Fire damage

Nine weeks after the fire that devastated the LV18 we can now show some photos of the most severely damaged area, after they have been mostly cleared of debris.

From the quayside the worst area is clearly visible, concentrated around the starboard aft cabin area.


Within the ship, anything combustible was destroyed. This included cabins and all the electrical equipment.



The damage to the electrical systems was throughout the ship and every cable, socket and distribution panel has needed to be replaced. That included the studio, located in the ship’s lookout.

The studio was unusable until just a few days before the broadcast. Every item of equipment was damaged beyond use due to the smoke.


Most of the studio vinyl collection was damaged beyond use

Essex Police have opened a criminal investigation into the fire.

What a weekend!

Easter Weekend was a blast, with our visiting celebrity DJs and BBC Essex’s live broadcast from the ship on Easter Saturday, as well as the show at the Electric Palace on Easter Monday.

We were marking the 60th anniversary of UK offshore and independent radio and were delighted that we could have Keith Skues and Roger ‘Twiggy’ Day in our studio during the weekend.

Roger is reading Keith’s latest book

Our thanks to Keith & Roger for agreeing to spend the weekend with us.

Otherwise we had shows from Stephen ‘Foz’ Foster (formerly BBC Suffolk, Radio Orwell and more!), Garry Lee, Chris Cooper, Paul Windsor, Rick Marks, Olly KInvig, Dave Kent, Jim Fourniadis and Duke Anthony.

Duke was in Harwich on holiday when he heard about the fire and offered to help put the studio back together. A day or so later he was presenting a show!

The Easter celebration of radio had been planned for many months before the devastating fire and it was only due to hard work by many people that we were able to proceed with the weekend.

With the generosity of the New Bell Inn, Electric Palace Trust and Scruton Wyatt Media we have added a substantial amount to our regeneration fund.

 

Easter Report

The following was sent to the Harwich & Manningtree Standard for the 5th April 2024 edition.


Radio Mi Amigo was broadcast from historic light vessel LV18 in Harwich Harbour over Easter Weekend, with fans flocking to Harwich to help mark the 60th anniversary of offshore broadcasting. Radio Caroline started the radio revolution in 1964 just off the coast of Harwich, and were soon joined by other ships. The guest DJs, on board the LV18, for the weekend included Keith ‘Cardboard Shoes’ Skues and Roger ‘Twiggy’ Day who were both on Radio Caroline, and other ships, in the mid 1960s.

Radio Mi Amigo was also supported by visiting DJs Stephen ‘Foz’ Foster, Garry Lee, Olly Kinvig, Paul Windsor, Chris Cooper, Rick Marks, Dave Kent and Duke Anthony. Duke had arrived in Harwich to help put the studio together but ended up in the studio chair hosting several shows!

One highlight of the weekend was when Keith Skues and Roger Day shared the studio to talk about their lives afloat sixty years ago, before they headed to the Electric Palace as guests of BBC Essex presenters Steve Scruton and Ian Wyatt. The proceeds of that show will be donated to the LV18 Restoration Fund, along with a donation from the Electric Palace Trust from film revenue over the Easter Weekend’s 1960s film festival.

BBC Essex was broadcast live from the LV18 on Easter Saturday, with Steve Scruton interviewing the DJs, fans who had gathered on the quayside and members of the public.

The Pharos Trust, which owns and operates the LV18, also hosted a visit by three member of the Tendring District Council Economic Development team, which has been working with the Trust on a community radio project over the past six months.

It is hoped that the ship will re-open to the public by the end of May, once the immediate restoration work and clean-up have been completed. A further live radio weekend is being planned for August.

The Pharos Trust thanks everyone who helped put together the wonderful weekend in the LV18’s floating studio and would especially like to thank those who helped raise money for the continuing Restoration Fund.

Press Release 27-03-2024

Radio Ship Back On Air For 60th Anniversary of Pirates

The LV18 will be able to take part in the 60th anniversary of offshore broadcasting after a mammoth effort by contractors and volunteers to prepare and repair the ship following the horrendous fire on 2nd February, The work has been gratefully supported by the community and businesses, including the New Bell Inn and Electric Palace, who have raised money for the Pharos Trust to help the ship’s restoration.

