Gallery: Owner left ‘devastated’ after boatyard blaze

THE owner of an historic boatyard has told of his devastation after a blaze ripped through a workshop and destroyed his business.

An emotional Peter Wilson was supported by friends yesterday as he watched firefighters struggle in vain to save his livelihood.

The drama unfolded shortly after 8am when crews were called to the Aldeburgh Boatyard Company in Fort Green.

An area of the town was also cordoned off as a precaution after crews discovered two liquid propane gas cylinders close to the fire.

Around 20 firefighters tackled the flames at the height of the blaze but they were unable to save the workshop.

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It is understood that employees at the yard also bravely fought to douse the flames, managing to save two boats before fire crews arrived.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage is believed to have been caused at the yard, which employs four people.

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Mr Wilson, managing director, who has been there for more than 30 years, said four boats had been lost, three belonging to customers and one belonging to him, as well as all their equipment.

“We were all here when it started,” he said. “There is a wood burner which we have used for years to burn shavings and sawdust. For some reason it caught the roof.

“We have lost so much. I am devastated. I was born here and have sailed here all my life. Hopefully the insurance is adequate to recover and rebuild with rapidity.

“Until we can get in there and start cleaning up it is difficult to know what we can do. We still have a lot of boats to launch and we can do a lot of work outside.

“However, we have lost all our machinery and our personal hand tools, some of which are classical bits of equipment. It’s not just the monetary value of it all but the personal value as well.”

Crews from Aldeburgh, Woodbridge, Orford and Leiston attended and an investigation is now under way to establish the exact cause of the blaze – but it is not being treated as suspicious.

Steve Mableson, incident commander with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Unfortunately the building has been completely written off. Due to its construction it burnt very, very quickly.”

Eye-witness Janet Belchamber told how the fire took hold in the roof of the building with frightening speed.

She said: “There was a little bit of smoke and then seven or eight minutes later the whole roof was ablaze.

“There were one or two tiny explosions. It happened so quickly. It was very frightening”

Diana Lovell-Pank, who lives next door to the site, said: “The boatyard is a symbol of the town. It is very sad. It would be devastating if the business was not resurrected.”

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