Lydia Eva to be put to test in Lowestoft

FOR the guardians of the world's last remaining herring drifter it will be a moment to cram their knuckles into their mouths in nervous anticipation.Trials scheduled to start this week will reveal whether the Lydia Eva can sail under her own steam for the first time since she chugged out of Yarmouth harbour, a procession of tall ships in her wake, in 1978.

FOR the guardians of the world's last remaining herring drifter it will be a moment to cram their knuckles into their mouths in nervous anticipation.

Trials scheduled to start this week will reveal whether the Lydia Eva can sail under her own steam for the first time since she chugged out of Yarmouth harbour, a procession of tall ships in her wake, in 1978.

Preservationists will gather for the low key test in Lowestoft for what is being seen as the pinnacle of a �1m overhaul that has rescued the maritime treasure from near ruin.

If successful it will clear the way for her homecoming to South Quay, and a summer mooring from May 1.


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Dona Watson trustee of the Lydia Eva and Mincarlo Trust that cares for both boats said it had been 'quite something' seeing her round into the port for the Maritime Festival by tug.

But this time it is hoped she will come with a plume of steam, to the delight of supporters.

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The project, funded mainly by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will see the boat remodelled as a floating museum, open six days a week until the October half term, weather and tides permitting.

Mrs Watson said specialists had been working on the boiler and were getting close to stoking it up on open water.

'It is so exciting, she looks wonderful now,' she added.

The story of the 80-year-old boat is bound up with the rise and fall of the herring industry, fishing out of Yarmouth for only eight years when she was sold on. Named after its first owner's daughter who died four years ago she is ranked alongside Nelson's Victory among the cream of the country's maritime crop. But years of neglect put the repairs beyond the pocket of her loyal band of friends. The restoration effort was massively boosted with a �850,000 heritage lottery grant in 2007. After years of alternating between Yarmouth and Lowestoft she has made only guest appearances in Yarmouth since 2000 when her hull began taking in water.

But money and expertise are not the only things needed to secure her future and more volunteers to work as guides and sell souvenirs are needed if the museum is to be a success.

To find our more contact Dona Watson on 01493 393344 or via donawatson@btinternet.com

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