Essex

The London: Shipwreck collection to 'rival best in country'

Shoe Image copyright The London Shipwreck Trust
Image caption This leather shoe was brought up by diver Steve Ellis at the end of July

A diver who has helped to recover "thousands of items" from a 17th Century shipwreck has said the finds "rival the best collections" in the country.

The London sank off Southend-on-Sea in 1665 and was only rediscovered in 2005.

Artefacts salvaged from the wreck since 2010 have included shoes, pieces of instruments and a compass.

Steven Ellis, a licensed diver from Leigh-on-Sea, said the finds were remarkably well-preserved.

Mr Ellis, who works as a fishmonger, said The London was the last surviving "large ship" built between 1642 and 1660 for the Anglo/Dutch War from "such an important period of time".

'Human remains found'

An estimated 300 people drowned when the ship mysteriously exploded on a journey along the coast to Gravesend and sank on 8 March 1665.

Mr Ellis said: "I've been diving it since 2010 and we've brought loads of bits up.

"We've found two gun carriages, all kinds of personal items like shoes, a compass - loads of stuff.

"You can see by the shoe how well-preserved things are."

Image copyright The London Shipwreck Trust
Image caption Steve Ellis' wife Carol found what is thought to be a violin peg among the wreckage of The London

"When they eventually go on display, there is going to have to be a whole wing of the museum for them," he said.

Mr Ellis, who worked closely with teams from Historic England, said he had found a number of human remains during his exploration of the ship.

He said: "It's like detective work. It's not just diving and bringing stuff up, it's putting the artefacts together, working out where you are, what it would have been like.

Image copyright Touch Productions
Image caption A reconstruction of how The London would have looked before she sank

"I'm no expert but we have got experts around us. I always say it's like a Sunday League footballer being phoned up by the Premiership."

Southend Museum Service is intending to put the exhibits on display and planning on making finds from The London a key part of a new museum on the seafront, when it eventually opens.

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