A RETIRED Royal Navy captain has been bailed by police after a car crashed into the building of an Emsworth sailing club and burst into flames.
Clifford Caughey, 82, known locally as John, was a club member from Emsworth. He was arrested on suspicion of arson and yesterday (April 23) he was bailed by police until May 28, pending further inquiries.
He remains at Queen Alexandra Hospital and has undergone X-rays for minor injuries.
Club members are still in shock after a Volvo car smashed into the north wall of the club after hurtling down Bath Road at an estimated 70mph at about 6.30am on Tuesday (April 22). The car then burst into flames.
The clean-up operation has now begun, with workmen clearing out the debris in the large hole left at the sailing club.
Rebuilding the damaged section of the building is expected to take up to three months, but club Commodore Chris Clode vowed it would be ‘business as usual’ from this weekend.
“Our insurers have been out and we are now looking at getting quotations from builders to repair the damage,” said Chris.
“Thankfully, the main club was not damaged at all, but the electricity, gas supply and telephone has been affected and needs replacing.
“We hope to be open and running next week, and sailing is continuing as normal.
“It was thanks to the extensive fire protection we had put in when renovating the building last year that no further damage was caused.”
The building underwent a major £350,000 renovation last year, including a new bar, training rooms, balcony and larger changing rooms.
The damaged area was a children’s room used by members of the club.
Mr Caughey, who lives in Emsworth, was the commanding officer of HMS Fife from 1982 to 1984 and has been a member of the historic club for more than 20 years.
He was also captain of the Portsmouth Port and Queen’s Harbour Master from May 1980 to February 1982.