In late-2006 my colleague Keith Langridge came across an interesting report about the remains of HMS Beagle, the survey ship of Charles Darwin. Subsequent to an extensive search through documentary evidence its final resting place was determined and we began to survey the inland waterways of the county of Essex to find the remains of the wreck.
They were eventually discovered at the far end of a creek, resting in mud not far from the remains of a barn which had been built from some of the surviving timbers. The remains of the ship had been purchased by two Essex cocklers who built a barn from the good timbers and sank the remains of the Beagle’s keel with stones in a nearby creek to act as a base for a nursery for cockle breeding. The wreck lies in very shallow water but not observable from the shore even at low tide. The barn was destroyed during the second world war by US troops training with bazookas prior to D-Day.
Merlindown has had divers at the site and we are confident that these are the remains of Darwin’s Beagle. It is hoped in the near future to get a dendrochronologist to take a sample for analysis before announcing her discovery.