Richard Larn OBE

I was asked what 'my' problem is with Richard Larn OBE. Well to answer this we have to go way back to 2001 and take it from there. Also- this stuff needs to be recorded or else the misinformation goes on being given out in the books that are continually sold by him everyday. In other words- here is a compilation of incidents whereby I feel projects and myself have been misrepresented. Paranoia? -well judge for yourselves- For me it all started with me placing artifacts from the wreck of the SS Schiller into the local museum here at Scilly. Soon after the items went on display a letter dropped through my door, claiming that Messers Richard Larn & David Mcbride were the legal owners of these artifacts and that I was to hand the material over to them as a result. (Incidentally-Mr Larn was/is a trustee of the afore mentioned institution)  Further to this, I was told to stop diving the wreck or be served with an injunction. Now this has always been a free wreck for anyone to dive before- but when they then published in a book entitled 'Shipwrecks of North Cornwall & the isles of Scilly'- that Mr Larn and his associate were legal salvors of this wreck, and that anyone wanting to dive it had to gain their permission to do so beforehand, well this was a step too far.  As a result, I chose to fight their claim over the wreck -and- after much correspondence between us- I feel that I had triumphed. My artifacts from the wreck site became my legal property and this gaining legal title to the material signaled an end to the fight. Thus it all stayed on display in the local museum and anyone can freely dive the SS Schiller today. (Sadly, one of my gold coins from this wreck later went missing from the museum. (The trustees say 'misplaced' but I think stolen) and although my loss was compensated-what happened to that coin still remains a mystery. It was the museum that lost out.) -but I have digressed.

We now move on to the Crim wreck. (See my pages for further info on this) All alone underwater I mapped this deep cannon site for over two years and believe that I had produced the first accurate representation of the site  since its discovery by Roland Morris in the 1970's.  Mr Larn reported in a Museum newsletter that, using a small ROV, he had completed his plan of this same wreck site. My plan had come back from being copied by the Monuments Record Office, with the original copy having been given to the same museum.  Now, I know nothing of Mr Larns work on this wreck site. Certainly, I never once saw him visit the site during the two years that I was physically diving on it myself -and I was out there at every window of opportunity; which are limited given the exposed position and depth of this wreck. Personally, I think the capability's of his little ROV were questionable for this type of work -but maybe it did do the job -I dont know. However, the only evidence of his work on this site, that I have actually seen, are thus- Mr Larn  published in his book 'Shipwrecks of North Cornwall & the isles of Scilly', that the Crim site contained 15 to 20 cannon. There are in fact 24 guns and 3 anchors. Mr Larn also published an image of some coins that he claimed in his book had come from this very same Crim wreck site.  However, I can categorically state that he was mistaken in this too. The coins in his book, in fact came from the wreck of the Earl of Abergavenny which is over 100 miles away in Weymouth bay.

Heres the image of the coins that Mr Larn 'mistakenly' used in his book.

Incidentally,  Earl of Abergavenny Wrecksite Project leader, Ed Cumming, still has these same coins in his possession today. Below is an image from Ed of some of those same coins. Ed was not best pleased about his coins being misrepresented by Mr Larn in his book. To be continued......................................................

We now move on to the wreck of the Nancy Packet. This was a very worthwhile and satisfying project that Ed Cumming and I worked at together for a couple of years. We put in a lot of effort; lifted and identified English made items of a late 18th century English wreck that fitted the size and age of the Nancy Packet. We won an award from the Nautical Archaeological Society for our efforts after we published a book about the project. Not long after this occurred,  Mr Larn, then wrote a book entitled- 'The Wrecks of Scilly'  In that book Mr Larn suggests that he had dived the above wreck site - and that he believed it to be a mid 19th century Dutch ship called the Nickerie. To support his claim, he published a picture of some coins that he says he had recovered from the wreck site. Here is that image-

 Look familiar?????
As I already stated above- these coins came from the Earl of Abergavenny wreck lost in Weymouth Bay which is nowhere near the Isles of Scilly.  Neither Ed nor I were pleased to see these coins being misrepresented in another of Mr Larns publications-especially when they were used in conjunction with a chapter that seemingly attempts to contradict our good work. 

Ever since originally writing this page Mr Larn has now updated and revised his book Wrecks of Scilly. The above image has been removed and replaced with another. Funny that!  I wonder if he will do the same thing with his other older book which is also incorrect.

