As a piece of real history I hope you can see the Norfolk Broads sailing wherry “Albion” on your visit. You cannot miss her if you see her, she is so much larger than any other sailing vessel.
Albion is over a hundred years old, having been built in 1898, really a product of another age. She was built to carry cargo to and from Yarmouth to all points of the broads, even up to the top of the River Ant, despite her considerable bulk. Gay’s Staithe, on the western end of Barton Broad, was built for the loading of sugar beet onto wherries like Albion.
The other noticeable feature of her is that her sail is dark brown, almost black in colour. This is the preservative used by the commercial wherries to ensure a long life for their ‘engine’.
The reason that Albion is here at all is as a results of some far sighted people who could see that, as the age of commercial sail finally came to an end with the Second World War, all trace of the hundreds of years of history would be lost if something was not done. So, in 1949, a Trust was established by local people with the objective of preserving something of the tradition. After some searching the newly formed Trust obtained Albion, which had been renamed ‘Plane’ at the time, and within eight months of the formation of the Trust, she had been refitted and was back in ‘commercial’ service. I put the word in inverted commas as the service lost money from the start and, after a period, she was converted to carry paying passengers.
In 1981 the Trust was able to establish a long term base at Womack Water near Ludham. To read more about her, visit the official Norfolk Wherry Trust pages here.