Blog: Dave LeggettGlobalisation washes up on a beach

Dave Leggett | 23 January 2007

The container ships that carry goods around the world are pretty phenomenal bits of hardware in terms of the sheer quantities they carry over long distances and how they do it (loading and offloading is no mean feat). A container ship has got into trouble off the south coast of England and some containers have gone over the side to be washed up on the beaches. What’s inside them? A real range of things by all accounts, including BMW motorbikes, car parts and even knocked down car kits for assembly in South Africa.

There is something primeval about the way the story of ‘the ship’ disgorging its load has captured people’s imaginations here. It’s a talking point in the office today.

It certainly didn’t take long for news of the ‘free’ (well, insurance companies are the main losers) booty to spread, hundreds of people combing the beach and forcing the containers open, working in teams even, to secure the goods. From the TV footage I saw, it looked like a ramshackle bunch of people roaming the beaches for anything they could get (look - nappies!), not organised criminal gangs.

For those that don’t know, the rocky southwestern peninsula of England has a long history of shipwrecks and a tradition of the locals plundering the cargo and having the moral and legal authority to do so under so-called wreckers’ rights (it’s no longer a legal right to plunder wrecks though). Once upon a time, ships were even helped onto the rocks by locals with the clever use of lights and whole villages subsequently enjoyed a festival on the wreckers’ proceeds.

Funny to reflect on how we are occasionally served reminders that people don’t actually change all that much through the ages.

Graeme Roberts has put together a nice summary, below link - a bit of light relief. For pics, go here.

UK: Beached BMW bike bonanza


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