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FMHT Maritime Archive sets sail

The latest Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust initiative goes live today on the Trust’s website, as the first step in an effort to create a definitive Falkland Islands’ wrecks and other vessels of interest database which can be accessed globally by anyone who is interested in the maritime history of the islands.

The new archive can be used in conjunction with an updated and significantly improved interactive Wreck Hunters Map, which the Trust introduced as a novel way to discover and explore wrecks and vessels that are connected to the Falklands in some way.  New features on the map include the ability to zoom in so closely to wrecks that you can even see them when they have disappeared from sight below the water.

It is estimated that there are between 150 and 200 wrecks in and around the islands. Many of them date back to the 18th and 19th century, when the age of sail ruled the seas and cargo and passenger ships braved the perils of rounding the Horn.  Although there have been millions of words written about these vessels, by thousands of people, there isn’t a single database that students, historians and scholars can access to check their facts and accurately locate last resting places.

The FMHT MARITIME ARCHIVE is compiled and curated by Peter Beardmore, a retired computer systems manager and former resident of the Falkland Islands who has dedicated the rest of his life to creating an organised database of vessels that have foundered or sunk in and around the islands through the ages. Although Peter’s aim is to ‘separate fact from fiction’ in this archive, it is, in Peter’s words “A best endeavours work-in-continual-progress undertaking”, which will inevitably have “errors and omissions”.

Peter’s lifelong interest in Falklands ships and shipping began when he was a young boy (pictured here) and he and his mates spent their days climbing over the wreck of the Jhelum.  In those days, recalls Peter, now 75, the vessel was used to store “aviation fuel”.  He had arrived in Stanley from the UK when his father, a joiner, got a three-year contract to work in the islands.  His family “liked it so much” they returned for another three-year contract and Peter didn’t leave, to join the Meteorological Office in the UK, until he was 17.

So far Peter has chronicled 42 Falklands wrecks either lost or condemned, between 1774 and 1845, and a further 14 in South Georgia, between 1817 and 2003.  More will follow as the Trust initiative gathers pace.

Says Saul Pitaluga, FMHT Trustee: “It is important to get our maritime history right and Peter Beardmore’s work will play an invaluable role in ensuring that this new maritime archive is as accurate and definitive as it can be. Used in conjunction with our existing but now much improved Wreck Hunter Map visitors to our website will now be able to explore even the remnants of vessels that lie around our shores, unlocking their exciting and dramatic stories. It will also enable us to feature many more vessels in other parts of the world that have a strong connection with the Falklands.”

Explore the FMHT Maritime Archive