Part of Lowestoft skyline sails off to its new home

The topside of the offshore wind farm substation, made by Sembmarine SLP, sails away from the port o

The topside of the offshore wind farm substation, made by Sembmarine SLP, sails away from the port of Lowestoft en route to its new home at the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm. Picture by: Andrew Papworth. - Credit: Archant

It might be a little less recognisable than its big yellow brother, but it has become no less a familiar and popular part of a coastal town's skyline.

The topside of the offshore wind farm substation, made by Sembmarine SLP, sails away from the port o

The topside of the offshore wind farm substation, made by Sembmarine SLP, sails away from the port of Lowestoft en route to its new home at the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm. Picture by: Andrew Papworth. - Credit: Archant

Yet dozens of people gathered on Lowestoft's iconic South Pier as the coastal town bade a fond but sad farewell to another popular key landmark of its shores in recent months.

Fittingly, with dark, melancholy clouds in the background, the 1,800 tonne 'topside' of the offshore wind farm substation for the Dudgeon Wind Farm was put onto a barge and pulled by tugs out of the harbour.

It was then pulled along the Norfolk and Suffolk coast to its new home 32km off Cromer, where it was due to arrive last night.

Residents got a remarkably close-up view of topside sailing away from the pier, with John Soanes – from the Port of Lowestoft Research Society – saying: 'If people are here on holiday, it's an incredible thing to watch. It's entertainment.'

The topside of the offshore wind farm substation, made by Sembmarine SLP, sails away from the port o

The topside of the offshore wind farm substation, made by Sembmarine SLP, sails away from the port of Lowestoft en route to its new home at the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm. Picture by: Andrew Papworth. - Credit: Archant

A team of 250 people at Sembmarine SLP has been designing and building the project at its base in Hamilton Dock over the past 18 months, putting an extraordinary 850,000 work hours into the project.

The first and perhaps most visible part – the bright yellow 'jacket' which holds the substation in place in the seabed – was the first to leave, also attracting large crowds as it was pulled out of Lowestoft harbour by barge earlier this year.

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While the 'topside' which sailed out yesterday is not as visually striking, it is perhaps even more significant.

The jacket holds the vast structure in place, the topside is where the power generated by 67 offshore wind turbines is actually processed.

Matthew Wooltorton, who has managed the project for Sembmarine SLP, said: 'It's a great feeling to see it go, but it's not the end. We now move our focus onto the offshore works and final completion.'

Chris Walter, 72, from Lowestoft, who watched the sail-away from the South Pier, said: 'It is fantastic to think we build things like that here and that we've got the expertise to do it.'

Did you take any photos of the sail-away? Upload your images to www.iWitness24.co.uk

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