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Light shed on mystery of beacon failure

PUBLISHED: 02:35 07 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:04 03 March 2010

COME on baby light my fire!

The mystery of why both Felixstowe's beacons failed to play their part in the Queen's Jubilee celebrations this week continues to perplex many, although today The Evening Star can shed a little light on the puzzle.

COME on baby light my fire!

The mystery of why both Felixstowe's beacons failed to play their part in the Queen's Jubilee celebrations this week continues to perplex many, although today The Evening Star can shed a little light on the puzzle.

They managed to light them in the South Pole and in Kabul but igniting the flames in Suffolk's premier resort was seemingly beyond the powers that be leaving only disappointed revellers.

Hundreds of people stood waiting on Cliff Lands and on the North side of the pier waiting for something – but Felixstowe clearly wasn't about to be caught in the middle of a flame reaction.

Had the town been lashed by the rain and fog it has seen since yesterday, it would have been understandable for the lighting to have been aborted.

But the weather on Monday evening was calm. Indeed, calm perfect conditions for lighting a beacon.

The scenario is made worse by the fact there were a total of 1,996 beacons spread across the country and only four of them failed to light – two of them in, yes, Felixstowe.

So what happened to the beacons? Conspiracy theorists prepare to ignite your own possibilities, although it seems we've extinguished the mystery of one of the beacons.

John Cresswell, Chairman of the Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol Service said his main task on Monday night was to ensure the safety of revellers and make sure nobody ventured into the sea. But he did shed some light on to why the sea beacon didn't light.

He said: "I had doubts over the beacon, which I voiced before it was lit. It was built on the shore and consisted of four oil drums, but as soon as it was put into the sea it inverted itself.

"It just tipped over because it was so unstable. It was a real waste of time but it was decided that we couldn't risk the pollution because of the oil involved."

As for the cliff top beacon, Mr Cresswell said he too was puzzled: "I was very disappointed and it's a bit of a shame – I would have thought it was a pretty simple thing to do."

Despite numerous attempts to contact event organiser Les Arbon, it appears he hasn't been seen since early on Monday evening, before the beacon was to be lit.

Town councillor Barry Gillings said that he was part of the organising party for the beacon lighting but dropped out as he had a holiday booked over the jubilee weekend.

He said "I pulled out in March or April and responsibility was passed on to somebody else. I thought it was best that I let them know that I wouldn't be around to light it and that duty was passed to another person. I don't know what happened – I only heard about it afterwards."

Apart from the beacon incident, which was supposed to be a dazzling finale, the town's jubilee celebrations were also tarnished by the fact that nobody actually opened the show.

Felixstowe Mayor Malcolm Minns was supposed to open the event but ended up being pushed from pillar to post to such an extent that he failed to officially open it.

It seems Felixstowe had a great day on Monday – just a pity about the start…and finish!

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