A riddle surrounding floating cargo which has been washing up around the coastlines of Europe – and is believed to be up to 100 years old – has links to the Fylde coast, it has been revealed.
The odd rubber squares, which are all stamped with the word ‘Tjipetir’, are thought to date back a century and they have been washed up at Newquay in Cornwall, as well as Northumberland, the Channel Islands, Brittany, Holland and Germany.
Tjipetir was the name of an early 20th century rubber plantation in West Java, Indonesia, and the tablets seem to be made from the sap of the gutta-percha tree, which is native to Asia and northern Australia.
There has been much speculation about the blocks and how they ended up in the seas, including a colourful theory that they could even have come from the wreck of the doomed liner Titanic.
However, experts say many ships would have carried them and the exact vessel which transported these ones might prove difficult to trace.
Whatever the explanation of all these recent sightings, one of them has now surfaced just off the Fylde.
The block shown in our picture was found in the Wyre estuary at Knott End, by keen walker David Whiteside.
David, 49, of Queens Terrace, Fleetwood, said: “I was doing a circular walk past Knott End and I noticed this thing bobbing in the water.
“I thought, ‘What’s that, that looks really weird, it’s not just a piece of normal driftwood’ and I fished it out.
“I decided to Google it when I got home, and I discovered that people had been finding them all over the place.
“I realised this was the first one found in the North West.
“It’s amazing to think they could have been in the water for 100 years.”
David, who works for a safety-at-height firm in Manchester, is keeping hold of the block and says he will follow any new developments and research into the origins of the cargo with great interest.
He added: “I’ll definitely keep it – at the moment it’s in the bathroom.”