A THAMES barge moored on Leigh’s Two Tree Island has been taken away and destroyed by Southend Council.

The Trojan barge, the former headquarters of the Leigh Motor Boat Club, had been a feature of Leigh Marshes for more than 20 years.

However, Southend Council officers removed the 82-ton steel structure down in January claiming it was becoming a health and safety hazard.

The barge, built in 1899 in Southampton, was, for more than half a century, used to carry goods up and down the Thames, before being sold in 1961 and moored in Leigh.

David Hurrell, 57, from Hadleigh, is disappointed council officials did not give somebody the chance to restore the barge.

He said: “She would have made a really good restoration project but Southend Council decided to destroy it.

“Parts of her were quite worn, but in her heyday she was very attractive. She was a wonderful link to the past.

“She was not doing any harm where she was and I would of loved to have seen her restored.“ Richard Walsh, vice-chairman of the Society for Sailing Barge Research, said the barge was the last survivor of a group of eight boats built to carry 180 tonness of cargo on the Thames.

He added: “Her demise is a serious loss to our maritime heritage, a loss with no obvious serious attempt by the council to establish its importance nationally and its local trading history relevance.”

Lynn Jones, Southend Council’s resort services manager, said: “The barge had been left to rot on the marshes for many years and was becoming dangerously dilapidated.

“We arranged for it to be removed for health and safety reasons. For over ten years, the vessel had no owner and it was filling up with water and silt.”