Two boats destroyed by fire on 21 Feb - arson not ruled out

The first images of the fire that started at Hillyard’s boatyard, Rope Walk, Littlehampton, in the early hours of Saturday 21 February have been released.

Six engines were called to the scene and local residents had to be evacuated from their homes due to fears about exploding gas canisters.

The site’s owner told PBO there were five boats in the shed where the fire started, two of which are completely written off. A motor-sailor and two of the four unfinished Sadler 290’s suffered minor smoke damage but the other two Sadler’s are ‘melted, blackened wrecks.’

The initial fire service report states: ‘The cause of the fire is being investigated, but arson has not been ruled out at this stage.’

Hillyards had ceased trading earlier in the year, leaving four part-finished Sadler yachts and 20 employees out of work.

Hillyards has a 100-year history of building wooden yachts but had expanded over the last 18 months into new premises in Gosport. It then acquired Broadblue catamarans and four unfinished Sadler 290 hulls after Southampton’s Rampart Yachts went under in June 2008.

Photo: PPL