The Radio Mi Amigo studio was ready on Thursday to ensure that shows will be able to be broadcast from the LV18 over the Easter weekend. This weekend marks the date 60 years ago when Radio Caroline started a radio revolution just off the coast from Harwich.

Two original 1960s pirate DJs, Roger ‘Twiggy’ Day and Keith Skues, will be broadcasting from the Mi Amigo studio over the weekend, and will also be appearing at the Electric Palace on Monday for a live show about pirate radio, hosted by Steve Scruton and Ian Wyatt of BBC Essex. Other DJs taking part include Stephen ‘Foz’ Foster, Garry Lee, Paul Windsor, Olly Kinvig and Chris Cooper.

BBC Essex will be also be broadcasting live from on board the LV18 on Easter Saturday with Steve Scruton and Ian Wyatt between 2 and 6. Steve is also hosting a fundraising show for the LV18 restoration at the Electric Palace on Bank Holiday Monday. The cinema is also showing a dedicated weekend of 1960’s films, including ‘Dateline Diamonds’, some of which, was filmed in Harwich and on board the Radio London pirate ship in 1965. The cinema is donating a proportion of the proceeds to the Pharos charitable trust, which owns and operates LV18

Tony O’Neil, chairman of the Pharos Trust, said he was delighted that the ship’s studio would be available for the weekend, and this was a testament to the efforts everyone had put in and to the enormous support the charitable trust has received from voluntary efforts and community involvement alike. There is still much work to be done to finish the restoration work and a crowd funder has been set up to assist in this. It is hoped that the unique heritage vessel will shortly be reopened to the public.

Two weeks after the fire

The following is a press release that was submitted to the Harwich & Manningtree Standard for the Friday 16th Feb 2024 edition:
——

A fortnight after the horrific fire that threatened to destroy the LV18 Lightship, plans are now being finalised to restore the ship to its original condition. In the past few days a  highly qualified marine surveyor has been appointed to drive the project whilst meetings have also taken place with a Marine Insurance Assessor and our legal team. These meetings were necessary but had to wait for the right people to be available. Subject to a written sign-off from these professionals, we should soon be in a position to move forward, albeit carefully, to clean and restore the vessel.

Tony O’Neil, of the Pharos Trust, said “We needed to get the right team of professionals together and haven’t been able to say very much until the site meetings had been held and the necessary legal & HSE steps accomplished. Our Marine Surveyor will overview the process and ensure all regulations are followed. We are, of course, extremely grateful to Essex Police and Harwich Haven Authority for their continued support.”

A team of volunteers will, when all safety measures have been implemented, take part in the restoration but a professional team will be removing the majority of the smoke damage. We currently believe this will be late February or early March.

The Pharos Trust has also been in contact with the Charity Commission to ensure our funding arrangements are compatible with our restoration plan and we are pleased to confirm that this is indeed the case. A Go Fund Me appeal has been started by Heather O’Neil, on behalf of the Pharos Trust, and this has so far exceeded £5000 of the £25000 target. The Charity Commission has approved this appeal.

Tony O’Neil said “Our solicitor is overseeing all the legal aspects of the restoration and this includes our charity status, which he himself was responsible for. We have always taken professional advice and followed legal routes to funding.”

Tony O’Neil added. “We are still planning to be involved in the 60th anniversary of offshore pirate radio, and we are working hard to ensure that the ship is ready for public events happening at Easter.”

Fundraiser: https://www.gofundme.com/f/lv18-restoration-fund

Second update after the fire

Update 10.45pm 12 Feb 2024:

Due to the quantity of water needed to fight the fire, this had left the LV18 listing heavily to starboard. After a meeting involving marine professionals, overseen by a newly appointed marine surveyor, the ship has been made level and is not currently at risk. The appointed marine surveyor is now due in the next few days to identify anything else that needs to be done regarding the ship’s integrity.

A marine insurance surveyor / assessor is also due to visit although we have been in regular contact with our specialist marine insurers.

We have also confirmed with the Charity Commission that we are operating within their legal guidelines, and that the crowdfunding on our behalf is permitted. Copies of all legal and insurance documents will also be lodged with the Trust’s solicitor this week.

We are grateful to those who have already donated, your money will be used to restore the ship and contents and is ring-fenced for that purpose and will be held securely in the charity bank account. We have also had many offers of voluntary assistance but until the surveyors have agreed that it is safe then we have to wait.