Now we move on to the Wheels wreck. This was a  wreck site consisting of a cargo of mining equipment that I found with a magnetometer I had borrowed from a good friend named Phil Roberts. This wreck was later deemed so important that it received a protection order from the government. I had spent an awful lot of time measuring, photographing and drawing the cargo of this wreck- in an effort to get it identified. I also lifted a few items to aid with dating purposes. (All items lifted went into the Museum here) All the information I had gathered was then sent to the Tevithick Society in Cornwall. This was done in a further attempt to hopefully help date and ID the wreck itself. My thoughts were that the wreck was post 1830 due to a Porter Trotman anchor that I had found near the site- that anchor was'nt  invented until the 1830's. Logical? The Government archaeologists later published their report on the site that the wreck was probably later at  around 1850. The Trevithick Society agreed but surmised the possibly of a little later still- at around 1860- Their thoughts being that the cargo was probably replacement parts for worn out items that had been in use in a mine, somewhere around the world-and as some of these items were not even  invented until after 1830 it seemed likely that the wreck was post 1850 as it takes time for such heavy cast iron gear to wear out and thus warrant replacement. Again-Logical? Oddly-the Trevithick society expert stated to me that he had had contact from another person who was also trying to identify this same wreck and that that person had said the wreck must be the Padstow lost at Scilly in 1804. (The records only show that the Padstow had an: iron cargo- unspecified) The Trevithick Society member told me that he had said to the person how this could not be the Padstow as elements of the cargo were not invented until after 1830.  Not long after these machinations took place Mr Larn published in his book- 'The Wrecks of Scilly' -that this was the wreck of the Padstow lost in 1804. Within the chapter he calls himself - 'an authority on shipwreck research' and that with this particular wreck he 'accepted identification  as a professional challenge'  Not only do I feel he is utterly wrong about his identification- but his article contains unnecessary and unfair criticism of other peoples work on the wreck, along with other items of false information about the project. 

Now we turn to the stern site of HMS Colossus. This was a new part of the wreck that I found while diving alone in May 1999. It was a new area of this famous shipwreck that was not previously known about. I dived the site for two years lifting many artifacts from it. Naturally, I declared the new site to the Receiver of wreck in 2000 and the artifacts all went on display in the local museum at that time. All verifiable. Anyone who was then a trustee of the museum would certainly have noticed my large display appearing ;- where before there was nothing from this famous wreck to be seen -suddenly a vast collection existed in one whole corner of the building . Noticeable to any active  trustee one would think?  Later, in 2001, other divers came onto the site. Inevitably, more wreckage was uncovered including a twelve foot tall elm wood carving of a classical warrior found by my wife Carmen. The site was then protected in 2001  Any work that occurred on this new area of wreck, after 2001, would not have existed without my initial discovery of this new area of wreckage in 1999 & 2000. However, in Mr Larn's book- 'The Wrecks of Scilly'  he talks about the finders of the bow section of this wreck- which is absolutely right and proper. Fair enough!- but when it comes to how the stern area was discovered over 400 yards away from the Bows -as declared by myself in 2000,  he skips over this fact completely and extensively writes about the project from 2001 onwards. This is simply his choice- but  it leaves me wondering  if perhaps there is motive at play.  To read my view of this project-

Now we move on to the latest anchor saga mentioned in earlier posts and in my Colossus page. This was a huge 18th century Royal naval anchor we found in St Marys Roads in summer 2013. At first thought, rightly or wrongly, I concluded that it must have come from the warship HMS Colossus as no other ship of this kind style and age is known to have lost such an anchor in the immediate area. Reasonable? -I thought so! To date I have seen roughly 40 anchors in the area- yet Mr Larn  went on Television and in news papers,- saying that our latest find must be an anchor that,  in 1967,  his comrades in the Royal navy had taken from the Association wreck site (over 6 miles away) and dumped in the area where we found our anchor . Not having previously heard of this particular incident- (and why would I ?)  I looked into it and found the event indeed turned out to be true. However, what Mr Larn failed to tell the world - was that he had previously published in his book- 'Admiral Shovels Treasure'  that the anchor he was talking about had "later  been lifted and taken to the mainland.''  ergo -it could never have been on the sea bed for us to find -so he was contradicting himself!

 Whilst it is very flattering having such a famous person, from within the diving world, take such a keen interest in projects I am working on-  it would be nicer if his reporting on them was just a little more accurate.