The Thames Foreshore

The Port of London Authority is responsible for safety on 150km (95 miles) of the tidal Thames from the sea to Teddington, including the foreshore area up to the high-water line. If you were to look out onto the banks of the Thames at low tide, you might well see men and women combing the foreshore, metal detectors in hand, stooping only to pick up finds they’ve uncovered from the murky Thames mud. These are modern mudlarks and they are following a tradition that goes back to Victorian times.

The Society of Thames Mudlarks was founded in 1980 - you’ll find no website, phone number or postal address listed for this club. Not just anyone can go onto the mud of the Thames and search for finds and the Society does so by special licence. The members have to declare anything historically interesting to the Museum of London. The museum now has around 1000 of their finds, including miniature cannons of copper and pewter – the oxygen-starved mud of the Thames bed may not be good for wildlife, but it’s great for stopping the metal tarnishing and decaying. However you don't have to be a member of the mudlarks society to obtain permission to search. Dates and permits structure
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Permits will be issued from 1st April 2005 for one year only. Permits will have two parts - an ID/permit card and a "conditions" card

Permit types and use There are be two types of permit:
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A standard permit (of which there is also a One Day permit available). This allows you to dig to 3 inches (7.5cm) down and has restrictions on location Mudlarks digging permit (you need to be a current member of the Society of Mudlarks). This allows you to dig up to 3 feet (1 metre) down and has less restriction on digging location.

Permit Costs The costs of permits are as follows:
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Standard £35.00 Mudlark £40.00 Day permit £7.50

Reporting and recording regime All objects of archaeological or historical interest must be taken to the Museum of London for identification and recording , along with details of the locations and circumstances of discovery The museum will return the objects to the finder with a copy of the identification and PAS record This information needs to be passed onto Port of London Authority (i.e. the PAS record) at the time of the expiry of the holders permit. The PLA and The Crown Estate reserve their rights in relation to the ownership of objects found. If an object is believed to be treasure the Holder must notify the find to the Coroner within 14 days Digging Restrictions The areas that are restricted can be viewed in this NCMD document Notes:

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Metal detectors : May be used on the foreshore. Whilst these new Permits do not cover the use of metal detectors when searching the foreshore, any digging resulting from such use is always subject to the requirements of this regime. Renewals : Application for renewal of Permits should be made at least one month before its expiry to the PLA. Safety : Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published guidance on safety in excavations. It is recommended that Mudlark Permit Holders obtain copies of the relevant information for their safety.

Contact and for further Information: The Port of London Authority Marine Administrative Support (Foreshore Permits) London River House Royal Pier Road Gravesend Kent DA12 2BG
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Tel 01474 562284 Fax 01474 562277


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