by Viv Head
The Bristol Channel has an incredibly rich maritime history, since men first went to sea in ships powered by the wind. Many were built locally – the Bristol Channel pilot cutters have a legendary reputation right across the world; seventeen original vessels still exist and modern ones are still being built.
John Cabot set sail from Bristol in the Matthew and discovered America while, at the other end of the scale, there are the small double-ended Somerset flatners fishing Bridgewater Bay.
At least three famous Antarctic exploration vessels loaded Welsh coal before heading south. The story of Scott’s Terra Nova is well known and the Scotia, which pioneered Antarctic exploration, was later wrecked and burnt out on Sully Island.
Bringing the story up to date is Challenge Wales, an around-the-world racing yacht now based in Cardiff and active in sail training and youth activity.
In between are a whole host of unsung vessels of all sizes, each with their own tale to tell.
This is a fascinating and well researched book with some excellent photos to back it up. I would very highly recommend it.
The Hill, Merrywalks, Stroud, Glos. GL5 4EP
Paperback: 235mm x 165mm, 96 pp illustrated