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Old lady returns to Maritime festival

PUBLISHED: 12:17 28 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:58 16 September 2010

An old lady of the sea is marking her 75th birthday with a return "home" to Great Yarmouth for next weekend's Maritime Festival.

The MV Coronia will operate trips out and into the outer harbour from Thursday to Monday - harking back to her early years ferrying trippers to see the seals.

An old lady of the sea is marking her 75th birthday with a return “home” to Great Yarmouth for next weekend's Maritime Festival.

The MV Coronia will operate trips out and into the outer harbour from Thursday to Monday - harking back to her early years ferrying trippers to see the seals.

Built at Fellows Shipbuilders in Steam Mill Lane, Cobholm, in 1935 to carry 250 passengers, she was originally named the Brit II after the Britannia Pier.

The ship was used to take holidaymakers out to see the seals, departing from the town hall and stopping off at Britannia Pier to take on more passengers for a two-hour trip, twice a day, for five busy seasons until the summer of 1939.

Nick Pownall, site assistant at the Maritime Festival said: “I was on the Brit's maiden voyage on June 23, 1935, out to see the seals with my father, and enjoyed a number of trips on her until the second world war came along. I have avidly followed her story ever since.”

During the war, she became the HM Tender Watchful and was stationed at the wartime naval base in Great Yarmouth where she became the base ship for the fleet and was re-painted in battleship grey.

In 1940 she made two trips across the channel, rescuing 900 servicemen from the French beaches and to this day proudly flies the flag of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships.

At the end of the war she resumed her leisure work in Yarmouth, but was later sold and spent many years doing cruises off Yorkshire.

Several name changes saw her settle with MV Coronia in 1968. Her career took her to sunny Gibaltrar and back to Scarborough where she remains.

Meanwhile, the Southern Belle will be moored on Stonecutters Quay behind the BBC's Bang Goes the Theory Roadshow and will operate river harbour trips and Breydon Water trips on Saturday at 10.40am and 3.15pm, and on Sunday at 10.40am and 3.35pm.

Breydon Water trips lasting one hour will be available on Saturday at 1.25pm, and on Sunday at 1.10pm. Tickets can be purchased on board from the original 1920s' ticketing systemcosting £5 for adults and £3 for children.

The MV Coronia will be running seagoing trips to the outer harbour from Thursday to Monday at 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm. The trip will last 1½ hours and costs £5 for adults and £3 for children.

Visitors can also go aboard the three-masted Russian replica frigate, the Shtandart - a replica of the first flagship built for Peter the Great in 1703, and visit local fishing legend the Lydia Eva. The event comes with all the usual seafaring frills from shanty singers to Punch and Judy, displays, stalls and entertainment.

l For more information visit www.maritime-festival.co.uk

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