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Department for Culture Media and Sport

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Department for Culture acts to protect the 'wheel wreck' site off the Isles of Scilly


Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell today took action to protect the remains of a cargo of 19th Century Cornish mining equipment discovered by local divers off Little Ganinick in the Isles of Scilly in 2005.


Her decision to ‘designate’ the well preserved remains, under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973, follows a recommendation from English Heritage.

The Order will protect the remains – and the 75m area around them – and will prevent accidental damage.

Culture Minister David Lammy said:

“These rare and well-preserved remains represent one of the most significant periods in Cornwall’s history – when expansion of the mining industry during the 19th Century resulted in massive migration and the spread of Cornish culture throughout the world.  I am delighted that we can extend the proper protection to this site.”

The landscape of the Cornish mining industry was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status in July 2006.  This cargo represents a rare find of contemporary mining equipment lost during transhipment.  The remains of the (as yet) unidentified ship, which is believed to have capsized and sunk nearby, remain undiscovered. 


Notes to Editors

1. The Secretary of State has power under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 to designate wreck sites which she is satisfied ought to be  protected from unauthorised interference on account of their archaeological, historical or artistic importance. Before making a designation order, the Secretary of State is required to consult with appropriate persons (unless she is satisfied that the order should be made as a matter of immediate urgency). Once designated, it is a criminal offence for a person to interfere with the site except under the authority of a licence.

2. The designation of the ‘Wheel Wreck’ brings the total number of UK historic wrecks sites designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 to 60

3. English Heritage is the Government’s advisor on all aspects of the historic environment in England. The National Heritage Act (2002) enabled English Heritage to assume responsibilities for maritime archaeological sites of all types from low water out to the 12 nautical mile (nm) territorial limit around England. The Act also allows the Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport to direct English Heritage to also undertake functions relating to the Advisory Committee for Historic Wreck Sites and the archaeological diving contract. Accordingly, English Heritage may defray or contribute towards the cost of the preservation and maintenance of the 45 historic wreck sites designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 around England..

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