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Lost in the age of Queen Victoria, The Thames came to lie 50 miles south of the Arctic circle under helm of a 'colour and audacious' captain

The historic Thames steamboat drawn as it would have looked

An English steamboat lost 139 years ago has been found 50 miles below the Arctic Circle lying at the bottom of a Siberian river.
The Thames, which sank in 1877, has been uncovered by a Russian team in the Yenisei close to the port of Turukhansk.
Captain of the vessel when it perished was Victorian mariner Joseph Wiggins, a pioneer of the Northern Sea Route which he hoped to use to tap the potential riches of Siberia.
The Thames was carrying a cargo of graphite bound for Britain when it ran into trouble in icy waters around 916 miles north of regional capital Krasnoyarsk.
It was the first vessel of its kind to penetrate the Yenisei from the Arctic in 1876, before sinking the following year.

The captain and his British crew survived the disaster, and travelled back home overland, but Captain Wiggins, said to be colourful and audacious, continued to sail through hazardous Arctic waters, and even supplied rail tracks for the Trans-Siberian railway line.

Captain Joseph Wiggins was honoured in his lifetime by Alexander III
In all, he twice sailed up the Ob River - the world's seventh longest - and five times carried cargoes to the Yenisei.
The discovery was reported by a Siberian news website, which has now launched a search for descendants of the Captain Wiggins amid hopes the vessel will be lifted from its watery grave in future.
"The Siberian Times is seeking to find descendants of Captain Wiggins to put them in touch with the researchers who located the steamboat as well as the Russian Geographical Society, and the local authorities in Kransnoyarsk region," stated the report in the Siberian Times .

The Thames was carrying a cargo of graphite bound for Britain when it ran into trouble in icy waters
The Thames was found by Nikolay Karelin and Alexander Goncharov, who teach history at the Siberian State Aerospace University, during a 30-day summer catamaran odyssey on the Yenisei funded by the Russian Geographical Society in honour of the British seafarer.

The captain is regarded as an important historic figure in pioneering access to and from Siberia by boat, and his achievement will be marked next year in Russia on the 140th anniversary of the vessel's loss.
In his lifetime, Wiggins was honoured by Russian tsar Alexander III.

The team sets off to seek out the secrets of The Thames steamboat

At the time the Wiggins sea and river route to the heart of Siberia was hailed as an "event rivalling in importance the return of the first fleet loaded with merchandise from India".
Modern Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin is once again demanding that Russia exploits the Arctic Ocean for commercial sea traffic, and the last few years have seen a huge increase in shipping here, boosted by climate change which has reduced the ice in these waters.
The same researchers also believe they have found the wreck of Russian clipper Northern Lights which sank the same winter in the Yenisei.
In this case, the sailors were less fortunate and some perished.

There is a memorial for the crew members of the drowned steamboat
A wooden cross was erected as a memorial.
Full details of the two discoveries are due to be published in scientific journals.

BY WILL STEWART 

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