This booklet covers the story of Norfolk’s surviving trio of wherry yachts Olive, Norada and White Moth. The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads are home to over 1000 indigenous traditional sailing craft ranging in size from the 14ft Norfolk One Design Dinghies to the mighty Norfolk wherries. The majority of these boats, including the three surviving wherry yachts, were either built or inspired by designs that were drafted in the first half of the 20th century.
The origins of the wherry yacht date back to the early 1860s when a few enterprising owners temporarily converted the holds of their trading wherries to take parties of wealthy Victorians on skippered sailing holidays during the summer months. At the end of the summer, these craft would revert to their commercial role of moving cargoes of reeds, timber and coal around the Broadland network. As demand grew, purpose built craft, known as pleasure wherries, were completed with high quality varnished teak or mahogany interiors.
By the turn of the 20th Century, approximately 100 of these wherries were available for hire complete with a skipper and attendant. However, a few Victorians demanded a more refined experience, thereby leading to the creation of the final and most luxurious incarnation of the Norfolk wherry. With their straight stem and counter stern, the carvel built wherry yachts combined the elegance of the finest cruising yachts with the internal volume and single gaff rigged main sail of their predecessors. The counter stern’s additional deck space provided the perfect place for the hirers to enjoy their cruise without being interrupted by the lowering / raising of either the mast or sail. In contrast to the previous two versions, only a handful of wherry yachts were built before White Moth became the last of her kind to be launched in June 1915.
By a curious twist of fate, the trio of surviving wherry yachts were all built by the Wroxham based boatbuilder and designer Ernest Collins. They spent over three decades within his hire fleet followed by a period of mixed fortunes in private ownership after the Second World War before they were reunited under the banner of the Wherry Yacht Charter Charitable Trust in 2012.
The Trust very kindly invited me to write this booklet to help raise awareness of this trio’s rich heritage and raise much needed funds towards their on-going preservation. This 20 page booklet includes 25 colour images and 3 line drawings depicting the internal layout of each featured wherry yacht. Copies are available for £5 including postage and packing from The Friends of Wherry Yacht Charter. Cheques for this booklet should be made payable to Wherry Yacht Charter Charitable Trust and sent to:
Friends of Wherry Yacht Charter
c/o Mark Walters
25 Abinger Way
Title: The Wherry Yachts – The last three survivors: Olive, Norada and White Moth
Publisher: Wherry Yacht Charter Charitable Trust
Format: Soft Back
Publication Date: 2016
Number of Published Pages: 20
Number of Images: 28
Remarks: In print and available direct from the Friends of Wherry Yacht Charter and on board the five wherries operated under the banner of the Wherry Yacht Charter Charitable Trust.