1828; Chesil beach gives up her riches.

Now, if you’ve ever been stood on Chesil beach and watched nature’s fury as she crashes in on this huge pebbled bank, you’ll know why treasure hunters love to visit after a storm.


West Bay was referred to  as ‘Deadman’s Bay’ by our own world renown local author, Thomas Hardy, and for very good reason.

Numerous ship  have come to grief here over the centuries, wrecks litter the sea floor from one end to the other.

As much as today’s treasure hunters search the shoreline with their electronic gagetry, so did the men and women of day’s past with nothing but their eyes to seek out those shiny nuggets that would make their fortune.

In December of 1828 there had been a huge storm which sent the waves rolling into the bay, and surging up the steep banks. The wily Portlanders knew this was the best time to search for dead mans booty, they weren’t to be disappointed! As the waves still pounded the shoreline, men and women scoured along the beach, dodging the fierce wash, for anything valuable the sea might have dredged up.

That day they struck gold…literally! Silver and gold coins, even bullion bars…


A ship from Amsterdam had gone down out in the bay 80 years earlier, on the 16th February 1748, she had contained £50,000 of gold bullion, and it seems that each year a few of these bars were washed ashore during the storms. Over the years numerous riches were washed ashore after each storm, gold guineas, fresh from the mint of George III, dollars from King Philip V of Castile and Leon, a Spanish gold watch chain….No wonder these men and women frequently risked their very lives in the search for the elusive Davy Jones’s treasures.

On that day, two of those intrepid beachcombers came so close to their hearts desire. Dodging the violent, rolling waves they had espied a cache of golden coins revealed from the scouring waters, hastily scraping them them up together in a pile for collection…but to no avail, what Davy Jones released at a whim of nature, he took away,  an enormous wave rolled in ,crashing down on that very spot, covering the loot with tons of shingle.

So near, but so far. Who knows what lies under the shingle these days, some of which may be revealed at the next storm.


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I have a huge collection that cover illustrations from numerous Victorian articles about travel, prisons, children’s homes, poverty, philanthropy…
Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many more, including local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.


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