Campaign launched to save mast

THIS is the view from above one of Suffolk's historical landmarks.

Tom Potter

THIS is the view from above one of Suffolk's historical landmarks.

The dilapidated mast, at the former Naval college HMS Ganges, is threatened with destruction if restoration money cannot be found.

A campaign to save the mast, supported by the EADT and BBC Radio Suffolk's Mark Murphy breakfast show, has been backed by ex Blue Peter presenter John Noakes who climbed the 140ft pole almost 40 years ago.

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A full restoration of the Grade II-listed mast in Shotley is estimated to cost around �100,000. Developers Galliard Homes and Haylink said earlier this year that repairs would only be carried out when building work starts on some 400 homes on the site, but work is still yet to begin.

George Barnham, secretary of the Ganges Museum, admits the wait has been frustrating.

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“The longer the area goes undeveloped,” he said, “the longer the mast will stand there in a state of disrepair.

“We heard that the developers would take the mast away to be repaired before reinstating it but we are unable to put pressure on them.

“We don't own the mast so are unable to do anything about it but it is part of our heritage and even appears on the Shotley sign.

“All the ex Ganges boys are in despair when they come down to visit the mast they used to climb and can only see it from the gates.”

Barry Powell, treasurer of the Stour Preservation Society, said: “The bottom of the three masts is made of steel and is rusting very badly.

“The rust is showing through and every time it rains the inside of the mast fills with water.”

“The mast is part of the village's history. If you talk about Shotley, you have to mention the mast.

“The problem we face is not being able to get Grade I status for the mast, and therefore protecting it from destruction, because it requires a fair amount of upkeep.”

Paul Simon, Babergh District Council's PR manager, said: “We view the two issues of the mast and any planning application as quite distinct.

“We are aware of concerns that parts of the mast are in poor condition and are persuading Galliard and Haylink to get advice from specialist companies as to how much it would cost to make repairs.

“We recognise the iconic nature of the mast and our goal is its preservation.”

Galliard Homes and Haylink were unavailable for comment.

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