How this north Norfolk cargo ship evaded the Nazis
- Credit: Archant Library
The Dutch cargo ship Albatros has become a landmark in her own right having served as a floating bar, restaurant, music venue and B&B in north Norfolk.
Although she set sail for Maldon in Essex for a major refurbishment and refit in 2020 she has been moored at Wells Harbour for many years.
The Albatros might have been away from her north Norfolk home a little longer than expected due to coronavirus delays and Brexit, but today we are looking back at some old archive photos and the history of this remarkable ship.
History of the Albatros
Built in 1899, the two-masted sailing clipper provided a living for four generations ferrying cargos around Europe for nearly a century.
In the 1930s an engine was installed and the rigging reduced to just steadying sails, allowing her to sail as a tramp until after the second world war.
During the second world war, the craft smuggled Jewish refugees and political dissidents out of Denmark and brought weapons for the resistance back into the country.
A Dane named Rasmussen had bought the Albatros in 1941. Rasmussen and his shipmate Jansen were hard-drinking sailors who traded molasses from Nazi-occupied Denmark to neutral Sweden during the war.
The Germans dismissed them as a couple of harmless alcoholics and only cursorily checked the Albatros when she left or entered the country.
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When Ton Brouwer bought the boat in 1980 it had only had three previous owners in its long history. He restored her over a five-year period between 1983 and 1988.
The ship was then commissioned as a cargo vessel, sailing across the North Sea and around Europe with its captain and crew.
In 1996 after a Belgian soya contract terminated, the Albatros left Wells when an unexpected offer arrived from Greenpeace. The global campaigning network wanted to base the vessel in Amsterdam and convert it into an environmental education centre for children.
In 2005, Mr Brouwer transformed the Albatros into a popular tourist attraction and Rob Richardson, who then bought the boat in 2020, commenced the most recent refitting efforts.
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