How’s this for irony! On the south coast of Britain, near the Cornish town of Perranporth, a strange and unique phenomenon has been continuously occurring for the best of 20 years. So much so in fact that it has influenced the course of local culture.
The oddity in question is the endless pieces of Lego that have been washing up on particular stretch of beach since 1997. Not just any Lego mind you, nautical themed Lego including seaweed, cutlasses sea creatures. The children’s toy pieces wash up in such numbers even today, that children collect them to trade with each other and even sell to tourist’s.
It’s not uncommon to walk down the beach at Perran Sands and see a small boy standing behind a table with an array of slightly worn-looking Lego flowers for sale.
How is such a thing possible, you ask? Well, on 13th February 1997 a container ship named The Tokio Express was starting it’s journey from the Netherlands to New York when it was hit by a huge wave just off the coast of Land’s End. The force of the wave did not over turn the ship, however 62 shipping containers were swept overboard and down to the bottom of the English Channel. Just one of those containers happened to be filled with Lego, much of which serendipitously transpired to be marine-themed.
Offering a unique insight into the working’s of underwater currents, the lost Lego did not remain on the bottom of the sea but instead began to slowly and steadily make it’s way to the nearby Cornish beaches. Soon locals were finding dragons, pirates and octopuses (the rarest of all). The trend has continued to today and seems to show no signs of waning. The BBC interviewed local woman Tracey Williams to learn more about the history of drift-lego.
Now, how about that irony we mentioned? It seems poetic that this story should surface amidst the clamour about Lego’s partnership with Shell, the giant oil company currently so at risk of causing an arctic oil spill. Frankly we’d rather have our oceans filled with Lego than oil, if we had to make the choice.