1. ITV Report

Australian treasure under the Welsh sea

Filming at sea Photo: TiFiNi

In an ambitious new series on ITV Cymru Wales, we'll be hunting for the treasure of a shipwreck which has remained hidden for over 150 years.

In the new three part series Welsh Wreck of Gold, which starts on Wednesday, 24 July, we'll be taken to the depths of the sea in search of gold.

In the early hours on 26 October, 1859, on the final part of her journey from Melbourne, Australia to Britain, The Royal Charter sank on rocks off the Anglesey coast. Carrying some 520 passengers and crew, the ship was smashed to pieces by the force of one of the biggest storms ever to hit Britain. Only a handful lived to tell the tale, and it's said that 497 people died in the terrible tragedy which also claimed a haul of Australian gold worth £80 million - much of which is still hidden under the sea.

Gwenllian Jones Palmer, will take us on a journey in this new series. She'll investigate the history of the ship, her passengers, the storm and the gold. We'll also see amazing images of the wreck, almost completely hidden in the seabed.

"I am an Anglesey girl, born and bred but emigrated to Australia. Everyone in Anglesey knows about The Royal Charter because it's such a terrible story about all those people killed on the rocks so close to the shore. I haven't been to Moelfre for years, but I remember going there as a child as we studied The Royal Charter's history at school."

– Gwenllian Jones Palmer

The treasure hunt is lead by Vince Thirkettle, an experienced and world renowned gold panner who has hunted for gold on all continents. But there is one place which keeps attracting him back, time and time again - the shipwreck of The Royal Charter.

"Everyone in Anglesey knows about The Royal Charter because it's such a terrible story about all those people killed on the rocks so close to the shore. I haven't been to Moelfre (the location of the shipwreck) for years, but I remember going there as a child as we studied The Royal Charter's history at school.

– Gwenllian Jones Palmer

As well as joining Vince in the water, Gwenllian talks to experts to find out more about the history. Who were the rich passengers of The Royal Charter? Why was there so much gold on board? And what caused her to sink? And after diving to the cold depths, will Gwenllian surface with Australian treasure in her hands?

"I came to hear about Vince's underwater escapades through a radio interview in Australia," says Gwenllian. "I remember driving the car, and this interview came on the radio and I heard them talking about The Royal Charter. I stopped the car immediately so I could listen. I was thrilled to hear such a close connection between Australia and Wales. I had to get my hands on this story. And through some miracle, I managed to persuade Vince to allow me to join him on his next dive."

– Gwenllian Jones Palmer