A HISTORIAN has backed calls for a warship at Southend Pier to help draw in visitors to the world-famous landmark - saying it ties in with the town’s rich maritime past.

The Echo revealed on Friday how Independent councillor Ron Woodley, deputy leader of Southend Council, is pressing for a warship similar to HMS Belfast in London to be moored next to the pier as part of a vision to create a new “Golden Mile”.

Now historian Ian Yearsley, 55, of Eastwood, has said it would tie in with the maritime town’s history in the Second World War.

He said: “I think this is a good idea.

“Southend is a maritime town which played a leading role in the Second World War.

“Having a warship at the end of the pier would bring people in and

there is great interest in this sort of thing.

“I think we need to identify an appropriate ship perhaps one from the D-Day fleet which passed the pier.

“We had the Tudor ship The London and a lot of Leigh cockle boats helped in the Dunkirk rescue.

“A wartime ship could be the centre piece in a new maritime attraction at the pier.

“I think it’s doable but there could be issues with the tide and where it is placed.”

He said it would take money and willpower to see this off the ground but would see large numbers of daytrippers visit.

Mark Flewitt, deputy mayor of Southend, has also welcomed the idea.

He said: “I think any safe attractions would have added pulling power for the town.

“It tied in well with the idea of staycation. It’s a good idea and who doesn’t like this sort of thing. I have been to the HMS Belfast and these ships are unique experiences.

“I think it will add to the town’s offer and benefit it.”

It comes after Mr Woodley insisted “nothing was off limits” in making the pier the number one attraction in south Essex.

He is also keen to see a London Dungeon-style attraction.

Mr Woodley said people want to see new, renewed and fresh attractions and he feels it will draw people to the pier.

Warships have always been a titanic attraction: See page ten