Raise glasses to Lydia Eva

Dressed in her Sunday best the Lydia Eva will celebrate her 80th birthday like most ladies her age - with a party.Hundreds of people are due to raise a glass to the world's last remaining steam drifter as she gears up for a weekend of maritime merrymaking focussed on Great Yarmouth's South Quay.

Dressed in her Sunday best the Lydia Eva will celebrate her 80th birthday like most ladies her age - with a party.

Hundreds of people are due to raise a glass to the world's last remaining steam drifter as she gears up for a weekend of maritime merrymaking focussed on Great Yarmouth's South Quay.

Decked in flags and bunting volunteers have been busy with mops and polish to make sure she is immaculate for the celebrations which will also mark the culmination of a huge restoration project to get her steaming again.

Enthusiasts are travelling from all over the country - toasting her milestone with a specially brewed Lydia Eva Ale from Blackfriars Brewery in the town.

Trustee Dona Watson said the ship would be getting up steam all weekend from today building to Sunday's main event with shanty singers and Hemsby herring boys cooking up a tasty snacks on the quayside.

Although not moving people will be able to see the engines firing and get close to the dirty outmoded form of transport still so beloved by many people for its evocative bygone charm.

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Like most 80 year olds the Lydia Eva has a lifetime of stories to share with visitors through pictures, objects and tales. Faces in photographs provide flickering glimpses into her world - her life story charting the rise and fall of Yarmouth's once proud herring industry.

For ordinary folk the celebrations are a chance to reconnect with the Lydia Eva and see her in steam, while a civic reception at 3.30pm on Sunday will honour the hard grind and grants that went into her spectacular rescue from near total ruin - an achievement that was only possible thanks to the commitment of small group of friends.

The Lydia Eva is free to board but donations are encouraged. “We are not charging,” said Mrs Watson, “We just hope that people are generous, they usually are.”

She is ranked alongside the cream of the nation's craft and will be presented with a historic ship's flag honouring her place in the unique collection.

She will be steaming from 10am to 4pm today and tomorrow and 10am to 7pm on Sunday, the main celebration day.