The P22 has been welcomed to Sandwich with a champagne reception

The P22 Photo Brian Whitehead

The P22 gunboat has been welcomed into Sandwich with a civic reception after its ‘forced’ departure from Ramsgate.

The craft left Ramsgate for good on Saturday (June 24) after efforts to reduce mooring fees failed.

Barry Field and John Brown, owners  of the 1950s USN P22, which has a starring role in blockbuster movie Dunkirk due out this Summer, announced they would quit Ramsgate due to being unable to meet mooring costs.

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Efforts by county councillor Paul Messenger, Cllr Beverley Martin, Green Party member Tricia Hartley, Ramsgate mayor Trevor Shonk and local groups and businesses led by resident John Davis  to raise funds to retain the ship were not enough to cover the fees.

The gunboat took up its permanent moorings at Sandwich Quay on Tuesday.

A reception was held by Sandwich and Dover councils to welcome the craft.

Sandwich and Dover councils will provide the P22 with a secure walk-down pontoon, will make arrangements for a special showing of the Dunkirk movie in the town and are aiming to give a £1,000 grant towards the £2,000 per year berthing costs.

John Davis, who runs the Ramsgate Action Group, said he and will set up a Friends group covering both the town and Sandwich, to support the gunboat. It is hoped the craft will come back to Ramsgate for events.

Mr Field said: “We had a really great welcome at Sandwich Quay. Paul Graeme, the mayor, did a marvellous job with the reception and I believe with his help and the support of others P22 will become a valued member of the of visitor attractions at Sandwich, encouraging more people to come and appreciate this beautiful, historic town.”

Disappointed Cllr Shonk said: “What we had we have now lost thanks to TDC.

“Last year I, as Mayor, was invited to come into our Royal Harbour on the P22 ,Now I have  watched it being moored at Sandwich.

“ Our attraction has gone  and we are just left with looking at the void it leaves behind.”