The top 20 - these are Britain's most unforgettable wrecks. Kendall McDonald warms to his task of rating them as we approach the grand climax!
1210-ton three-masted iron sailing ship, built 1874. 214ft x 36ft. Cargo: General, including much pottery and glass, London for Wellington, New Zealand. Position: 50 26.56N; 02 50.65W. Depth: 52m.
Sunk: 11 September, 1877, in collision with 1488-ton Forest, another sailing ship. Three of 97 Avalanche crew jumped to safety on Forest, which later foundered, with nine crew saved. Public subscriptions raised money to build church at Southwell as memorial.
Diving: Upright, 4m proud, slight list to port. Badly damaged port side near bow, which is twisted to starboard. Collapsed stern marked by champagne bottles. Pottery spilling from holds. Wreck found by Bingham divers in 1984. One anchors was raised and is displayed at the Avalanche Memorial Church, with beautiful pottery recovered by divers.
Launch: Lyme Regis; Weymouth.
2702-ton Elder Dempster steamer, built 1891. 328ft x 39ft. 253hp triple-expansion engines. Cargo: Hundreds of cases of gin, rum, champagne and barrels of gunpowder. Hamburg to West Africa. Tales of thousands of newly minted shillings aboard not borne out by manifest. Position: 51 08 57N; 01 24 43E. Depth: 20m.
Sunk: 31 May, 1908, after being badly damaged on port side near engine room in collision with Russian steamer Junona. Sank under tow of Dover tugs.
Diving: Upright and 7m proud. Sweeping and collision damage have exposed engines. Bell recovered. Bottles everywhere, but contents undrinkable. Very popular Kent site. Local divers Paul Wilkinson, Peter Lee and Mick Lucas own salvage rights.
Launch: St Margaret's at Cliffe.
3274-ton barquentine-rigged iron steam yacht, built 1879. 334ft x 40ft. 412hp triple-expansion engines. Cargo: 113 passengers on one of first-ever package tours, 105 crew, London for nine Mediterranean ports. Position: 50 48.55N; 00 50.53E. Depth: 32m.
Sunk: 29 September, 1908 in collision in fog with 2355-ton steamer Kingswell. All saved.
Diving: On even keel, 10m proud. Remarkably intact. Stern attractive, with castle effect from 4ft-square windows. Some salvage work done - condensers removed, to surprise of owners, divers John Nightingale, Ian O'Riley and Malcolm Ilott. Look, but do not take. Beware silting and trawl nets.
17 DUKE OF BUCCLEUGH
3099-ton four-masted iron steamer, built 1874. 380ft x 38ft. 500hp engines.
Cargo: 600 tons hand-painted Belgian china and glassware, 2533 tons of iron rails and machinery, Middlesbrough and Antwerp for Madras. Position: 50 29.50N; 00 26.03W. Depth: 58m.
Sunk: 7 March, 1889 in night collision with 1478-ton sailing ship Vandalia. All 47 crew of Duke of Buccleugh lost.
Diving: Upright and 8m proud. Masts lying across it. Large split in starboard side close to bridge is collision damage, suggesting it was rammed by Vandalia and not, as its captain stated, the other way round. China and glass-ware in holds mostly broken, but some intact pieces can be found. Viz usually good.
6889-ton four-masted liner, built 1897as Cleopatra. 482ft x 52ft. 894hp triple-expansion engines. Cargo: 1280 tons general, including 3000 slabs of tin, spirits, beer, linoleum, prunes, matches, cheese, nutmeg, preserves, jute, rice, books, coffee, toys, lard, pepper, tobacco, bacon, horse hair, furniture, lace, church ornaments. 53 passengers, 103 crew, London for New York. Position: 50 03.33N; 05 02.67W Depth: 26m.
Sunk: 14 October, 1898 by striking Manacle Rocks (first Vase, then Voices) when steering wrong course after passing the Eddystone.
