Historic steam drifter sets sail for first time in years

Yarmouth Stream Driftter Lydia Eva takes to the sea for the first time in over two years for sea tri

Yarmouth Stream Driftter Lydia Eva takes to the sea for the first time in over two years for sea trials.Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The world’s last surviving steam-powered herring drifter has set sail from her Great Yarmouth berth for the first time since 2014.

Yarmouth Stream Driftter Lydia Eva takes to the sea for the first time in over two years for sea tri

Yarmouth Stream Driftter Lydia Eva takes to the sea for the first time in over two years for sea trials.Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The Lydia Eva made her way down the River Yare and out to sea as a trial voyage ahead of planned public excursions.

The boat has been harboured in South Quay, opposite the town hall in Great Yarmouth, and Thursday afternoon marked the first time the boat had headed out to sea under its own power since undergoing significant boiler repairs.

Pending an inspection from a marine surveyor, the Lydia Eva plans on recommencing public trips in around July.

Paul Witton, ship manager, said: “It’s taken a lot of hard work to get her up to where she is and to get everything certified. All this work has been done by volunteers so it has taken a fair amount of time, but it is a good day.”

Yarmouth Stream Driftter Lydia Eva takes to the sea for the first time in over two years for sea tri

Yarmouth Stream Driftter Lydia Eva takes to the sea for the first time in over two years for sea trials.Crew member Ivor HalseyPicture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Passengers will have a chance to join the crew on six-hour sails, stoking the boilers and steering the ship.

On such a trip, the boat can burn up to two tonnes of coal.

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Mr Witton said: “It would be the hottest day of the year that we got her going again.”

The Lydia Eva was completed in 1930, with the hull built in King’s Lynn and the engine built in Great Yarmouth.

Yarmouth Stream Driftter Lydia Eva takes to the sea for the first time in over two years for sea tri

Yarmouth Stream Driftter Lydia Eva takes to the sea for the first time in over two years for sea trials.Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The vessel went on to have a relatively short career off the coast of Scotland in the declining fishing industry, before being requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence in 1942, where she was used for salvage work, removing fallen aircraft from the seas.

In 1969, The Maritime Trust was founded in order to preserve Britain’s maritime heritage, and the Lydia Eva was purchased by the trust in 1971, as she was the last remaining vessel of her kind.

By 1986, the Lydia Eva found herself moored in West India Docks in London, following the closure of a maritime exhibition in the capital.

In 1989 the Lydia Eva Charitable Trust was formed and by 1990 the boat was purchased and returned to Great Yarmouth.

Yarmouth Stream Driftter Lydia Eva takes to the sea for the first time in over two years for sea tri

Yarmouth Stream Driftter Lydia Eva takes to the sea for the first time in over two years for sea trials.Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Following £750,000 worth of heritage lottery funded repairs, the boat reopened as a floating museum in 2009.

The Lydia Eva is open seven days a week and entry is free. For details, visit www.lydiaeva.org.uk

The Lydia Eva steams past South Quay, which is included on the walks

The Lydia Eva steams past South Quay, which is included on the walks - Credit: Nick Butcher