Branscombe as a whole survived very well during Napoli says parish chairman

End of Napoli salvage. Picture by Simon Horn

End of Napoli salvage. Picture by Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Branscombe’s parish chairman has paid tribute to the village’s ‘stoic’ residents in the week that marked 10 years since the Napoli disaster.

John Bass said the incident has been ‘embedded’ in his memory for the last decade, which saw the world’s media put the village ‘on the map’ during the two-year clear-up.

Mr Bass, a builder, was off work for a week in the wake of the 900-foot-long ship beaching off the village’s shores, speaking to the world’s media about the incident.

The chairman said: “I felt that I was the representative of the village. I met the Receiver of the Wreck on the Monday to ask if there any clean-up was going to be in place then, and all the way through up to the public inquiry.”

During the week, the village became gridlocked with vehicles trying to lay claim to items washed up from containers lost from the ship.

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Emergency services worked to contain the situation and were granted powers to close the roads into the village and implement a one-way system.

A public meeting a few days later took place between all the agencies involved with the clear-up about how they would proceed with the operation.

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Mr Bass, who has been parish chairman for 14 years, said: “I think the village as a whole survived very well; all the residents were quite stoic about it all. Some of them now look back at it fondly. It was one of those things that put Branscombe on the map.”

Devon County Council led an inquiry later in the year, which Mr Bass felt resulted in ‘lessons being learnt’ from the incident.

Mr Bass said: “As far as I can understand, the police and the authorities have the ability now to close off places if something happens again, whereas it was a bit of a misty area at the time of the Napoli.

“That is a positive that has come out of it. Maybe lessons have been learned and policies have been put in place if it happens again.”

Following the clear-up operation, a commemorative anchor was installed in front of the Sea Shanty car park.

This April, the Branscombe Project will host an exhibition to mark the anniversary featuring memorabilia and booklets about the event. The display will be held in the village hall from April 8 to 10.

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