Cley Harbour rejuvenated after many years of disuse

Photo credit: Chris Taylor
Photo credit: Chris Taylor

Norfolk’s Cley Harbour has received its largest traditional working sailing vessel for more than 60 years, marking its return to activity after falling into disuse.

The Coastal Exploration Company owned 30ft open wooden gaff rigged whelk boat Salford came into the harbour to deliver a cargo of North Norfolk beer from Barsham Brewery to the Cley Windmill.

Simon Read, chairman of Cley Harbour committee said: “This is the largest traditional working sailing vessel to visit Cley in over 60 years and will be mark a key moment in the rejuvenation of Cley Harbour.”

The clinker-built traditional Norfolk fishing boat has remained in and around Norfolk’s waters since it was built in the 1950s and was recently in the filming of The Personal History of David Copperfield, produced by FilmNation Entertainment and Film4.

Centuries ago, Cley-next-the-Sea was one of the most important ports in Great Britain, but siltation and land reclamation over the centuries has since led Cley’s estuary to become unnavigable.

In 2014, a group of volunteers got together with the aim of bringing this once-thriving part of Cley back to life. Donations were pledged, working parties organised and gradually Cley Harbour has become busy with a range of visiting boats.

“Just as our land has been farmed for centuries we are thrilled the beer we produce can be delivered under sail as it would have in years gone by,” said Susanna Soames, Barsham Brewery director.

Wildlife has also benefited from the restoration work, with otters and kingfishers now regularly seen.

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