Lydia Eva heads home - under own steam
FOR her supporters it was one of the proudest moments in 20 years of fund-raising and heartfelt effort.A plume of dark smoke billowing from her funnel was the signal that the Lydia Eva had embarked on a landmark voyage, which was the first she had made under her own steam in many decades.
FOR her supporters it was one of the proudest moments in 20 years of fund-raising and heartfelt effort.
A plume of dark smoke billowing from her funnel was the signal that the Lydia Eva had embarked on a landmark voyage, which was the first she had made under her own steam in many decades.
Saturday morning's journey up the east coast to Great Yarmouth was a historic moment in the remarkable story of the �1.2m restoration of the world's last surviving steam-powered herring drifter - and enthusiasts were on hand to enjoy the sight of the Lydia Eva heading out to sea, proving her steam engine had been finally restored to full working order.
She manoeuvred smoothly along Lake Lothing and through the open bascule bridge at Lowestoft before leaving the harbour for the North Sea and making the short trip home to Yarmouth, where people lined the harbour mouth to witness her arrival.
As an icon of the era when the port's herring fishing still thrived, her preservation is of historical importance to the east coast.
The Lydia Eva is now a floating museum moored at Great Yarmouth's South Quay, attracting 5,500 visitors in her first season last year. This summer poignantly marks her 80th birthday.
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Dona Watson, of the Lydia Eva Trust, said the arrival of the vessel under her own steam was a joy to see.
'It couldn't have gone better,' she said. 'It was absolutely perfect. It is something we've strived for, we always said it was going to happen and now it has. It was brilliant, very emotional.'
Mrs Watson said it was a major milestone, yet did not mark the end of the story, as the trust continues to work on the restoration.
She said: 'There's always more work to be done. Next we've got to do the crew's quarters out.'
However, she added: 'It's the beginning of the end. It's just the first 80 years.'
The Lydia Eva will reopen as a museum for this season on Tuesday with free entry, although donations are welcome. From then it will be open Tuesdays-Sundays from 10am-4pm until after October half-term.
Visitors can explore the entire vessel, including the engine room, wheelhouse and galley, and for the first time groups can request evening visits. Steaming weekends are also being arranged.
The trust is looking for volunteer crew members for the summer.
Contact Mrs Watson on 07901 915390.
The Lydia Eva was built in 1930 for Gorleston fisherman Harry Eastick and named after his daughter. During that era, more than 1,000 fishing boats thronged the ports of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft as the herring fishing industry boomed. Her fish hold on one day in 1937 held a season's record catch of 220,000 herring.
When the industry collapsed at the end of that decade the Lydia Eva passed into the ownership of the RAF and then the Royal Navy before finally being laid up for sale. She was bought by the Maritime Trust but her future became uncertain in 1986 and three years later the Lydia Eva Trust was formed by a group of local people.
Since then the trust has worked tirelessly to secure funding, including a �839,000 grant from the National Lottery, which has enabled her to be rebuilt at Small & Co in Lowestoft. She was on display in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft until 1999 when she was no longer safe to go on board.