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Huge thatch fire at The Ship Inn pub

PUBLISHED: 12:20 26 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:19 26 March 2019

The fire has engulfed the thatched roof of The Ship Inn Picture: ARCHANT

The fire has engulfed the thatched roof of The Ship Inn Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Dozens of firefighters are tackling a major blaze at the historic Ship Inn in Levington, near Ipswich.

Crews from across Suffolk have been dealing with the blaze Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCrews from across Suffolk have been dealing with the blaze Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Crews were called shortly after 9.30am this morning with reports of a huge thatch fire at The Ship Inn in Church Lane.

A total of 20 engines and appliances from across the county are at the scene, where crews are stripping the roof using breathing apparatus and ladders in an attempt to stem the blaze.

Crews from across Suffolk have been dealing with the blaze Picture: SOPHIE BARNETTCrews from across Suffolk have been dealing with the blaze Picture: SOPHIE BARNETT

A spokesman for Suffolk police said officers were called shortly before 10.40am to assist fire crews at the scene.

The road is blocked and people are being warned to avoid the area.

Crews are tackling a huge fire at The Ship Inn in Levington Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCrews are tackling a huge fire at The Ship Inn in Levington Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

No injuries have been reported, and the cause of the fire is currently unclear.

The pub is no stranger to fire – it suffered a blaze in the late 1980s and then a devastating fire in 2001 when flames engulfed the building as eight crews tackled the incident.

Crews are tackling a huge fire at The Ship Inn in Levington Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCrews are tackling a huge fire at The Ship Inn in Levington Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The fire caused substantial damage but the pub was rebuilt and reopened successfully as a popular eating and drinking place.

• Were you in or around the pub when the fire broke out? If it is safe to do so, you can share your experiences, pictures and video with us by e-mailing amy.gibbons@archant.co.uk

The Ship Inn has suffered devastating fires twice before Picture: ARCHANTThe Ship Inn has suffered devastating fires twice before Picture: ARCHANT

What is the history of The Ship Inn?

On its high vantage point overlooking the marshes and mud flats of the picturesque Orwell estuary, The Ship Inn has long been a landmark to all those who have journeyed along the river.

With links as far back as the legendary 18th century figure Margaret Catchpole, The Ship has in recent years become a favourite haunt of tourists and the yachting community using the nearby marina.

While feted with numerous accolades for fine food and ale, this traditional Suffolk pub has always seemed a world away from the commercial brashness of the modern licensing industry.

The Ship Picture: GOOGLEMAPSThe Ship Picture: GOOGLEMAPS

The famous old inn has stood in the village just down the road from the church since at least the early 1700s.

Made from the timbers of an old merchant ship it was not built originally to withstand the devastating effects of fire.

It was traditionally a place of sanctuary for smugglers returning to Suffolk. There was a secret passage upstairs leading from one wall of the pub to a smugglers’ loft.

One of Suffolk’s most famous historical smuggling figures, Margaret Catchpole, has links with the pub. She is believed to have stood outside and shone a torch to guide her smuggler boyfriend back to shore.

Pictures from May 2001 show a previous fire at the pub Picture: DAVID KINDREDPictures from May 2001 show a previous fire at the pub Picture: DAVID KINDRED

The first licence was granted at the pub to John Girling in 1712. Not much is known of the pub between 1712 and 1844, when Charles Pierce took over.

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