The Purton Hulks

PH2A day out with a difference:  Ancient monuments in the form of boat wrecks?- no doubt about it,  it’s quirky and makes for a  ghostly spectacle! The Purton Hulks site, also referred to as ‘the ship’s Graveyard’ contains intentionally beached boats designed to protect the banks of the River Severn from erosion. The largest ships graveyard in Britain, the Purton Hulks forms a strip of land along the uneven terrain which runs between the river bank and the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal.

PH3The unusual solution to the concern that the land between the river and canal would be breached when the riverbank collapsed in 1909, was to fill the area with old boats (from steel barges to concrete ships) which filled up with water and silt thus creating a barrier to tidal erosion. Between 1909 and 1963 almost one hundred vessels have been beached here. Today, some are completely hidden by the grass that has devoured them.

Fascinating and unique, ‘the hulks’ has become a magnet for those interested in all things marine. The once narrow bank is now a broad grassland and it’s done its job brilliantly.



Over many years the ground has built up over the first of the boats and barges, so some of the later arrivals have been laid on top of the earlier ones. Sadly ‘the Hulks’ has been subject to vandalism, with visitors even breaking off pieces of wood to feed their barbecue!






  1. This is all news to me, too, and a wonderful piece of our history. Sad that people have used some of the wood to feed their BBQs. Wonderful photos, too, I suspect your husband’s work? I know he loves photography as much as I do.
    Margaret P


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