Fairfield Museum hosts free shipwreck lecture

Sailors, boaters, history buffs and local residents are invited to learn the fascinating story of the Charles Cooper (1856), a local ship that ended with a shipwreck in the Falkland Islands. A discussion of the plight of the packet ship will take place at the Fairfield Museum on May 1, at 4 p.m. The event is co-sponsored by the Black Rock Historical Society.

The Charles Cooper of 1856 was a packet ship sailing between Black Rock, Bridgeport, New York and Antwerp. Many European emigrants were carried on the return voyage to seek a better life in the United States. In 1866, the Charles Cooper was declared unseaworthy and stranded at Stanley in the Falkland Islands.

The ship was converted for use as a storage hulk and beached on the Stanley shoreline where she remained a prominent and well-loved feature of the town for generations. In 2002, with the fast-deteriorating hulk posed a hazard to small shipping, the Falkland Islands Museum & National Trust was tasked with her removal. The extremely challenging project was completed by a small local team over the course of the winter and a substantial amount of the old ship was saved.

Speakers at the event are Robert Foley, President of the Black Rock Historical Society; Norman Brouwer, Maritime Historian; and Leona Roberts, Museum Manager, Falkland Islands Museum & National Trust, Historic Dockyard Museum. Ms. Roberts’ presentation will touch on the hulk’s role in Stanley, cover the removal project and discuss the future for the extraordinary artefacts from the Charles Cooper – “the last emigrant ship”. Mr. Bouwer completed three editions of the International Register of Historic Ships and led three expeditions to the Falkland Islands to record and stabilize the remains of 19th century sailing ships surviving there.

The event is free for Members and $5 for Non-Members. Light refreshments will be served. The Fairfield Museum is located at 370 Beach Road in Fairfield. For more information visit Fairfieldhistory.org or call 203-259-1598.

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