Sad to see that a part of our Britishness has gone

land rover defender ENGANL00120110612145800
land rover defender ENGANL00120110612145800
Tents in the Isambard Brunel car park in Portsmouth

NEWS COMMENT: Wild campers in car park might make a difference

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A couple of things have made me a bit sad over the past week – and they’re both linked to heritage and perhaps a bit of Britishness that’s now been lost.

It was the news that one of the Little Ships — those small craft that played such a huge role in evacuating troops from the beaches of Dunkirk during the Second World War — had been destroyed in a fire on the Isle of Wight that first made me sad.

I just can’t help thinking that another part of our heritage has been consigned to history

The Vere was being stored for the winter, ironically to protect her 111-year-old woodwork from damage, when the blaze ripped through the warehouse she and 31 other boats were in and she was lost forever.

Her story will live on though. Built in 1905 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty to mine-hunt in the Thames Estuary, before being sent in 1940 to ferry troops from Dunkirk back to Ramsgate.

She’s credited with rescuing 346 people, presumably during multiple crossings with the flotilla.

When she was painstakingly restored in 2007 two bullets from German submachine guns were found in her hull. A very real reminder of the danger all those on board were in during that time.

There are fewer than 100 of the Little Ships left now, many bearing the scars of a conflict that, while long past, still influences the world and its politics today.

And then there’s the Land Rover Defender, now an obsolete model since the last one rolled off the production line on Friday.

Driven by everyone from the Queen and soldiers on deployment to farmers tending their stock and my mate Chris, Defenders just seem so British.

I’ve always thought they could tackle anything.

I remember living half-way up a Welsh mountain during a snowstorm and the only vehicle that could, and did, negotiate the roads was a battered old Defender.

The faithful old 4x4 rattled its way up the hill without any problems at all.

Perhaps I’m being whimsical, being sad that production of the Defender has stopped.

But I just can’t help thinking that another part of our heritage has been consigned to history.