THE mast of the historic Gull Lightship was lit up in a special ceremony on Thursday.

The ship, which dates to 1860, was used as the headquarters for Thurrock Yacht Club from 1947 to 1971.

After the yacht club found a more permanent base, the ship lay abandoned on the banks of the River Thames, in Grays, and fell victim to vandalism and disrepair.

It was eventually sold for scrap, but Conservative councillor Joy Redsell launched a campaign to save the mast.

Following a £48,000 project, the mast has now been restored and relocated to Thurrock Yacht Club.

Cllr Redsell was joined at the lighting up ceremony by Thurrock mayor Yash Gupta and Sir Jeremy de Halpert, from maritime safety organisation Trinity House.

Cllr Redsell said: “I am delighted to see some heritage celebrated in Thurrock. This is an absolutely beautiful thing to behold following a lot of hard work.

“I would like to thank the many organisations, like the Veolia Mardyke Trust, the Port of Tilbury, and Npower as well as the many individuals – even one from the United States – who have contributed to saving this beacon.

“I would also like to thank Grays Yacht Club for its help and congratulate A P B Marine, Premier Piling and Small and Company and their teams of workers who made this project possible. Without all of us working together, the Gull light would not have been erected.”

Sir Jeremy added: “This is a magnificent icon for Thurrock and, as far as I know, is the first incident of recycling from a sunken lightship, making it completely unique and a beacon for everybody.”