I am sitting at my keyboard with a bad head cold. I am not asking for sympathy, just using it as an excuse for any slightly woolly thinking. I like sitting here because - if it wasn't for 'ouses inbetween* - I could see the Thames Estuary. In fact if I go upstairs and hang dangerously out of my bedroom window I can see the Thames Estuary. If I sat on the roof of my house I could probably see all the way to the idyllic stretch of the Estuary that lies just off the beaches of Southend and almost see the area which 'houses' [probably not the right word but hey, I am poorly] the SS Richard Montgomery [Thanks to Wikipedia for this link. We supported your action yesterday and are very glad of your assistance today to share your knowledge]
Residents of the Essex and Kent land areas surrounding the stretch of the Thames Estuary where the Richard Montgomery lies on the sea bed have long been aware of the ship wreck and possible dangers it poses. There have been TV and radio programmes, numerous press articles since the American Liberty ship stacked full of explosives sunk in 1944 on how safe/unsafe the wreck is to the surrounding areas. A recent BBC Kent article in September 1911 commenced with the statement:
The threat of a significant structural collapse of a shipwreck full of explosives off Kent is getting more serious, the coastguard has said.
The photograph above is from the BBC Kent article and in the background can be seen the Southend shoreline. When I worked on the 8th floor of one of the office blocks in Southend in the late 1960s [I am that old but would like to point out I don't look it] there were sonic boom tests along the Thames Estuary for the Concorde programme, I believe these were carried out by the Royal Air Force English Electric Lightnings. There was much concern in the local press at the time that these 'booms' could set up waves that could cause explosions on the Richard Montgomery and we were told that we might have to evacuate our offices. I seem to remember extra fire drill which were not pleasant climbing down the outside of a tower block building....
There is a fantastic interactive map of the proposed airport sites on the Guardian website The map does not show the Richard Montgomery which is between Southend on the Essex side and Sheerness on the Kentside, nearer to the Kent side and frighteningly near one of the proposed Airport sites, Grain. The map also shows all the conservationist/wild life areas that would suffer by the building of the airport. There would obviously be concerns over the infra structure costs: rail/road links and more which would help in the decision making process. But for me the biggest question is what happens to the SS Richard Montgomery?
It is about time the concerns about the SS Richard Montgomery were addressed once and for all, and definitely before any more money is spent talking/investigating/researching any airport in the Thames Estuary.
*If it wasn't for 'ouses inbetween is a line from the Music Hall song sung by Gus Elen - 1899, which contains the lines:
Wiv a ladder and some glasses
You could see to 'Ackney Marshes
If it wasn't for the 'ouses in between
BTW is anyone wants any clues to whereabouts on the Thames Estuary I live here are a couple of literary clues:
1. Just about exactly the spot where Magwitch killed Compeyson in Great Expectations
2. Not far from the spot where The Nellie was anchored at the start of Heart of Darkness