Watch – Tour round the historic Ipswich lightship
- Credit: GRAHAM MEADOWS
Floods of people have been exploring the country’s last working, manned lightship, currently moored on the Ipswich Waterfront.
The LVI8 Lightship is planning to stay berthed in Ipswich until mid November, and is open for visitors daily.
The ship, which was famously used in filming for the movie ‘The Boat That Rocked’, is now owned and operated by a charity called the Pharos Trust.
It is currently moored at Orwell Quay for a residency while its usual berth at Harwich is being dredged.
The trust’s founder, Tony O’Neil, said he had been overwhelmed by the positive response from the people of Ipswich.
“The numbers have been very encouraging,” he said. “We have been received with enormous generosity and excitement.
“When we got to Ipswich there was a crowd of people there waving.
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“I hadn’t realised how much impact us being up there would be on the Waterfront.
“It is the most perfect place for us to have been situated – because you have got a wide open quay there and there a constant footfall of people walking past.
“It is great to be in another historic maritime port. If only we could come again.”
During its history, the ship was also used as a base for pirate radio and it was moored in the North Sea off the Essex and Suffolk coast.
There are displays chronicling this time on board.
Mr O’Neil said it was a real bonus to bring an essence of pirate radio back to Ipswich.
“Ipswich was a huge area of support for pirate radio, so to bring that message up to Ipswich has been fantastic,” he said.
Mr O’Neil said the project was inspired by Kae Humphreys, who owns the Ipswich-based cafe chain Coffee Cat.
He added that he was keen to express his gratitude to Tendring District Council, which was able to secure funding when the trust unfortunately accrued debt due to two false starts.
On board, the boat is relatively unchanged from its days as a lightship designed to protect mariners.
Last week, to coincide with graduation ceremonies for the University of Suffolk being held nearby, the skies above the Ipswich Waterfront were lit by the ship’s beacon – which can be seen 25 miles away.