Weekend festival set to celebrate maritime history

The picturesque harbour at Wells-next-the-Sea, with boats basking in beautiful sunshine. Picture: DE

The Maritime Heritage Festival is set to be held in Wells - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

A weekend-long festival is set to celebrate the Norfolk's coast's rich maritime history. 

The Maritime Heritage Festival will take place in Wells from July 23-24, with a heavy focus on the area's decades-old links to the fishing and boat-building industries. 

A previous wooden boat flotilla in Wells

A previous wooden boat flotilla in Wells - Credit: Rescue Wooden Boats

In what promises to be the highlight of the weekend, around 20 wooden vessels - all with local connections - will assemble at the East Quay off Tugboat Yard.

Members of fishing and boat-building families will be invited aboard ahead of a 2pm departure on Saturday, July 23. 

Led by Dunkirk veteran lifeboat 'Lucy Lavers' and whelker 'Harvester', the convoy will briefly set sail to the mouth of the outer harbour, before returning. 

The celebration has been organised by the charity Rescue Wooden Boats, in collaboration with Wells Harbour.

Wendy Pritchard, one of the founding trustees of Rescue Wooden Boats

Wendy Pritchard, one of the founding trustees of Rescue Wooden Boats - Credit: Wendy Pritchard

Wendy Pritchard, one of the founding trustees of Rescue Wooden Boats, said of the flotilla: "It's going to be quite an emotional moment for these people, because they will be on boats their families once owned or built. 

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"Everyone involved is really excited about the occasion. It should be a real spectacle."

The maritime festival would usually form part of the popular Wells Carnival week, but has been brought forward this year due to tide times. 

Off the water, a host of entertainment will be on offer throughout the weekend including live music and children's activities, as well as food and drink from vendors including Norfolk Thai. 

Black Shuck distillery will also be in attendance to launch its new Lucy Lavers rum. 

"It's going to be quite a party and everyone is welcome to come along," added Ms Pritchard. 

"This is a way of getting people together to celebrate what life used to be like in the 1900s, and the craftmanship that went into making these boats. 

"People are vey passionate about these amazing wooden boats, some of which are still used for fishing while others are used for pleasure."

A previous wooden boat flotilla in Wells

A previous wooden boat flotilla in Wells - Credit: Rescue Wooden Boats

Some of the boats taking part in the flotilla are owned by Rescue Wooden Boats but most are privately owned. 

Trips aboard Lucy Lavers can be booked by visiting curlewcoastalcharters.co.uk.

To find out more about the work of Rescue Wooden Boats, visit rescuewoodenboats.com.