24. The Concrete Jungle

I’m always keen to make links between terrestrial and maritime monuments, because the connections go beyond the obvious port and harbourside infrastructure, but I think today our key word is infrastructure in a wider sense.

Inevitably, many cargoes are those to do with building projects, and today’s example is one of these. It doesn’t actually involve a wreck as such. In July 1906 the Socoa struck some rocks near Cadgwith Cove, a moment when a wreck incident became a faraway casualty of a major event triggering worldwide headlines, the San Francisco earthquake of April 1906 – for she was laden with cement to help rebuild the city.

Fortunately she was refloated, even though she was clearly in a bad way. See this image here, where she is evidently awash at high water.

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Some sources say that the cargo was “jettisoned” to help get her off following the stranding, with some remaining in situ solidified underwater. However, the cargo is reported in a position about half a mile further east, off Enys Head. Either that position is incorrect, or the cargo was truly jettisoned rather than offloaded, as the ship must have been in difficulties before she struck the rocks.

There is, of course, a transmogrification process in place: from the cargo of cement as carried to the solidified concrete in the post-wreck phase . . .

If anyone knows anything about this underwater obstruction, do get in touch, as I am keen to build more evidence for the post-wreck archaeology!

This isn’t the only odd bit of concrete near Cadgwith, though. As part of the Defence of Britain anti-invasion database project some years ago, we recorded all sorts of pillboxes and tank traps, so here’s another nearby “funny lump of concrete”.

It comprises a WWII anti-tank trap at Cadgwith itself, angled so as to prevent any tanks from penetrating inland once they had caterpillared perpendicularly up the cliff. It would have been more logical to locate it below for beach defence, but it would, apparently, have been a hindrance to the local fishermen.

3 thoughts on “24. The Concrete Jungle

  1. I remember diving the Socoa barrels sometime during the 1980’s, very close to shore and I’m pretty certain in the location where the ship is pictured.

    1. Hello, that’s useful to know. Can I put your comment in the record for the vessel, please? We’re always happy to obtain more information to help build up a picture of the wrecks in the record. Thank you!

  2. The official plaque at the old life boat station nearby inaccurately says the Socoa was wrecked in 1886. It correctly says the ship was carrying cement to rebuild San Francisco after the earthquake but wrongly dates that event to 1902.

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