A TEAM of divers have been investigating the remains of a 17th-century shipwreck at the bottom of the Thames Estuary near Southend Pier.

The project aims to accurately map the layout of the historical shipwreck, known as The London, which has been near the foot of the pier for 350 years.

In 1665, tragedy hit the London warship when it exploded in the Thames Estuary, killing 300 people.

The “second-rate” ship is identified in Samuel Pepys Diary as part of the fleet that brought Charles II back to England.


Found - an axel of a 350-year-old gun carriage is hoisted ashore

The team of divers have been examining the condition of the wreck, using a state-of-the-art tracking system to map the ship’s features for the first time.

Historic England Maritime Archaeologist, Hefin Meara said: “This project and the diving undertaken by licensed diver Steve Ellis and his team are vital to inform our understanding of the deteriorating condition of The London protected wreck site.


Drawing - a portrait by William van de Velde

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“We’re excited to be leading this project working with partners using new technology which will enable us to accurately map the wreck and help to inform how best we can protect it from further erosion.”

The wreck was partially excavated in 2014-2016 and finds included leather shoes, glass bottles and an incredibly rare and extremely well-preserved 355-year old wooden gun carriage which was raised from the seabed.


Team - the licensed divers

The London was one of three completed wooden Second Rate ‘Large Ships’ built between 1600-1642 and is the only one whose wreck still survives.

The ship blew up when gunpowder on board caught fire as the ship was en route to collect supplies to take part in the Second Anglo-Dutch War of 1665-67.

The London is currently on Historic England’s at Risk Register, due to its ongoing erosion.

It is hoped the new data will be vital in the mission to protect the shipwreck and help enable future management of the site.