Historians Seek Torrey Canyon Memories

The Torrey Canyon

Do you remember the Torrey Canyon oil spill?

If so, a group of historians from the University of Exeter are looking for people who have first-hand memories of the event.

The supertanker ran aground on rocks between Land’s End and the Scilly Isles in the spring of 1967, spilling over 110,000 tonnes of crude oil into the sea. The incident made national and international news over the next 11 days as the Navy and the RAF were called in and people from all over the West Country worked together to help in the largest clean-up operation of its kind.

Historian Jos Smith says the stories and experiences will contribute to a local history project that attempts to explore and understand the incident particularly from first-hand accounts.

He told us, “We are interested in getting in touch with anyone who was there and remembers being involved, either on the Scilly Isles or on the Cornish mainland. Perhaps you helped in the weeks of clean-up operations afterwards. Perhaps you remember the particular impact that the incident had on the wildlife, or on the fishing, farming and tourist industries. Perhaps you didn’t witness the incident itself but you do remember its impact on family or community life afterwards. Whatever your level of involvement, and whatever your memory, we would be very interested in hearing from you.”

Anyone who is interested in helping is invited to contact Jos Smith at the University of Exeter on 07877 911339 or email jjos201@exeter.ac.uk.

Alternatively, you can write to him at: Thaxted, Long Street, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 3BS.

He will then send out details, and in some cases a researcher may ask to visit participants and conduct a recorded interview in late April or early May.