We are, of course, grateful to all the officers from the emergency services who assisted saving the ship on the night of the fire and have been involved in the subsequent investigation.

A further update will be given when there is new information.

Pharos Trust

2021 Opening Times

From 22nd June – 5th September 2021: Open daily (Closed Mondays) from 11am – 4pm.
For further information call 07446 171 320. School parties and group visits by prior arrangement.
Admission: Adults – £4; Children under 16 – £2; Family (2 Adults and up to 4 children) – £10
New exhibition for 2021 – ‘It’s All About Waves’ – The role of Lightvessels in the development of wireless communication.

Illuminate Festival 2019

The Pharos Trust was asked earlier this year if we could light the lantern for the 2019 Illuminate Festival. In the past this has been a low key event but for 2019 we were promised a bigger affair.

Little did we know that, over the two days of this year’s festival, several thousand people would be on Harwich Quay, marking the start of a year of events. 2020 will be the 400th anniversary of The Mayflower’s voyage to the USA and Harwich has a large part of the story to tell.

The Pharos Trust would like to thank the LV18’s volunteers who put in a total of 143 hours getting the ship in order and ready for the lighting of the lantern and the continuous liaison with the other festival stakeholders in order to ensure an incident-free event.

2019 & planning for the future


Lightvessel LV18 is a registered historic ship and is believed to be the only publicly accessible historic ship between the Thames and the Humber.

She was built in 1958 and decommissioned by Trinity House in 1994, as the last manned lightvessel in UK waters. LV18 is the only preserved lightvessel in its original condition in the UK.

The lightvessel is owned by a charity, the Pharos Trust, who bought it in 2002. The vessel has been in the current berth on Harwich Quay since 2011, funded by Haven Gateway Partnership as part of the Quayside Regeneration Project. LV18 is open to the public all year round, albeit weather dependant in the winter.
The Trust is keen to continue working alongside Harwich Tourism Group, Harwich Haven Authority, Harwich Town Council, Tendring District Council & Essex County Council in order to promote the history of Harwich and to attract additional visitors to our maritime town.

In particular we feel it is appropriate to work closely with HHA and other stakeholders on interpretation and promotion, especially given HHA’s enhanced community involvement over the past few years and their outline plans for 2019/2020. This will hopefully include Mayflower 400.
During 2018 we were awarded funds by Harwich Town Council and TDC’s Big Society Fund. These were used for essential maintenance and emergency engineering.

For 2019 we have plans to reallocate one exhibition compartment on the lightvessel. This will give us the space to create a new gallery covering the role lightvessels played in the waters around the UK and include the role of merchant shipping, particularly in and around the Harwich Estuary.

We are also planning to enhance the existing pirate radio exhibition.

In both areas, additional audio visual displays will be introduced as we have access to archive media, including an interview with the last master of the LV18.

As a part of these plans an additional weatherproof audio visual facility will be installed on the aft deck, under the Helideck. This will be available to visitors who may be unable to access the lower decks, as well as being a suitable starting point for educational groups.

We will be seeking funds to support these plans and hope to start work by the end of March 2019. It is believed that we could have the new or refurbished exhibitions in full use by June.
Alongside those works we also plan to install new lighting, signage and banners and update our hangouts.
We are already undertaking a project to extend audio and video cabling from our studio to the exhibition spaces as well as external locations, a deep clean and repaint (where necessary) will occur alongside these works.
Our financial plan for this is as follows:
Exhibition interpretation and presentation update £5k
including: 4 x internal video/still displays with mounting kits
1 x external/weatherproof audio-visual display
Exhibition display boarding
Lighting and electrical supply for exhibition spaces
Public harbour webcam
Installation costs
External advertising signage & banners
External Lighting

Other projects, still being developed, include a twenty four month repair and renovation plan for the ship, including re-installation of central heating, as well as a rebuild of our radio studio and creation of a production suite.

It is also intended that Radio Mi Amigo will broadcast on FM and online for ten days in the summer of 2019. We’ll again invite former pirate radio DJs to Harwich to recreate the pirate radio atmosphere from our floating studio. This is funded by advertising and sponsorship.
Tony O’Neil
on behalf of the trustees of the Pharos Trust
LightVessel 18
The Quay
Harwich
CO12 3HH