Happy Harold takes part in Ostend maritime celebrations

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Following a successful trip to Ostend to take part in the famous ‘Ostend at Anchor’ celebrations in 2009, Hastings’ own trolleybus Happy Harold was invited back again to the maritime festival Oostende voor Anker.

The event displays more than 150 ships and boats of all shapes and sizes and attracts over 250,000 visitors.

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This year the celebrations coincided with the centenary of the Ostend Raid on May 10th 1818 when HMS Vindictive was scuttled across Ostend Harbour to render the harbour unusable by German Uboats.

After the first war the wreck was salvaged by the Royal Naval Salvage Corps who presented the bow section to the town of Ostend who erected it as a fitting and enduring memorial to the brave souls who perished in the action.

HMS Vindictive was a British Arrogant-class cruiser built at Chatham Dockyard. She was launched on 9 December 1897. The vessel participated in the Zeebrugge Raid.

Ion castro, of Hastings Trolleybus Restoration Group, said: “After the ceremony at Ostend Happy Harold had the privilege of conveying British Legion veterans who were connected with the action and the had travelled down from North Staffordshire to attend the ceremony, Happy Harold conveyed them back to Ostend from the commemoration.

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Hastings Borough Council had an attractive stand on the quayside advertising Hastings with well-known Old Town character ‘Tush’ Hamilton demonstrating his skill at the ancient art of net making.

“Of course Happy Harold assisted in promoting his home town and impressing visitors with the fact that this unique vehicle was not only running but had made its way to Ostend under its own steam (diesel really)

“As you may imagine, it was hard work driving this unique 90-year-old vehicle from Dunkirk to Ostend without the benefit of power steering and, at 15’6” tall, worrying about whether the ‘bus would pull down the tramway overhead and bring Ostend’s tramway system to a grinding halt, but we did have a few inches clearance.

“I am very grateful to William Davies, our second driver, for driving us to Dover on the outward journey and to Tom Bewick, the consulting engineer who rebuilt the engine after it seized a few years ago for coming along as a volunteer in case of mechanical mishaps.”

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Cllr Kim Forward, of Hastings Borough Council, said: “Hastings has exhibited at this show for many years, Belgium is our largest overseas market, and Belgian visitors contribute a lot to our visitor economy.

“Our stall was extremely popular and Tush and Pat adding a real authentic flavour. They even brought a mermaid that used to be on display in their shop in the High Street, and helped to recreate Hastings beach in Ostend, complete with deckchairs, sandcastles, and fishing equipment.”

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