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Dunwich: Celebrated boat finds way back home to village

13:45 09 August 2014

Children exploring the Jill Anne boat at The Ship Inn, Dunwich. Photo by Claire French.

Children exploring the Jill Anne boat at The Ship Inn, Dunwich. Photo by Claire French.

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A historic Suffolk fishing boat has been returned to its home despite fears it might never be seen again.

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The Jill Anne boat being winched into place at The Ship Inn, DunwichThe Jill Anne boat being winched into place at The Ship Inn, Dunwich

The Jill Anne was for many years one of the most visited and photographed boats on the Suffolk coast, greeting tourists and visitors to Dunwich beach.

A local fisherman, known only as ‘Pinger’, used the boat to catch fresh fish off the shingle beach for some 40 years, supplying The Ship Inn with cod, sole and herring.

But after the boat was sold, it disappeared from its home on the back of a lorry, leaving those visiting the beach year after year a little saddened and disappointed.

This was until Matt Goodwin, general manager of the pub, spotted the boat just down the road in the yard of Southwold boat builder, Justin Ladd, and together they worked on restoring the Jill Anne to return it to Dunwich.

Mr Ladd said: “Matt had known about the boat, and happened to walk past my yard one day. He saw it, and had a look round to see if it was the Jill Anne.

“He then tried to convince me to sell it to him.”

The plan was conceived to bring the vessel back to Dunwich.

It has now been refurbished and installed as a permanent feature of the outside beer garden of The Ship, overlooking the sea in which it fished for years - a perhaps fitting retirement home for the well-worked local vessel.

Mr Ladd also said: “I have been collecting boats for years. I have another eight in my yard.

“It took six weeks to finish the work on the Jill Anne, in between rain showers.

“We had to remove the engine, old winches and other equipment to make it safe for people to climb in.

“It was quite difficult to install the boat because of access - we could only get the crane to go over the hedge, and there were overhead wires and the ground was uneven as the inn is on a hill.

“We had to lay boards down and use scaffold rollers, and through sheer muscle power we were able to move it into location.

“The Ship Inn didn’t quite know what to expect when we turned up with boards and rollers.”

Mr Goodwin said: “I was so pleased to be able to bring the Jill Anne back to Dunwich.

“It was such a great shame to find out she had been sold but fortunately we were able to track her down and return her to Dunwich even if she is no longer on the beach itself.

“The Jill Anne is already proving popular with our customers using the garden and the children absolutely love playing in and around her, leaving parents free to enjoy a quiet pint.

“We will be putting a couple of tables in the boat so people can enjoy our famous fish and chips sitting in the very boat that used to catch fish for the pub for so many years.”

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