Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Welsh Wreck of Gold on ITV

A few months ago my Google alerts sent me a link to ITV's website.  A series about the sinking of the Royal Charter was airing and the link sent me episode one (which you can see by clicking here).  I sat down to watch and found it rather difficult.  The story is one of treasure-hunting and the thought of people rooting around the shipwreck that claimed the lives of so many people, including my 3rd great grandfather, seemed more than a bit disrespectful and morbid.

The episode centered around Gwenllian Jones who was born and raised in Anglesey, Wales, but had married and moved to Australia and treasure-hunter, Vincent Thurkettle.  Listening to Ms Jones at the beginning refer to the wreck as "romantic" was shocking.  Romantic?  A shipwreck?  Apparently she and I have completely different views on romance!  There's nothing romantic about a shipwreck that claimed the lives of so many people not to mention every single woman and child that was onboard!

Despite the rocky start to this episode of "The Welsh Wreck of Gold" I found it fairly interesting although not filled with too much information that I didn't already know...

-The Australian gold rush was focused in Victoria, Australia.

-The condition of the gold mines was harsh (shocker).

-The Royal Charter was one of the fastest ships of her time (ever notice that the best ships of the day always seem to end tragically?).

-The amount of gold on the Royal Charter was the equivalent of 80 million British pounds (sterling), but that was what was recorded as being on the ship.  They guesstimate that there was double that amount when you take into consideration what the passengers carried aboard in their luggage and on their person.  While the amount given in today's equivalency was news to me, the hiding/hoarding of gold among the passengers was not, and as I mentioned in my repost yesterday, this hiding of gold on the passengers no doubt contributed to their deaths.

-The Royal Charter remained in port in Melbourne for 2 additional days.  Had she left on time she most likely would have arrived safely in Liverpool.

-The wreck of the Royal Charter is considered one of the worst disasters in British maritime history (didn't know) and resulted in the starting of more formalized meteorology (knew).

-The storm was approximately 300 miles across and had winds in excess of 100 mph (knew about the winds, but not the size of the storm).

By the time the first episode of this series finished, I was certainly looking forward to the next episode. Sadly, it wasn't forthcoming on the ITV website and no DVD was available on the US or UK site for Amazon.com (hopes dashed).  I'll still go in search of the other episodes, but I wanted to get this post up to share since this is the anniversary week for the shipwreck.

Despite my initial distaste for the "romanticism" regarding such a horrible event, I had to ask myself if I would want to dive the wreckage if I had been given the chance.  I'll admit the thought is certainly tempting.  I think I would.  Just seeing video of the wreck was fascinating.  This is where Manus Boyle and so many others lost their lives.  So close to shore and with so much working against them ever reaching it.  Yes.  I think I would like to dive the wreck.  So many others have (apparently).  My only thought to Royal Charter treasure hunters is to please not disturb grandpa's eternal slumber in your quest for gold.