UK news in brief: From commercial steamship to enquiry into WW2 deaths on Alderney

Europe’s first commercial steamship scheduled

Photo: Historic Environment Scotland

The wreck of the Comet – a wooden paddle steamer, created by Henry Bell in the early 19th century – has recently been designated as a scheduled monument by Historic Environment Scotland. It was built by John Wood & Sons in the Port of Glasgow in 1811-1812 to carry passengers between Port Glasgow and Helensburgh. After eight years of service, first on the Clyde, then on the Forth, and finally on a new Glasgow to Fort William service, the ship was wrecked off Craignish Point on 19 December 1820. It was not carrying any passengers at the time, and the crew, including Henry Bell, were all able to get safely to shore.

A dive survey by Wessex Archaeology in September 2021 found the remains and confirmed that they were from the front half of the Comet. While marine sites are usually designated as historic marine protected areas (MPAs) in Scotland, the decision was made to schedule the wreck as an interim measure until the Scottish Government can make a decision on its MPA status.

Major donation given to heritage training

The Hamish Ogston Foundation, a UK-based charity, has committed nearly £29 million to help train individuals around the world in heritage conservation. It is the largest-known single private donation for such training, and will fund up to 2,700 people in the UK and across the Commonwealth to help ease a decades-long skills shortage and hopefully help protect threatened sites in the UK and around the world well into the future. UK recipients of the grant include English Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, and the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship.

Government enquiry into Second World War deaths on Alderney

Lord Pickles, the UK’s Post Holocaust Issues Envoy, has recently announced that a review will take place into the Nazi occupation of the Channel Island of Alderney, focusing especially on identifying the ‘most accurate’ number of prisoners who may have died there. During the Second World War, the Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles to be occupied by Germany, during which period two work camps and two concentration camps were built in Alderney.

In conjunction with the review, a new website,, has been launched to update the public on any new findings.