Image copyright Nicola Davies Image caption Nicola Davies spent three months sleeping inside the box and was desperate to get out
Imagine that a container ship was found floating among the coral atolls of Papua New Guinea – would they turn it in? Or was it one of the thousands of seaborne relics that line up with anchor cables in Bristol’s seafront?
The hulking box – believed to be up to 300 years old – sits outside the city’s tallest building, just south of the south pier. It’s apparently been here since 2010, just after it was bought for £1.
It was previously destined for the scrapyard, until locals got involved. Now the shipping container that was once a bulwark between two worlds has become a beacon, inviting other conversations on the future of Bristol.
Image copyright Nicola Davies Image caption Volunteers from across Bristol organised to dismantle the ship
Image copyright Nicola Davies Image caption The container was exposed to the elements when it was discovered
At first, it didn’t just bequeath a mysterious message to the seafarers of tomorrow. As it took a battering from the surf, it acted as a canvas for the stories of its famous life.
“It was fairly well-preserved by the time I got there,” said Nicola Davies. “There are some pieces of wood missing and a tattered cover, but otherwise it’s just been through the mill. It was folded and thrown out like it was nothing.”
With some help from the Maritime Museum, she and a group of volunteers from the Indian Dogs Bristol group, spent three months climbing up and down stairs, and sleeping inside the box.
Image copyright Nicola Davies Image caption Volunteers first discovered the container in December 2010
Image copyright Nicola Davies Image caption Volunteers hope to relocate the shipping container to a secure site, but it is hard to access
She walked away from the experience feeling a new-found confidence. “The box tells you what happened to it, and who did it.
“If you lay it out there in a way, you can see how it was able to survive for all these years, and then brought to rest like that.
“It’s like a tombstone, you know? It shows how people have done things. And if it had been tossed out on the Bristol Severn Estuary, could it have survived?”
Image copyright Nicola Davies Image caption The container can no longer be saved and has to be dismantled
Image copyright Nicola Davies Image caption Volunteers are searching for someone to save the container
Image copyright Nicola Davies Image caption But it’s not easy
When asked if it was a mark of decline, Ms Davies said she was unperturbed by its condition.
“It’s our livelihood, our livelihood,” she said. “It’s something that represents us. To throw it out would be a deeply felt betrayal.
“When I was sleeping in there, it felt like an open invitation.”
Image copyright Nicola Davies Image caption Volunteers are now working on plans to relocate the container
The container is so big that volunteers are working to find a way to transport it. It’s hard to access and difficult to dismantle.
Organisers are looking for someone to pay to store it safely for 12 months. But who will inherit the fortune – and a shipping container – is anyone’s guess.