Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Recognising our heritage

It's good to loot. That's what the fine people of Devon and Cornwall are saying right now. That's because they have a strong sense of tradition, something I'm sure every red coated fox hunter, and flag waving royalist will be commending.

Large ship pitching
A massive container ship, the MSC Napoli, has spilled its load of massive metal boxes which seem to contain anything and everything. Cars, motorbikes, nappies, barrels of wine and personal possessions. There's a whole miscellany of object d'art and tat, all for the taking.

The press is full of condemnation. These people are stealing. This is just greed. Why wont they stay away and be sensible? Why wont the police stop them?

The beaches are strewn with flotsamThe thing that all the papers and commentators seem to have missed out on though is this is Devon and Cornwall and in the 18th and 19th Century smuggling was a more economically important than fishing [1] and salvaging the cargo of wrecked ships was an important source of income for many who lived on the Cornish coast.

I was absolutely delighted when I heard the story of the two (possibly) Cornish men who'd rowed out to the enormous vessel and returned with their craft stacked to the point of recklessness with barrels of French wine. It's been a long time since that scene has been recreated - perhaps they should join the Sealed Knot.

The sad thing is that so many people are allowing these proud traditions to slip from our folk memory, and these brave souls, purely out of that sense of history have risked life and limb to keep the flame burning bright - I salute you.


AN said...

Actually, my friends in Cornwall tell me that smugglling is still a very large part of the local economy, with for example heroin and Cocaine brought in through harbours like Looe.

The result of which is a very high level of drug addiction in the county.

mich said...

Wreck scavanging, well known tradition to a Guernsey girl, lol

badmatthew said...

I thought they were all from Essex.

Derek Wall said...

the wreck is in Devon, isn't it, I am too busy to get my counties right

The Sentinel said...

I am not entirely sure, but I think the legal position is different when recovering 'salvage' as opposed to looting.

I think there is special dispensations for it, as most salvage will wasted and it washes up on shore rather then the traditional window smash and grab of looting.

If I had the spare time I think I would have headed down there for a bit of 'beach cleaning' myself.

a very public sociologist said...

They was a brilliant interview on News 24 yesterday.

The couple, obviously Relocation, Relocation, Relocation types not raised in the area bemoaned the people of "murky origins" descending upon "their" beach. The woman added she was sure the beach combers were organised criminals.

'Twas priceless.

Jim Jay said...

Derek - you are right it is in Devon. The initial report I saw said Cornwall, but then later I saw maps and it clearly is on the Devon coast, the sentiment of the post still applies of course. Only a few miles to the East.

Sent - as it has been explained to me it is not illegal to take stuff away and you have 28 days to fill in a form. However, the stuff is not yours and the original owner has to decide what to do with it. You are just keeping it safe for them officially.

I doubt many forms will get filled in

Anonymous said...

You know a family lost all their stuff on that beach. And saw it all being looted by those on the beach?

Jim Jay said...

You know it's possible to put a name on your comments?