Jack Watkins finds a ship graveyard on the banks of the Severn going to ruin in a legislative no-man's land
They call them the Purton Hulks, a mile-and-a-half-long stretch of ghostly boat wrecks that once formed the oddest of makeshift tidal erosion barriers on the River Severn.
They include nothing of Mary Rose antiquity, but local marine historian Paul Barnett thinks they are precious just the same.
"What we have here is the largest boat graveyard in maritime Britain, but they have no protection whatsoever. I cannot understand that," he says.
Between 1909 and 1963, at least 80 vessels were beached at Purton, originating from a stormy night 100 years ago when there was a massive landslip in a bank between the river and the parallel Sharpness to Gloucester Canal.
A plea went out to commercial boat owners for old vessels to be run aground to plug the breach.