentions the exhibition is being held to mark this and all the other vessels lost around the coast including the channel off Folkestone.

 

Once everyone had gathered, and had a chance to view the displays, the event's speakers were introduced by the vicar, the Rev David Adlington.

He spoke about the Church, situated high above The Stade, which had been witness to many incidents in the Channel, including in both World Wars and the terror they provoked with many lives lost. He also invited people to remember both these lives; and those recently lost in Paris.

HMS Nubian (left)

 

The Mayor of Folkestone, Cllr Emily Arnold spoke of her and her family's, long association with the Church, and thanked all involved for making such an important part of our local history available to the public before formally declaring the exhibition open.

Churchwarden, Dr David Wilson explained why the exhibition was being held saying that at this time the event marked the loss of the WW1 Hospital ship HMS Anglia off Folkestone in 1915.

 

Having left Boulogne with wounded soldiers from Loos, she had approached the port but hit one of a series of mines which had been layed by a German U-Boat. It resulted in the loss of over 160 lives. A nearby merchant vessel Lusitania which went to help also hit a mine and sank.

 

Even a few days later, a trawler named the Falmouth with naval reservists aboard; which had come to help clear the mines hit another mine and was also lost.

 

As part of the exhibition the Church has been reading the names those lost on the Anglia and other ships.


Finally Dr Wilson told people that on weekends during the exhibition it is hoped that an invigilator will be on hand to talk to visitors about the displays.

Father Goodburn of St Peter's, then led prayers and related the next list of names being remembered.



Top: Artefacts cabinet with some recovered local wreck items. Below: back row - Rev David Adlington, Roger Joyce, Father Goodburn  front row: Town Mayor Cllr Emily Arnold, Dr David Wilson   Photo: Ray Duff

 

Roger Joyce, of sponsors Folkestone HEART group, related that the display had first been suggested by local person Mr Chris Conn at a meeting of the project, and from this the Maritime Archaeology Trust exhibition was acquired on its tour around the UK.

The exhibition features several large information boards which detail the stories of the some of the numerous wrecks around the UK coast many of which are long forgotten.

 

Whilst some of the over 700 wrecks have been identified, there are many which remain to be formally rediscovered. The loss of lives in these wrecks; which took place for many reasons, including war losses; is considerable indeed.

 

Also featured in the exhibition is a cabinet with just a few of the artefacts recovered locally.

Discussions after the opening ceremony led to a suggestion that the project could lead to a major series of explorations of such wrecks around the coast, not just those in respect of WW1.

 

I believe this could  enhance our own local archaeological excavations of various sites both at sea and on land, such as at East Cliff.

I urge everyone to go and view this poignant exhibition, sign the visitors book, and bring a friend along as well.

Useful links

Susan Carey story
http://www.stpeterschurchfolkestone.org
www.maritimearchaeologytrust.org
http://shepwayfootprints.org/about/heart-forum.html

 

© Hawkinge Gazette and Channel Coast News 2003 - 

 

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