Sealand souvenirs help pay for repairs

SOUVENIRS from the great fire of Sealand are being sold over the internet to raise money towards repairing damage caused by the blaze on the independent mini-state.

By Richard Cornwell

SOUVENIRS from the great fire of Sealand are being sold over the internet to raise money towards repairing damage caused by the blaze on the independent mini-state.

Among the merchandise being sold are damaged bolts which withstood the flames on the former world war two gun emplacement - at just £3.99 each.

A spokesman for Sealand said: “These are original deck bolts that due to their amazing strength have survived almost intact.”

The 550 sq m principality has also launched a range of other souvenirs since the fire last summer to try to raise money to pay for repairs, which are costing up to £250,000.

Postcards, “Save Sealand” T-shirts and caps, and a DVD are also on sale.

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Rulers of the mini-state have also launched an appeal to raise money and said all contributors will be featured in a new Sealanders Wall of Fame.

The spokesman added: “All names of contributors will be engraved so that a permanent record of support world-wide can form a monument here for the many who support our country and its principles.”

The fire was caused when a generator exploded. State apartments suffered some damage, and there was severe smoke and water damage throughout.

Contractors Church and East Ltd have been managing the renovations and improvements, which are said to be progressing well.

A new generator room has been put in place, all the charred structure removed, and new accommodation provided, including new apartments, offices and a new chapel.

The spokesman said: “The devastating fire destroyed much of the country's administrative centre and the main power generation facility which serves its population and industries.

“Fortunately, back-up systems exist which permit its activities to continue but the disaster has compromised significantly the quality of life of its inhabitants and the continued development of the island's economic and social growth.”

As revealed in the Evening Star on Saturday, Sealand's royal family, Prince Roy and Princess Joan Bates and their son Prince Michael, Prince Regent, who set up the principality 40 years ago, have announced that it could be handed over to new rulers - for £65 million.

Spanish estate agency Inmonaranja, which is handling the sale, said the new tenants of Sealand would not be able to change the name of the country - which has its own football and golf teams, and an athlete representing it at international events - and would have to run it the same.

WEBLINK: www.sealandgov.org

Would you like to live on Sealand? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

Factfile: Sealand

Sealand was built as a North Sea war-time fort called Roughs Tower in 1941 at a cost of £1m.

Its two 70ft concrete towers weigh 4,500 tons and contain seven storeys of living quarters.

Visible from Felixstowe seafront, it was used for pirate radio stations in the 1960s.

In 1967, Roy Bates, now 85, a wealthy businessman and former 8th Army Royal Fusiliers major, and his wife Joan, a former beauty queen, declared it as the sovereign state of Sealand.

It has its only currency, flag, stamps, national anthem, constitution and laws.

Over the past four decades the weatherbeaten structure has been the scene of many colourful incidents and its history is as chequered as any of the most volatile hot spots around the world.

There have been at least seven attempts by raiders to try to seize it from the Bates family with petrol bombs, shotguns and hand-to-hand fighting.

One German man was even imprisoned for seven weeks before receiving a royal pardon, and in the 1990s there was considerable concern after Interpol found forged Sealand passports being used to launder money from drug smuggling.

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