Diving: Boilers at deepest part. Bow shallower at 23m. Hull collapsed, leaving ribs and shallow compartments, but items still being found. Dive only at slack; strong tides.
14,294-ton twin-screw Polish liner converted by Admiralty to troopship at start of WWII, built 1935. 526ft x 70ft. 2516hp diesel engines. Armed: AA guns. Cargo: In ballast, Tyne for Australia. Position: 53 45.75N; 00 45.67E. Depth: 33m.
Sunk: 26 November, 1939 after striking German mine 25 miles off Withernsea. 10 crew lost.
Diving: Biggest Yorkshire wreck. Bow section 9m proud, broken off and listing 45¡ to port. Embossed letters of name on starboard side. Three decks to explore - with care. Stern upright, but more broken, 5m proud. Both props buried in shingle. Beware very strong currents on seabed and overfalls above.
Launch: Hull; Bridlington; Scarborough.
12,358-ton British P & O liner, built 1911. Used as royal yacht for Delhi celebrations of coronation of King George V. 550ft x 63ft. Armed: 1914. 1164hp quadruple-expansion engines. Cargo: General, including copper ingots, India for London. Position: 50 12.42N; 03 32.18W. Depth: 60m.
Sunk: 28 April, 1917 by torpedo in starboard side from UB-31. Six engine-room crew killed, 411 passengers and crew saved.
Diving: Upright, 15¡ list to port. Reasonably intact despite salvage of copper and passengers' baggage from forward holds. Stern most damaged and sinking into mud of seabed. Bulkheads collapsing, compartments folding down.
Launch: Salcombe; Dartmouth.
5531-ton German light cruiser, built 1917. 510ft x 47ft. 31000hp coal/oil-fired turbines. Armed: 8 x 5.9in, 2 x 3.4in AA guns, four torpedo tubes, 200 mines, 559 crew. Position: 58 52.98N; 03 18.37W. Depth: 34m.
Sunk: 21 June, 1919 when scuttled by crew in Scapa Flow.
Diving: Largely intact, lying on her port side. Bow covered in growth. Anchor chains out. Foremast on seabed. On starboard side of intact bridge is a 5.9in gun turret, gun facing forward. Stern intact with gun turrets in place. Condensers salvaged, leaving hole where three funnels used to be.
Launch: Houton; Stromness.
12 JAMES EAGAN LAYNE
7176-ton US Liberty ship, built 1944. 441ft x 57ft. 2500hp triple-expansion engines. Armed: Bow and stern guns, plus 5 AA. Cargo: 4500 tons war supplies, tank parts, lorries, jeeps, railway rolling stock, US Army engineers' stores, New York for Ghent, via Barry. Position: 50 19.53N; 04 14.70W. Depth: 24m.
Sunk: 21 March, 1945, after hit in starboard side by torpedo from U-1195. Beached after being towed by Admiralty tugs into Whitsand Bay.
Diving: Upright, starboard side collapsing. Easy entry to Nos 1 and 2 holds, which hold many railway rolling stock wheels. Ribs intact. Main engine now covered by fallen decking. Port side a vast sheet of white anemones. Stern broken off by No 5 hold and linked by rope ÒbridgeÓ to main wreckage. This wreck is so popular that local boats run shuttle service!
Launch: Plymouth Sound.
11,140-ton New Zealand Shipping Company triple-screw three-deck liner, built 1910. 484ft x 62ft. Armed: 4.7in on stern. Cargo: 5600 tons general New Zealand goods, Wellington via Newport News for London, 238 passengers. Position: 50 18.47N; 02 59.73W. Depth: 55m.
Sunk: 22 March, 1917, by torpedo from UC-17. One crew-member killed.
Diving: 11m proud, upright, slight list to port, intact fore and aft. Much collapsed amidships and around engine room, which leaves six-cylinder steam engines showing well clear. Bell recovered.
Launch: Lyme Regis.
Appeared in DIVER - December 1999.