The wreck known as GAD 23 comprises the remains of a mid- to late-C19 wooden sailing ship of about 400 tons, carrying a cargo of coal.
Reasons for Designation
The wreck known as GAD 23 is scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Period: Surviving wrecked vessels of this particular type in English waters are extremely rare and number fewer than fifty;
* Survival: Despite the effects of environmental decay, a significant portion of the hull survives and retains a number of key characteristic features;
* Potential: GAD 23 has the potential to enhance our knowledge and understanding of merchant seafaring during this period through examination of hull constructional details, fixtures and fittings and artefact assemblages;
* Documentation: The importance of this vessel is considerably enhanced by the information obtained from geophysical and archaeological survey;
* Historic interest: The collier was a once prolific and highly significant part of the expansion and development of England’s domestic and overseas mercantile trade.
The wreck known as GAD 23 comprises the remains of a mid- to late-C19 wooden sailing ship carrying a cargo of coal. In the C19 and early C20, Britain was the world’s largest producer of coal, with 75 million tons extracted in 1850, rising to over 200 million tons in 1900. Much of that was mined in the north-east of England, with increasing coal production in South Wales from 1850. Coal was used for domestic and industrial purposes, with a large proportion used in the transport industries, and was primarily moved by sea. C19 colliers were typically wooden brigs or their variants, snows and brigantines, averaging between 250 and 400 tons, the majority of which were engaged in shipping coal from the north-east of England to London and beyond. Collier brigs were a common type of coastal vessel, with over one-eighth of the wrecks recorded in English waters being involved in this trade. Wooden brigs were gradually replaced by iron and steel steam ships throughout the second half of the C19, while other, larger sailing vessels such as the schooner and barque, also became more common in the coal trade. The last collier brig, the Remembrance, sank in a gale off Aldeburgh in 1904.
The Goodwin Sands comprise two principal sandbanks located 10km off the east coast of Kent, forming a historically notorious hazard to shipping. Over 800 shipwrecks have been recorded on the Goodwin Sands, 46 of which were recorded as carrying coal between 1833 and 1899. GAD 23 remains unidentified, but its location in the Goodwin Sands suggests a collier bound from Newcastle to either the south coast of England or a port on the west coast of the European mainland.
The wreck was first discovered during a multibeam sonar survey of the sea bed around the wreck of the Stirling Castle in April 2005, as part of the Rapid Archaeological Site Survey and Evaluation (RASSE) project. As the bowsprit of the vessel was still in situ, the wreck was provisionally named the Bowsprit Wreck. The wreck was resurveyed in September 2005, by which time the bowsprit was no longer in position. The site was surveyed by the RASSE project again in 2006, and by Wessex Archaeology in 2008, 2009 and 2011. The 2011 survey was accompanied by a tracked diver survey, which looked at the structure of the ship more closely. More recently, GAD 23 was surveyed in 2017 and 2018 by Pascoe Archaeology, MSDS Marine and Swathe Services on behalf of Historic England. The repeated surveys show some degradation to the structure of the wreck.
PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: The site of GAD 23 comprises the wreck of a mid- to late-C19 wooden sailing ship operating in the coal trade. The site position in the apparent centre of the site in the middle of the main wreckage was plotted as a point at Lat. 51° 16.113’ N Long. 001° 29.583’ E and converted to 51.269722 1.499444.
DESCRIPTION: The wreck of GAD 23 comprises an intact wooden vessel measuring approximately 40m by 10m lying at a depth of 16m, but a deep scour on the west end extends to 19.5m. The wreck lies east – west, with the bow pointing west and is canted over on its starboard side by about 50 degrees.
The ship’s bow is visible in the scour to the west and the sides of the hull are exposed for most of the length of the vessel. In 2012, exposed planking to a height of 4m was visible at the bow, although there has subsequently been some collapse and unsupported structures have moved to starboard. However, several deck beams and a 5m stretch of deck survive in situ. The structure is less clear towards the stern of the vessel, and a breach in the port side has allowed some of the cargo of coal to spill onto the sea bed. A long, heavy timber, possibly the transom, is visible at the stern of the vessel. The rudder was recorded by divers on the sea bed adjacent in 2012.
The ship is of carvel construction. The outer planks are 0.22m wide and 0.08m thick, and are fastened with copper or copper alloy fastenings. Ferrous fastenings and treenails were also seen. The vessel was not sheathed. Deck beams are supported by iron knees and wooden stanchions.
A large iron pump-brake windlass sits to the port side of the bow. This was recorded as in situ on the wreck in 2012, but has shifted to the port side of the vessel. Remains of the stern post were recorded in 2012. Forward of the stern, a number of ferrous reinforcements, including knees and riders were recorded, together with the ship’s pump and its flywheels. High resolution data from 2017 and 2018 also show an anchor resting on the surviving deck beams. 2017 and 2018 data also show what appears to be the bowsprit of the ship immediately off the port bow.