Over 167 Years Old Rare Ceramics Retrieved From A 19th Century Shipwreck In Kent

A cargo of rare ceramics crockeries from a 19th-century shipwreck has been listed for protection in a significant development. The shipwreck found in Kent has been protected for 167 years. The wreck was deciphered in 2018.

Josephine Willis was on its way to New Zealand from Britain when it sank. The 1854-built ship was made in Limehouse by HH Willis & Co. On February 3, 1856, the ship sank after it collided with the Mangerton steamer, taking the lives of 70 people, including the captain, Edward Canney. 

The wreck lies in the seabed at a depth of 23 metres in two parts. 

19th century shipwreck with ceramics
Image for representation purposes only

The discovered ceramics are unique as they have unknown patterns worthy of a museum. Many of them are lying intact in crates. Bowls, plates and cups made by the potters of Davenport, Charles Meigh and Mexborough have been found. These are the principal potteries of 19th-century England. 

The ship had been on a voyage to New Zealand earlier. At that time, the ship’s crew revolted against the masters. The mutiny resulted in the 12 of them being let off the ship in Auckland while the rest were dismissed in Calcutta. 

On its second voyage, it had mistaken a light from a steamer as a lighthouse light and collided with the steamer while adjusting the course. The collision cut the ship into two halves and killed 70 people. Some survived. 

The great-great-great-grandson of Edward Canney, the captain of the ship, expressed his happiness over this new discovery and how the wreck is being protected, adding that he has been carrying out his own research regarding the ship and its people and the tragedy that unfolded.

Marine archaeologists have underlined that ceramics are mostly common mass-produced goods used by European settlers. They are plain looking, so it’s not much of interest to museums and collectors. 

In that way, they are essential to chronicling the lives of Victorian emigrants as it isn’t part of any museum collections’ and fills the gap. 

References: The Guardian, Scoop Culture Independent News


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