More than 250 ships have been wrecked along the Gower coastline over the centuries; some of these can still be seen today. They are a reminder of the bitter sweet relationship between local people and the sea.
Ships were an important method of transporting goods to and from Gower before roads and railways took over. The sheer number of ships sailing in these waters meant that disasters were inevitable and shipwrecks were a common occurrence along the coast.
Wreckers and beachcombers
‘Wreckers’ is the name given to people who used to lure ships onto rocks in order to cause them to crash, so that the ships’ cargoes could be looted. They would sometimes set lanterns along the coast, which in the dark would make ships’ crews believe they were sailing towards a safe harbour. Once the ships had run aground on the rocks, the wreckers would take the goods and sell them on for profit.
Local people would also scavenge materials from the wrecks and re-use them. Many of the older houses in Gower feature wooden beams from ships that were found washed up on beaches. Sometimes they got lucky and found other treasures – for example, when the SS Blue Bell wrecked at Culver Hole in 1913, its cargo of coal was taken and used by local people to heat their homes.