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Maritime Festival attracts 35,000

PUBLISHED: 18:48 10 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:59 03 July 2010

THE age of sail returned in spectacular style at the weekend as Great Yarmouth held its annual celebration of all things nautical.

It scenes reminiscent from the town's seafaring heyday a flotilla of ships gathered on South Quay for the Maritime Festival.

THE age of sail returned in spectacular style at the weekend as Great Yarmouth held its annual celebration of all things nautical.

It scenes reminiscent from the town's seafaring heyday a flotilla of ships gathered on South Quay for the Maritime Festival.

The balmy late summer weather helped attract a record attendance of 35,000 to the annual event which was celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Swarms of people filed alongside the quayside and clambered over vessels, including The Grand Turk, a spectacular replica of an 18th century sailing frigate.

Ships moored alongside included the three-masted barque Artemis and the Jubilee Trust's Lord Nelson, one of only two boats in the world designed to be manned by wheelchair users.

Queues formed to savour the herrings cooked by members of Hemsby Inshore Lifeboat and appreciative audiences gathered to listen to hearty renditions of sea shanties.

Period characters including naval hero Lord Nelson and members of The East Norfolk Militia rubbed shoulders with festival mascot Horatio Herring and his new wife Mrs H.

Actors Andy Andrews and Christine Bissell attracted plenty of attention wandering around in tandem squeezed into pirate ship.

“We walked all the way from Lancashire and got some funny looks on the motorway,” joked Andy.

Dawn Holden, from Yarmouth, was visiting the festival with dad Albert and children four year old Luke, Jodie, 11, and Pamela 19.

She said: “We have been coming every year since moving here, the kids have a good time and it does not cost a lot of money.”

The Wakeley family from Bradwell, are also regular visitors with mum and dad, Angela and Gary, accompanied by children Alice, eight, and 10 year old Ella.

Angela said: “We like visiting the stalls, watching the activities and cooking displays and are looking forward to going on the Grand Turk.”

Gorleston couple Gemma and James Baxter were at the festival with daughter Grace, 11, and six year old son Harvey.

Gemma said: “We come every year, Harvey really enjoys it. We like going on the ships and Grace loves the rescue dogs.”

Emma Cross, from Nottingham, was visiting the festival for the first time with four year old son Ben.

She said: “We're on holiday and it was just a co-incidence the festival happened to be on. Ben wants to have his face painted and go on the boats - he says he would like to be a pirate.”

Caister couple Peter and Jill James were taking seven year old grandaughter Lauren Bowles to the festival.

Peter said: “We were walking past the Gorleston lifeboat Samarbeta and the crew heard Lauren say she would like to look around. They kindly let us go on board, which was fascinating.”

Kirsty Burn, of festival organisers the Greater Yarmouth Tourist Authority, said: “The fact we had three fantastic sailing ships at the festival open to the public was the key thing. Many people have been saying it was the biggest and best festival yet.

“The weather was also lovely, sunny and warm, with some families spending all day enjoying the festival.”

The opening and closing ceremonies were led by 901 Troop Marine Cadets Winterton and the winner of the Mercury's Maritime festival poetry competition, Pearl Allard, had her verse, A Seashore Stroll, read out as part of the grand finale.

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