A PIECE of wreckage found by a 12-year-old boy on the Yorkshire Coast may be much older than thought and belongs in a maritime museum, a history enthusiast says.

Liam Branagan, 12, of Peasholm, Scarborough, found the large sheet of metal on rocks at Thornwick Bay, Flamborough Head.

He thought it was from a Second World War vessel.

But after The Press reported the story we were contacted by Kyle Estienne, who believes Liam has found a piece of one of the biggest wrecks in the area: a 19th century steamer.

The vessel, called Laura, met her end in November 1897 after setting off for Trieste from Newcastle with a cargo of coke.

During the night of the 21st, she ran ashore at the south end of Filey Bay.

Despite attempts by Filey Coastguards to haul her off the sands with tugs over the next few days the vessel was abandoned.

She broke up in heavy seas, leaving her bottom plates, stern post and boilers exposed at low tide.

Kyle, 20, an apprentice electrician, of Cornlands Road, Acomb, York, recognised the shape of the wreckage.

The vessel’s sturdy 1809 engineering has held the boilers together for more than a century. But he believes the recent spate of storms finally caused the rivets to part company.

He said: “I think a tidal surge has popped the top of one of the boilers off. It will then have been dragged along the sea bed, rolling in the current, until it was lifted up on to the beach.”

Kyle loved to study wrecks from the cliff tops while on holiday in the area.

“I’ve always been interested in old shipwrecks and history,” he continued.

“If it can be proved it came from the Laura it would definitely be of interest to a maritime museum, given the ship’s tragic end.”

He reckoned it would definitely be worth a museum’s while to salvage it from the beach.

He added: “It could be done with the right lifting gear or carried off the beach if you had enough people.”

“It deserves a place in a maritime museum with a plaque.”