A furniture recycler has produced a poignant reminder of a maritime tragedy.
Megan Yardley, who runs a painted furniture business called Mole & Velvet, recently acquired a desk that had belonged to George Horace Thompson, captain of the Arkendale H tanker barge that was involved in the Severn Railway Bridge disaster of 1960, and has painted the railway bridge and the barge on it.
In thick fog the Arkendale H collided with another tanker barge, the Wastdale H, and in a tragic series of events the vessels collided with a support of the former railway bridge, which ran from Sharpness to Lydney. Two spans of the bridge collapsed into the river and in doing so struck the barges, causing a massive explosion. Five sailors died in the events of that fateful October night, though Captain Thompson survived the disaster.
“I was personally gifted the writing desk by the late George Thompson’s daughter who thought it would be a shame to just throw the desk away, (as it was a bit tired and well loved), and she knew I’d be able to put it to good use and give it a lease of new life,” explained Megan.
“It is all hand painted by me and I really enjoy the idea that with each piece of vintage furniture I transform, that there is often a story behind it… and this tragic story just seemed so poignant I felt I had to add the connection to George’s past career onto his old desk as a tribute to him.”
The remains of the Arkendale H and Wastdale H are still visible at low tide in the River Severn off Purton.
The desk is for sale at Megan’s Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/1268634442/crown-supply-vintage-office-desk