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Lydia Eva back on water

PUBLISHED: 11:23 21 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:40 03 July 2010

THE last survivor of the thousands of steam herring drifters which once thronged the harbour at Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft has taken to the water.

In the early 1900s the fishing industry was booming and more than 1,000 drifters could descend on the east coast at any given time.

THE last survivor of the thousands of steam herring drifters which once thronged the harbour at Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft has taken to the water.

In the early 1900s the fishing industry was booming and more than 1,000 drifters could descend on the east coast at any given time.

With hauls of up to 800,000 herrings netted each day workers from around the country flocked to the ports.

However, when the Lydia Eva was built in 1930 the tide was already turning for the industry and just eight years later she had netted her last catch.

The fishing vessel was saved by members of the Lydia Eva Trust and is now officially registered as one of the 60 most important historic ships in the country.

Since March last year, the Lydia Eva has been hauled out of the water for a £1 million restoration largely funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

At Small and Company's Lowestoft slipway large areas of rotten steel have been cut away from underneath the 78-year-old hull and replaced with sound new steel.

The work has been slow and difficult because of the need to keep as much of the historic ship as possible.

On Tuesday this week the vessel was carefully launched back in to the water at Lowestoft's docks.

Project manager Mike Franks said: “All went perfectly. We were afraid that some of the old rivets would have been strained and would leak but she is not taking in a drop.”

The next stage of the renovation will see the wooden decks laid, the cabin fitted out, new masts put up, and the engine and boiler overhauled.

A new museum in the hold will tell the story of the Lydia Eva and the great herring fishing in which she took part.

Trust secretary Laurence Monkhouse said: “We expect sea trials to take place during the late summer.

“After this the Lydia Eva will steam to her home town of Great Yarmouth and she will be on view at the September Yarmouth Maritime Festival.

“She will then go on public display in Great Yarmouth and in Lowestoft as a floating museum, alternating with our other ship, the Lowestoft diesel trawler Mincarlo.”

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