The Arkendale H & the Wastdale H near Sharpness

Posted on 03. May, 2016 by in Environment & Nature, Featured

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Andy Clarke writes: Just off Purton lies the wrecks of the The Arkendale H & the Wastdale H, upstream from the entrance to Sharpness Docks. This is the first time I’ve flown the DJI Phantom 4 so far away (1000ft) and across sinking sand and the River Severn’s famous mud banks – in short if the drone went down, I wasn’t going to be getting it back – even if I could still see it! This part of the river has been prone to a number of accident – both human and machinery and the tide covers the sand and mud extremely fast meaning you can caught very easily if you foolishly dared to venture onto the river bed.

I’m pleased with the overhead footage of the wrecks and also along the shoreline of the Purton ‘Ships Graveyard.’ The tide had already started “coming in” when I took the drone offshore, but I think the footage is still OK.

The Severn Railway Bridge took 4 years to build from 1875 and was completed in 1879. The Railway Bridge was 4,162 feet long and 70 feet above high water with 22 spans across the Severn.

On 25 October 1960, in very thick fog combined with a very strong tide, two barges – the Arkendale H and Wastdale H – which had both missed the Sharpness Dock entrance, collided with one of the columns of the bridge. Two spans of the cast iron bridge collapsed into the river. Parts of the structure hit the barges causing the fuel oil and petroleum they were carrying to explode and burst into flames.

The Western Region of British Railways planned to reconstruct the bridge but after further damage to the bridge in February 1961 (another span collapsed) The bridge was classed to be too expensive to repair.[

The mammoth demolition task started in 1967 and lasted until 1970 being managed by Nordman Construction. You can still see the peers between the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal and the River Severn. You can also see foundations are only visible at low tide, as too the wrecks of the petrol barges seen here.

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Director and Co-Founder of Stroud Community TV

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