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Lydia Eva back on Lowestoft waters

PUBLISHED: 18:27 21 March 2008 | UPDATED: 19:57 05 July 2010

THE last survivor of the thousands of steam herring drifters which once thronged the ports of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth took to the water again this week.

THE last survivor of the thousands of steam herring drifters which once thronged the ports of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth took to the water again this week.

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 round the country flocked to the East Anglian ports.

However, when the Lydia Eva was built in 1930 the tide was already turning for the industry and just eight years after she was built 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 £1m 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. And on Tuesday the vessel was carefully launched back in to the water at Lowestoft.

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.”

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