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Treasure Hunting on the Isle of Sheppey - Nicola Webster @Sheppey Sea Glass
The pebbles and sands on the miles of beaches on the Isle of Sheppey are one of the best places in the world for discovering little gems of sea glass, washed ashore after years of adventures in the sea.
One local enthusiast, Nicola Webster, discovered a love for collecting this sea glass after using the local beach to recuperate from a broken leg. The Leas is apparently the best beach on the Isle of Sheppey for finding this glass, and it is to do with its location in the Thames Estuary. She describes many contributing factors to the abundance, one of which is the glass factories that were based along the Thames Estuary, but also the fact that people have used the Thames for many years ‘as a dumping ground for pottery, glass, or anything they didn’t want’ and in the end ‘their trash became our treasure!’
And we all know about the Montgomery, shipwrecked off the Isle of Sheppey with it’s visible masts and underlying current of potential explosive danger, but there are also an estimated 200 shipwrecks in the Thames Estuary which add to the proliferation of coloured treasures along the shores.
The journeys of these glorious glass fragments can have lasted for anything from 50-100 years as they tumble in the waves and bump their way to shore and Nicola described the different glass that can be found. White and green is common, but there are also vintage glass pieces, cobalt blues from bottles of poison, and sea foam which is formed from the original Coco Cola bottles from the1950’s and 60s’. You can even find 1930’s Vaseline glass, which contains uranium and has infinitesimal amounts of radiation.
Nicola collects this glass and sells to local artists as well as worldwide. People buy it to keep it to make art or to make jewellery. She speaks of her pride that people are ‘walking around anywhere in the world wearing little fragments of Sheppey.’
Interested in joining Nicola in her treasure quest? It is a fantastic way to enjoy the beaches on the Isle of Sheppey, is suitable for the entire family and is also very good exercise. Nicola trawls the beach on a Saturday; find her with her blue bucket and doing a 2 mile walk with hundreds of squats!
Find Nicola on her Instagram page Sheppey sea glass and read up about the types of sea glass you can find, the history of it and what to look for. You may also want to search for some of the Island’s local sea glass artists for some inspiration to create your own masterpieces.
Perhaps you may even solve the mystery of the ‘Sheppey Blue’ glass only found on the Isle of Sheppey. Where is it from? If you do solve it let us know!
(Banner Image: Minster Shingle Bank Beach)