Where and when can I see the LV18 Lightship on the river today?

Former Lightship the LV 18, at Harwich

Former Lightship the LV 18, at Harwich - Credit: Graham Ewens

The historic LV18 - the last working lightship, is set to be towed from Harwich and up the River Orwell to Ipswich today.

Preparations were underway over the weekend ready to lift the LV18 this afternoon, at high tide, and in a military-style operation two tugs will be involved in towing her to Ipswich and her temporary berth at Orwell Quay.

The LV18 has been berthed at Harwich for the past seven years, and as well as the history of light vessels it is also a link back to the days of the pop pirates on the North Sea, with exhibitions on board, and occasional nostalgia events.

It was also involved in the filming of the Richard Curtis movie, The Boat That Rocked about those pirate radio days.

The LV18 is now operated by a charitable trust and is coming to Ipswich for six weeks, during which it will be open to the public for events, there will be live music and radio broadcasts.

LV18 Lightship moored at Harwich Quay

LV18 Lightship moored at Harwich Quay - Credit: Archant


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Spokesman Tony O’Neil said: “We are very excited to be coming to Ipswich.

“The plan is to get underway at 3pm, with two barges helping.

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“It will take two/two and a half hours to get to Ipswich, so we aim to be there at 5.30 - so she can be towed in through the dock gates at 6pm, free flow.

“We have got to be in Ipswich for 6pm, for the high water level,

“She will be towed in backwards to Orwell Quay.”

Good vantage points to see it happening would be at Pin Mill and from the Orwell Bridge, he said.

“I will be filming from the Orwell Bridge.”

Lightvessels, or lightships date back more than 250 years and were in use all round the UK.

The LV18 was the last Trinity House working lightvessel until automation in 1994.

It was built 60 years agao and now houses a collection of artifacts from the pirate radio era as well.

It served around the coastal waters protecting mariners on the seas.

Tony O’Neil, LV 18 founder trustee and curator said: “We are honoured to be allowed by Ipswich Port Authority to bring the LV18 into Ipswich as a visiting heritage vessel.

He added, “LV18 was involved in the filming of Richard Curtis film, ‘The Boat that Rocked’ in 2008 when she was towed down to Portland in Dorset for 5 weeks. LV18 has also been the base for several licenced radio broadcasts bringing back the sounds of Offshore pirate radio stations celebrating Radio Caroline, Radio London and others that appeared off the coast in the 1960’s bringing about a revolution in radio broadcasting.”

LV18 also houses the definitive collection of original artifacts from the offshore pirate radio era and a special pirate radio exhibition is to be set up when vessel comes alongside the Quayside.

Tony added: “There has been enormous interest already in our plans and Ipswich Maritime Trust and several other organisations have offered to assist with the project.

“We are very pleased with the support we are finding in Ipswich. The port authority is providing the berth for six weeks, the borough council are very supportive.

“We are also having a temporary broadcasting licence, from September 15, which will be entitled Juke Box Memories - playing the sounds of the 50s,60s,70s and 80s, on 106.8FM.

“We are also linking up with Ipswich Community Radio and hope to have some live music on the helicopter deck.”

The LV18 is set to stay berthed in Ipswich for six weeks.

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