MVS Severn make Historic Discovery


Earlier in the year we reported that members of MVS Severn had pulled a large unidentified object out of the River Avon near Tewkesbury Lock.

The item​ which is made of wood with metal bands and a large metal ring has remained a mystery ever since until a visit to Portsmouth Dockyard after the MVS AGM.

Head of Seamanship, Tim Huckvale spotted what was called a Coppering Punt or Balsa Raft on the deck of HMS Warrior and realised that the float from this was identical to what the Unit had found earlier in the year.

Tim said, “Balsa Rafts were originally found mainly in the Pacific, constructed from Balsa Wood and were adopted by the Royal Navy from the 1790’s.
They were made in three sizes and were used for cleaning copper sheathing on the waterline of ships and for general maintenance”.

Head of Unit Nic Price said, “We were very excited to identify our mystery object and on further research we discovered that 66 of these rafts were made in 1942 for battleships during the Second World War and the construction was of timbers with cast iron hoops just as we had found.
We suspect that one of these was acquired by a Tewkesbury Boat Builder who used it in a similar manner to which a Painter’s Flat is used today”.