Oak For Albion – Norfolk Wherry Trust

The Norfolk Wherry Trust purchased 80mm quarter sawn oak from us in order to make replacement winch posts for the Wherry Albion. The above image shows the refurbished metalwork with the new winch posts (although the majority of the posts are below the deck level).The image also shows the main winch barrel used for raising the sail and, underneath, the pattern bar that provides a low gearing to allow the sail to be adjusted under load.  In order to lower the mast to pass under the bridges on the Norfolk Broads, the winch barrel swings to the side to let the mast come between the posts.

Originally built as a cargo carrying sailing barge The Albion, a Norfolk Wherry was rescued by The Norfolk Wherry Trust in 1949. Maintained in sailing condition by volunteers,  her vast black sail and hull measure some 60’ long by 15’ wide. Constructed mainly of oak she plied her trade along the River Waveney.  Known as the  ‘black sailed trader’  she is one of only two remaining trading barges built specifically for the Broads.

Launched in October 1988 at a cost of £455.00 she was commissioned for the firm of Bungay Malsters   specifically to navigate the inland waterways of Norfolk and Suffolk.  She provided the means to transport all manner of goods from village to village and port to port.

The original white the sails were prone to rotting due to UV exposure, so it was decided to coat them with herring oil which effectively made them red.  However, rodents liked the flavour and tended to eat the sails!  Latterly they were coated with pitch making the sail black.  Hence the term black sailed traders.

Albion is available for charter during summer months.   A qualified, experienced skipper and mate sail the boat but the trust are keen for people to participate as assistants to the crew.  Sailing the Norfolk Broads on Albion is a very enjoyable experience and is highly recommended.  In fact BBC Countryfile Magazine named Albion as one of the Top 10 Boat Trips in the UK.

About the author

Ben Sutton has established himself as independent hardwood timber merchant and supplier with a solid reputation built up over the last 20 years. He is committed to providing a bespoke and professional service to his clients at all times, whilst maintaining the highest quality product. Follow Ben on LinkedIn.