Bumper crowd at Maritime Festival

AN estimated 30,000 visitors are thought to have attended the ninth Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival at the weekend.The two-day spectacular, held on historic South Quay, drew crowds on both days despite the occasional heavy shower.

AN estimated 30,000 visitors are thought to have attended the ninth Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival at the weekend.

The two-day spectacular, held on historic South Quay, drew crowds on both days despite the occasional heavy shower.

Among the scene stealers were the Dutch square-rigged two-mast tall ship, Mercedes which had a constant queue of people waiting to board her to look around.

Festival committee chairman and director of the Greater Yarmouth Tourist Authority, Aileen Mobbs, said: “We were very excited to have the Mercedes this year and to be able to offer our visitors this amazing opportunity to take to the waves on the newest of tall ships. This adds an additional element to our well loved and well established festival.

“Because of the weather I doubt this will be a record breaking year but despite the rain it has all gone better than we expected, in fact it has gone very well indeed.”

She revealed within hours of opening on Sunday all the festival programmes had been sold.

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One of the most popular sights was the last remaining steam drifter, the Lydia Eva, looking neat and spruce following a £1.2m makeover, thanks to the Lottery Heritage Fund. She is part of Yarmouth's fishing heritage, having once been part of the massive fishing fleet in the 1930s.

The festival also saw other vessels docked including two RNLI lifeboats, Caister lifeboat, Gardline survey vehicles, an a customs cutter, a torpedo boat from the second world war and the trawler Excelsior, which is normally moored at Lowestoft.

Deputy Mayor Paul Garrod showed how the Caister lifeboatmen react to an emergency by throwing himself into the river!

He said: “As chairman of Caister Lifeboat, I thought it would be a good idea to join in the demonstration of a rescue. I was pulled out of the swell about 10 minutes later.”

Other water attractions included a rescue by The East Anglian Working Newfoundland Dogs Group.

The bustling quayside served up a raft of food and craft stalls, cookery and displays - and music, including shanties.

Some of the region's top chefs demonstrated culinary skills and nautical food on the menu included Hemsby lifeboat's herrings and kippers.

There was also an impressive re-enactment by the red-coated East Coast Militia who fired muskets with a mighty bang, shocking the unaware spectator.

French people visiting from twin town Rambouillet were told just seconds before hand there would be a loud bang with the demonstrations.

Local museums, Time and Tide, Elizabethan House and the Tolhouse also joined in the festival with special ticket rates. The Mariners on Howard Street also hosted a beer festival with live music.

Pirates also dropped their bootie to escort visitors over the town hall and there was an exhibition of model boats organised by Gorleston Model Boat Club. Historian Colin Tooke gave talks on Newtown, South Quay and the town centre topically in its 800th anniversary year of King John's Charter.

The Maritime Festival was organised by the Greater Yarmouth Tourist Authority and Great Yarmouth Borough Council in conjunction with Eastport UK.