A rare gun carriage from one of England’s most important shipwrecks has been raised from the depths.
The well-preserved 350-year-old carriage was on board the warship the London when it accidentally blew up off Southend Pier in Essex in 1665.
It has lain below the surface ever since and was due to be raised today. Due to adverse weather conditions, the operation was moved forward and it was brought to the surface yesterday.
Alison James, marine archaeologist at Historic England which managed the project, said: “Due to the weather rapidly deteriorating and a brief suitable weather window we had to make the decision to recover the gun carriage slightly earlier than planned.
“It was lifted on Tuesday morning and will be hoisted off the crane boat on to the quayside today.”
The London had been travelling from Chatham to the Hope, in Kent. It was one of only three completed 76 gun, wooden Second Rate ‘Large Ships’ that were built between 1642 and 1660.
The warship was part of a squadron that transported Charles II from the Netherlands back to England in 1660 to restore him to the throne in an effort to end the anarchy which followed the death of Oliver Cromwell.
It lies in two parts in the Thames Estuary and is regarded as one of the country’s most important 17th century shipwrecks.
Artefacts recovered from the London wreck are similar in scope to those recovered from the Mary Rose but are 120 years later in date, Historic England said.
The gun carriage is classed as a national treasure at risk. Although it is well preserved, over recent months parts have become more exposed to the sticky clay in the Thames Estuary and it was at risk of breaking up.
It was hoisted on to to a barge using a 20-ton crane before being transported to Leigh-on-Sea where it will be displayed to the media today.
It was kept wet in protective blankets overnight and will be driven to York for conservation work.
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