A remarkable piece of Norfolk's maritime history has a starring role rubbing shoulders with some of Hollywood's biggest names in the blockbuster film Wonka.

Great Yarmouth's Lydia Eva - the world's last surviving steam drifter - plays a pivotal role in the box office smash, which stars Timothée Chalamet as Roald Dahl's beloved chocolatier.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Timothée Chalamet in WonkaTimothée Chalamet in Wonka (Image: PA)

The 93-year-old vessel makes a memorable appearance in the hit musical, which traces Willy Wonka's life prior to the events of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The Lydia Eva, which is moored at Great Yarmouth's South Quay as a floating museum, was towed to Lyme Regis in Dorset for filming in 2021 after scouts from Warner Bros spotted its potential.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: The Lydia Eva was sprayed with fake snow for the Wonka scenesThe Lydia Eva was sprayed with fake snow for the Wonka scenes (Image: Graham Hunt)

While there, it was sprayed with fake snow and ice.

The resulting scenes see it take pride of place in the opening moments of director Paul King's festive film, which was released in cinemas last week.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: The Lydia Eva was sprayed with fake snow for the Wonka filmThe Lydia Eva was sprayed with fake snow for the Wonka film

Paul Mitchell, chairman of the Lydia Eva and Mincarlo Trust - which looks after the boat, said: "When I first got a call from Warner Bros I thought it was somebody winding me up. I wondered what they'd want with a 93-year-old boat.

"The Lydia Eva has been in various television shows before, but this was the first time we'd been approached by a major film company."

And Mr Mitchell hopes the silver screen appearance will help safeguard the future of the vessel.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: The Lydia Eva was taken to Lime Regis for filmingThe Lydia Eva was taken to Lime Regis for filming

The boat is currently shut for the season, but opened specially last weekend - and will again from 10am until 2pm this Saturday and Sunday - to mark its cinematic debut.

Mr Mitchell said: "I'd like to think that on the back of this we might see increased footfall. We've already had the Willy Wonka Fan Club getting in touch with us.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: The Lydia EvaThe Lydia Eva

"It costs between £15,000 to £30,000 a year to keep the Lydia Eva certificated and we were hit badly by Covid.

"Footfall fell off significantly then and we're probably at 85pc of the level we were at before Covid, so we're hoping young kids who saw the Lydia Eva in Wonka will ask their parents if they can come have a look at her."

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Olivia Colman stars in WonkaOlivia Colman stars in Wonka (Image: Jaap Buittendijk / Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc)

The Lydia Eva is not the only Norfolk connection to Wonka. Norwich-born Oscar-winning actress Olivia Colman is one of the film's stars, while there is also a part for King's Lynn's Tim FitzHigham.



Built in King's Lynn in 1930, the Lydia Eva was towed to Great Yarmouth and launched by owner Harry Eastick, who named the vessel after his daughter.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: The Lydia Eva pictured in the 1970sThe Lydia Eva pictured in the 1970s (Image: Newsquest)

But, with the town's herring stocks in decline, her time fishing off the Norfolk coast was relatively short, spanning just eight years.

She was bought by the armed forces and went on to spend some 30 years working for the military under the name Watchmoor, steaming all around the coast until 1969.

She was acquired by the Maritime Trust and was restored in the 1970s as a floating museum in Great Yarmouth.

She went to London's St Katherine's Dock in 1986 but returned to East Anglia in the 1990s when the Lydia Eva Charitable Trust was formed.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: The Lydia Eva moored in Great YarmouthThe Lydia Eva moored in Great Yarmouth (Image: Nick Butcher)

The trust also looks after the trawler Mincarlo, which is moored on Heritage Quay in Lowestoft.