River wrecks 'add character'

ROTTING wrecks in the River Deben at Woodbridge should not be removed because they add character to the view, according to an online survey.But opinions still remain divided about the future of the wrecks that litter the river between Woodbridge and Melton.

ROTTING wrecks in the River Deben at Woodbridge should not be removed because they add character to the view, according to an online survey.

But opinions still remain divided about the future of the wrecks that litter the river between Woodbridge and Melton.

A poll was carried out by Linn Barringer, of Woodbridge, on his website http://woodbridgesuffolk.info. He said: ''After a stroll along the Deben, photographing many of the wrecks to be found rotting away in the mud, I thought I would see what others thought of them - are they an eyesore or do they add character?''

A total of 71 votes were cast, with 48 in favour of the wrecks and 19 describingg them as an eyesore. Four votes were from people who expressed no particular view.


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In 1996 campaigners called for the removal of wrecks but the plans floundered when the cost was estimated at up to £50,000.

Three years ago four old boats were removed by Suffolk Coastal District Council in association with the River Deben Association and the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Unit.

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The wrecks can be dangerous for rowers, swimmers and boats but some people think they add charm to the riverside.

A survey conducted in 2000 by Robert Simper, of Ramsholt, found the wreckage of lifeboats, inshore fishing boats, an 83ft Thames sailing barge reputed to have taken part in the 1940 Dunkirk Evacuation, a Bailey bridge converted to a houseboat, cargo craft and a dredger.

Mr Simper, vice chairman of the River Deben Association, said yesterday: ''I am in favour of keeping them although some of them are not very lovely.

''When I conducted my survey I said at the time we did not know in the future what people would be interested in. I know that in the area where I live lots of Second World War stuff has been cleared away, and now people are fascinated by the war.

''It is a job to know which wrecks to keep but if they are in a place where the public would be in danger, then they should be cleared away.

''But if they are not, then I think they add a bit of charm particularly if it is an interesting boat that people know.

''People will dump boats and have done since time immemorial and it would be interesting to know what is under the mud in Woodbridge.''

A spokeswoman for the district council said: ''The river bed is owned by the Crown Estates and our lease with them expired on the 31 March 2006, therefore we no longer have responsibility for it.

''During the course of our lease we did organise various clean up events including the removal of some wrecks.''

A helicopter was once called in to lift wreckage from the river at Melton and in 1996 a group of journalists had to be towed ashore when a thick rope from a wreck became entangled round the boat's propeller on a trip to look at the wrecks.

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