Exploring an historic wreck

The Amsterdam SUS-150109-133944001
The Amsterdam SUS-150109-133944001

Bexhill Museum’s latest guided walk on Sunday looked at the story of the Dutch East India vessel the Amsterdam

Dave Hatherall explained: “The walk commenced from the top of Galley Hill to the shipwreck site itself in the sand off Bulverhythe.

“The Amsterdam was an 18th-century cargo ship of the Dutch East India Company. She was on her maiden voyage from Texel in the Netherlands to Java with a cargo mainly of wine, cloth and a considerable amount of silver bullion.

“The ship was commanded by 33 year-old Captain Willem Klump with over 300 crew and soldiers on board. The ship made two attempts to sail but returned to port due to adverse winds. On her third attempt the ship ran into a very severe gale in the English Channel and got into difficulties off Beachy Head which resulted in the loss of the rudder.

“Fifty of the crew had already died of an unknown disease, probably the Black Death, and many others became ill; very soon the crew mutinied. The ship finally ran aground in the mud and sand at Bulverhythe on January 26 1749.

“The crew broke into the wine store to drown their sorrows and news of the wreck quickly spread leading to some looting by local residents. Troops were called in to try and maintain order. One man was shot on the beach.

“Some of the silver bullion was removed for safekeeping but what happened to the rest remains a mystery to this day.

“The surviving crew were looked after by local people and were finally returned to the Netherlands.

“In 1969 the Amsterdam was rediscovered, surveyed and partially excavated by Peter Marsden of the Shipwreck Museum, Hastings, and many of the ship’s finds can now be seen at the Museum.

“The shipwreck is protected under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1974 so diving on it or removing timbers or any artefacts is forbidden.

“There have been major excavations during 1984-1986 which retrieved more artefacts but the bulk of the vessel and its cargo lie stuck in the mud. The sunken keel is exposed on low spring or summer tides.

“Bexhill Museum’s next guided walk will be to discover royal visits to Bexhill on Sunday September 13 meeting at 2pm at the Manor House car park, Old Town. £3 adults, £1.50 accompanied children. Sorry no dogs.”

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