Tag Archives: Cornwall

The Men Who Chased Shipwrecks

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The Gibson family in Cornwall have maintained a tradition for over a hundred years that whenever a ship is wrecked off the coast, one of them is there to document it.

The family tradition—documenting shipwrecks, obsessively and artistically—started with John, a fisherman-turned-professional-photographer, who learned about the new technology in Penzance in 1860. Gibson trained his two sons, Alexander and Herbert, as apprentice photographers. The Gibsons, armed with their cameras, soon made a habit of traipsing out to every accident in the area as it occurred, capturing haunting scenes in the process.

To get news of the wrecks, and share the results of their work, the family took advantage of another new technology: the telegraph. The sea surrounding their home in the Isles of Scilly was treacherous, and mariners made headlines when they sunk their ships after encountering storms or Cornwall’s notorious cliffs. The Gibsons speedily dispatched both themselves and their images with the help of newly installed telegraph wires.

The Men Who Chased Shipwrecks   [TheAtlantic]