Congratulations to Steve Clarkson and team for the success of the Start Point Project in the Duke of Edinburgh prize.

Steve and a number team members received their runners-up awards in November at Buckingham Palace from His Royal Highness!

Three groups led by BSAC divers – winners Black Bream Project, runner up Start Point Project and highly commended Operation Man-O-War – were honoured for their significant achievements in diving expeditions.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s prize for the British Sub-Aqua Jubilee Trust is awarded each year to the best underwater scientific projects carried out by members, in recognition of their work exploring, surveying and documenting historic wreck sites.

Steve Clarkson explains more about the project below.

Over the past 40 years both myself and a colleague of mine, Neville Oldham, have been diving the south coast of Devon admiring the shipwreck ranging from those lost 3000 years ago to the modern day. We decided to carry out a few projects looking at individual wrecks as well as areas of the southwest coastline. Neville unfortunately died before seeing our project completed.

The Start Point project documents the research and surveys carried out by the team of divers and non divers from various British Sub Aqua Club branches investigating the inshore shipwrecks on the South Devon coast. This was limited to the turbulent waters between Start Point and Prawle Point. Initially the project involved the magnetic survey close to the shore in order to identify the exact position of the remains of any possible shipwreck and a Drone was used to film the inaccessible shoreline and shallow waters helping to identify any reefs that did not appear natural. Courses were also run on “marine archaeology” in order to train divers in the art of archaeology underwater. These were run by the Nautical Archaeological Society (NAS).

We searched the local churchyards for evidence of any crew lost at sea in the area to help with research as to who was on board at the time of the wrecking. This information helped us delve into the “National archives” and “Find my Past” as well as leading us to the log of the tea clipper “Gossamer” held in a university in Newfoundland. Other clues were found in local museums and artifacts held by local divers.

Researching events such as the “Blizzard of 1891” also provided information on the ships lost on the Devon coast in the blizzard.

One of the shipwrecks found was very similar to the “Cutty Sark” , built with a composite construction. She sank near Prawle Point in 1868 and some of the crew including the captain and his wife are buried in a local church. We documented the history of the “Gossamer” and her wrecking in a 50 page booklet.

You can view the drone footage at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQNEWA_CL8M

Since the event, the project has received local publicity with articles in local newspapers and a 3 min talk on Radio Devon.

http://www.kingsbridge-today.co.uk/article.cfm?id=108450&headline=VIDEO:%20Team%20that%20mapped%20shipwrecks%20between%20Start%20Point%20&%20Prawle%20Point%20given%20royal%20award&sectionIs=news&searchyear=2016

http://www.torquayheraldexpress.co.uk/drone-footage-reveals-south-devon-s-forgotten-shipwrecks/story-30004061-detail/story.html