The veteran Helwick lightship – which has been a familiar and much-loved feature of Cardiff Bay for more than 20 years – has been saved from scrapyard.
When the news broke last week that the vintage vessel was to be towed away from her berth in Cardiff Docks – where she had served as a Christian drop-in centre and cafe – it was feared the lightship was nearing the last of her days and would be scrapped.
It certainly looked like that at 08:00 this morning when the old lightship – which has done her duty over the years warning shipping of dangerous banks and shallows around the coast of Britain – was towed out into the grey mist and drizzle of the Bristol channel in what looked like a marine funeral cortege.
She was being towed by the spud barge Arromanches with a second barge Sabrina acting as a retarder and with the red Bristol Channel Pilot launch also bustling about in attendance .
On Friday the lightship had been moved from her berth at Britannia Quay to Queen Alexandra Dock – an occasion which was filmed by Ben Salter – skipper of the well-known Cardiff Bay excursion vessel “Daffodil” .
Ben’s video – paying a farewell tribute to “Lightship 14” as she is officially known – can be seen on YouTube by following this link: – http://tinyurl.com/ptjwccd
However later today Associated British Ports told PDN that it’s now been announced the Helwick Lightvessel is going to be put into dry dock in Sharpness and will be totally overhauled and restored by local entrepreneur Fred Larkham of Bristol Channel Ships. Eventually she will become a floating museum at Newnham on the River Severn in Gloucestershire.
It somehow seemed appropriate that a ship which, in her career, has saved so many lives, should now herself be saved.