Published Jan 2010
A fine shipwreck has always represented sport, pleasure, treasure, and in many cases the difference between living well and just getting by. Though it is the Cornish who became most notorious for wrecking, coastal communities throughout Britain regarded the ‘sea’s bounty’ as an impromptu way of providing themselves with everything from grapefruits to grand pianos. Some plunderers were supposed to be so skilled that they could strip a ship from stem to stern before the Coastguard had left port, some were supposed to lure ships onto the rocks with false lights, some simply waited for winter gales to do their work.
From all around Britain, Bathurst has uncovered the secret history of ships and shipwreck victims, from shoreline orgies so dionysian that few participants survived until morning to crofts fitted with silver candelabra, and from coastlines rigged like stage sets to the strange tale of Britain’s Royal Fish. Spanning three hundred years of history, THE WRECKERS examines the myths, realities, and superstitions of shipwrecks, and uncovers the darker side of life on Britain’s island shores.