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Lightship No. 38 - Gull.

In 2006 I visited the wreck of the old Gull lightship, No. 38. laying in the silt and mud gently rotting at the side of the River Thames where she has lain for the past 60 years. I was so taken aback by this sorry sight that I made a 30 minute DVD Video to record her for posterity before she is gone for ever. You can read my full unabridged history of the Gull LV 38 here.

See the video on YouTube .

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She is often mistakenly referred to as the Gull light ship because of her term of duty marking the Gull Stream on the Goodwin sands. However she was only here from 1929 to 1930. After a collision which sank her and in which the Master perished she was re floated and renamed 'Brake' and she was now placed at Brake Sand on the Goodwin Sands.

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She was built in 1860 and served on previous stations including Lyn Well at the Wash. After another collision in 1940 at Brake Sand she was removed, repaired again, and sent to Mouse Station in the mouth of the river Thames and renamed 'Mouse'. She was attacked by enemy air fire in 1941 and then withdrawn to spend the remainder of the war laid up.

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Club bought her to use as a club house. She was transferred and given a berth at Grays, Thurrock on the Thames. She remained as a club house until the 1970s when a more permanent club house was built and she became redundant yet again. Since then she has fallen into disrepair and vandalism and arson has speeded up her deterioration. It is only a matter of time before this wreck is removed as a danger to the public.

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That is the end of the photos that I took.

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No 1 and No 2 were taken by Jeff in May 2004. In May 2005 he took No 3.

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No 4 was also taken in May 2005. Jeff returned in October 2010 to take No 5 and No 6.

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And finally the last two were also taken in October 2010. Thanks Jeff.

I understand that in May 2009 the mast and lantern were removed in the hope that they could be preserved. The following photographs were taken and placed on the internet. Unfortunately I have lost the name of the person who took them - if it was you then I will gladly add your name as the owner of them.

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I like these shots taken on board and inside. The photographer had far more courage than me and I thank him (or her) for them. The photo on the right is the first I have seen of the Gull demasted.

These photographs were taken on 26th June 2009 by 'Trail of Monkeys' and placed on the Flickr website. The copyright of these photos belong to him and this is acknowledged.

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These are exceptional photos of the the lantern and mast. If there is enough local support and finance then they may be restored and place locally as a memorial.

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They are a fantastic set of close ups of a split second in history.

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Well done 'Trail of Monkeys' for such a splendid set of photographs capturing a never to be repeated moment in time.

This photograph was taken on 20th March 2011 by 'Ramc2011' and placed on the Flickr website. The copyright of this photo belongs to him and this is acknowledged.


Thank you 'Ramc2011' for sharing this photograph with us.

These photographs were taken on 7th October 2011 by 'Prince Oliver' and placed on the Flickr website. The copyright of these photos belong to him and this is acknowledged.

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Thank you 'Prince Oliver' for these sad final moments. Thank you for getting in touch with me as these may well be the last photographs that we will ever see of her.

These photographs were taken by Roy Thompson on 25th February 2012 and sent to me to place on this website.

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Roy says that he was traveling on the Thames with the PLA when he remembered the interest shown in this old vessel. He was able to land and take a few photographs.

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Roy says that the debris will soon be removed in the near future and that there will be no trace left what so ever.


Luke sent in this photo which he took on 16th April 2016. You can see that the bow has now been submerged in the silt and the whole wreck has not long to go.

Thanks Luke for what may able to be the final photographs of LV Gull No.38.

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It looks as though Shaun will take the prize for the last photo as this one was taken in April 2017 and still the Old Lady refuses to go. The companion photograph is of the old mast beautifully restored in its new home. Thanks Shaun.

These photographs were taken by 'Faded Image' and placed on the Flickr website. The copyright of these photos belong to him and this is acknowledged.

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The left hand side photo was taken about May 1974 and the right hand side photo was taken about 1973. Thank you to Faded Image for putting them on Flickr.

Dave Brown lived in Grays until about 1983, and knew the Gull very well as his parents had a boat in the Yacht Club. He recently started scanning his photos of the Gull from about 1975 or so. He was sad to see how much it had deteriorated in 35 years: but never the less, his photos are are welcome archive and very good for a young lad at the time. His best one is from 1965, from a selection of slides his parents took of the yacht club when he was four years old.

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The first seven photos are the 1975 ones; the last is the 1965.

Here is an old postcard from the 1950s together with another unknown photograph.

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My old friend, John Mobbs, ex Trinity House lighthouse keeper, supplied the following images.

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Lightship No. 38 is believed to be the second oldest lightship in European waters - but unfortunately not for long. Below are a couple of pictures taken in her prime.

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The old black and white photo on the left was taken at Ramsgate after she was sunk in 1929, next is in 1935 after returning rescued ship passengers to Ramsgate. The middle photo shows her in her prime with 'Gull' emblazoned on her side, and the one on the right shows her in the 1970s in her present berth.

And what happens now - nothing !. By the time you read this bottom paragraph all trace of Lightship No. 38 Gull will have disappeared and will be wiped from the memory of the public.  As far as I am aware this is the only complete record of her last days.

The Gull was sold for scrap in 2009 but not before a campaign was launched to save her mast. £ 48,000 was raised to complete the project and the mast has now been restored and relocated inside the perimeter of Thurrock Yacht Club. On Thursday 29th November 2012 the mast was finally lit up in a special ceremony with dignitaries from Trinity House and the local Council.

You can read my full unabridged history of the Gull LV 38 here.

See the video on YouTube .