Pictures reveal devastating damage inside historic Harwich ship after suspected arson attack

  • Stuart Leithes reports of ITV News Anglia on the determination to get LV18 back to her best

Pictures on board an historic manned lightship - the last of its kind in Britain - have revealed the devastating damage caused by a suspected arson attack.

The historic LV18, which is moored at Harwich Quay in Essex, was damaged by one of several fires in the town on Friday.

The LV18 - which in its heyday effectively acted as a floating lighthouse anchored at sea - once hosted pirate radio projects off the Essex coast, and had been preserved and restored.

The Pharos Trust, which owns the vessel, said it had recently installed new digital radio studios and equipment worth in the region of £40,000.

Tony O’Neil from the trust said: “The impact of this incident is absolutely awful. Most of it is smoke damage, three cabins were burned out.

"The boat is original 1958 vintage and it is totally unique.

  • Take a tour inside the damaged LV18 after it was hit in a suspected arson

"There are hundreds of almost priceless exhibits that have been smoke damaged, possibly beyond repair.

“We had very recently installed new digital radio studios and equipment in the region of £40,000 which will certainly be written off and will urgently need to be replaced."

He said a celebration event to mark 60 years of the start of Radio Caroline and other pirate radio stations off the coast of Harwich, scheduled for Easter, "may now be in jeopardy".

Mr O'Neil praised the initial efforts of the emergency services.“The logistics of the whole response, coordinating their efforts so quickly when we had separate fires started in other areas of Harwich at the same time, was incredible," he said.

A 33-year-old man from Harwich has been charged with four counts of arson and appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court. He was remanded in custody until a hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court on 5 March.

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