Historic wherry to undergo three yearly check up
PUBLISHED: 13:57 31 July 2017 | UPDATED: 13:57 31 July 2017
The massive wooden bulk of the Wherry Maud, one of only two trading wherries left on the Broads, will be lifted from the water in a delicate operation on August 9 in order for three yearly maintenance and re-fit work to be carried out.
The last time the wherry, weighing about 22 tons, was taken from the water, the bill for the lift, repairs, materials, labour and storage ran up to £15,000.
Wherry Maud Trust trustee Linda Pargeter fears the cost will be similar this time around.
“She needed about 70ft of oak planking in the bottom last time around. We are gearing up for a similar cost as we expect more needs to be replaced.”
Originally built in 1899, Maud will undertake her last sail before the refit on August 6 when she is taken to Goodchild Marine at Burgh Castle.
Her mast, sail, gaff and about three to four tons of ballast will all be removed to lessen her weight before Goodchild’s 32 ton boat lift is used to remove her from the water three days later.
All the maintenance and repair work will be carried out by Swallowtail Boatyard.
Mrs Pargeter said the Wherry Maud Trust was only formed two years ago to look after and operate Maud.
“2017 is a big year for us as it will be the first time that the trust has been responsible for the three-yearly out-of-the water maintenance and re-fit.
“This is always an anxious time since until Maud is inspected thoroughly nobody knows the extent of the work that will have to be done or the cost. Indications are that Maud is in basically good condition, having had a complete restoration over an 18-year period followed by a re-commissioning in 1999.
“However, Maud is now in her 118th year and it may be necessary to replace some of her original bottom planking.”
Mrs Pargeter said from past experience they expected Maud to be out of the water for around two months.
“This is the best time for this operation as the boat builder is not so busy at this time of year,” she said.
“Once she’s back in the water she will be taken to her base in Ludham.”
Maud was originally built to carry timber from Great Yarmouth to Norwich and could haul a load of 40 tons.
For more information visit www.wherrymaudtrust.org.
The history of wherries
At one stage during the 1800s there were several hundred wherries plying their trade along the waterways between Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.
Used to transport cargo, wherries called at the mills of towns and villages between and at local staithes.
It was only after the introduction of the railway and later the motor car that they started to decline in number.
The Norfolk Wherry is a unique design that evolved to suit local conditions. Most, such as the Wherry Maud, had clinker hulls where the planks overlap one another.
Wherry masts were also designed to lower so they could pass under bridges. They were typically crewed by a skilled skipper and a mate, who may have only been a boy. For many years the Wherry Albion was the only trading wherry left on the Broads until the rotting hull of the Maud was pulled from the mud in 1981 and restored over the following 18 years.