A PHOTOGRAPHIC exhibition detailing the excavation of a shipwreck off Southend pier has opened to the public.

HMS London was first rediscovered in 2005 during works to build the London Gateway superport.

The ship was part of an English squadron sent to the Netherlands in 1660 to restore Charles II to the English throne.

However, London’s illustrious career as the flagship of the maverick admiral Sir John Lawson was cut short on March 7, 1665 when she mysteriously blew up at the Nore.

English Heritage commissioned Cotswold Archaeology and licensed divers have been carrying out underwater investigations.

Southend Museums Service won a grant to curate, conserve and display finds from the wreck and to develop a local community project.

This included recruiting and training 17 mostly local volunteers to help with the finds. They were stationed at the end of the pier where residents and visitors could watch them sorting and undertaking preventive conservation of objects recovered from the London Shipwreck.

Among the volunteers was local photographer, Luke Mair, whose pictures documenting the project are now on display at the Beecroft Art Gallery, in the former Southend Central Library building, Victoria Avenue, Southend until Saturday June 27.

Luisa Hagele, assistant curator of archaeology at Southend Museums, said: “The exhibition is going really well and we hope the second excavation will start later this month.

“It’s been great how local people have really got involved with the project and taken an interest. It’s put both the museum and Southend on the map.”

Hundreds of artefacts have been discovered including muskets, pistols, leather shoes, cannon balls, candles and clay pipes.