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Wherry gets makeover at Oulton Broad

PUBLISHED: 14:37 16 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:30 05 July 2010

A 111-year-old grand lady of the Broads has just emerged from her winter make over ready to flaunt herself for the summer season.

The 23-ton, black sailed, former trading wherry, Albion, has undergone major surgery as part of a £100,000, 10-year restoration project.

A 111-year-old grand lady of the Broads has just emerged from her winter make over ready to flaunt herself for the summer season.

The 23-ton, black sailed, former trading wherry, Albion, has undergone major surgery as part of a £100,000, 10-year restoration project.

Norfolk Wherry Trust, which maintains and sails her, has spent a record £70,000 on replacing her keel and rotten timbers over the last two winters.

The work was carried out by master shipwright Maynard Watson and his team who live in the Broads, at the Excelsior Yard, on Oulton Broad, where she was built in 1898.

During the winter of 2008 they replaced her wooden keel with a steel model designed by Trust volunteer shipwright Paul Reynolds to correct a “hog” or deformity which could have had dire consequences for the integrity of her hull. From October to January this year the team have replaced the all important stem post and heavy mooring timbers.

Roger Watts, the Trust's project co-ordinator, said: “This is the biggest job we have ever had to undertake and we are still not finished. As Albion gets older the work becomes more drastic and expensive. It is a bit like maintaining the Forth Bridge. By the end of this year we will be nearing the end of a 10-year project which has addressed major decay in her hull timbers. However, we still have other, less urgent, but still major and expensive works to tackle. We depend entirely on our volunteers and the public's financial support to keep this majestic old lady afloat as probably the Broads' best known icon.”

After her relaunch at the end of January Albion was at Oulton Broad. Now safely back at her Ludham base, the giant 60 ft sailing barge, the oldest wherry on the Broads, will be prepared for this coming charter season by volunteers who are members of the Norfolk Wherry Trust.

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