Festival celebrates maritime history

Fans of all things nautical will be heading along the coast to Wells next month for the annual Maritime Heritage Festival.

Organised by the charity Rescue Wooden Boats, there will be at least 18 historic local wooden crab boats and whelkers gathered on Tugboat pontoon, arriving on Friday, July 22, and being on display on July 23 and 24.

There will be a spectacular flotilla on the Saturday, starting at 2pm when all the boats will motor in convoy to the harbour mouth and back so they can be viewed by visitors.

Wendy Pritchard, one of the charity’s trustees,  said: “The flotilla will be led by our two flagships, Dunkirk Little Ship and former relief lifeboat at Wells, Lucy Lavers, and the former Wells whelker, Harvester.

“There will be plenty of information available about the boats and our maritime heritage, and we are delighted there will be members of the fishing and boatbuilding families who worked or built these boats joining us.”

As well as the boats, there will be lots of other activities to entertain, including food and drink stalls and performances by the Nelson Shantymen and Irish folk singer Anto Morra.

Looking ahead, the charity will also be represented at Wells Carnival from August 2 to August 6 and is all set to start renovating another whelker, Bessie, which was also involved in the Dunkirk evacuation.

Volunteers are always welcome. If you would enjoy helping in any way, please email or call the honorary secretary on 01485 210196.

Charities’ chance to win a slice of MP’s marathon cash

Good causes in north Norfolk are being invited to put in a bid for a share of their local MP’s marathon charity pot.

Last year Duncan Baker raised £38,000 which was split between 26 charities in his first ever attempt at the famous endurance event.

This year he is doing the same – but with a twist as he aims to raise £5000 in the final, 26th, mile to help Ukrainian refugees being hosted in Norfolk.

He said: “It was tough last year. My legs were completely shot by 22 miles,  and I initially didn’t want to do it again.  But I wanted to finish it to ensure all 26 charities got their money.

“I beat my target of £26,000 so after the success I wanted to do  it this year because a lot of local charities are still suffering after the pandemic and are now facing the cost of living crisis. There are a lot of unsung causes out there I want to help.”

The Ukrainian connection is strengthened because Duncan is hosting a refugee mum Anna Kolomiichuk and her six-year-old son Sviatik – and has seen at first hand the needs of displaced families.

They came without even the basics such as shoes, hairdryers and toiletries. So he wanted to raise funds to support refugees through the Norfolk Community Foundation’s Supporting Ukraine in Norfolk fund.

Duncan said training for last year’s event had been easier, because Parliament was shut during Covid. Now it was functioning again he was having to fit sessions into already long days, with early morning and late night runs.

Local causes can apply for a slice of the marathon money via Duncan’s website page or  Facebook and Twitter feeds by a deadline of 5pm on Thursday June 30.  The successful causes will be chosen at Holt Youth Centre on July 1.

Walk in some big footsteps

A fundraising walk with a mammoth twist is happening along the north Norfolk coast this summer, to help raise essential funds for East Anglian charity Break.

The Mammoth Hike and Beach Clean, which takes place on Sunday, July 3, is a 13-mile route starting at 8am outside Barclays Bank on Holt High Street and finishing at approximately 12.30pm at Cromer Pier.

The route takes in countryside and heathland around Weybourne before picking up the Norfolk Coastal Path and presenting walkers with a clifftop meander through Sheringham, West Runton and the infamous Beeston Bump.

As walkers approach Cromer they will drop down to sea level to complete a 1.5-mile litter-pick and beach-clean along the final stretch, before being rewarded with a stroll along Cromer Pier.

The hike will also include the opportunity to visit three steppe mammoth sculptures forming part of the GoGoDiscover trail, which sees a prehistoric posse of 79 sculptures hit the streets of Norwich and Norfolk between June 27 and September 10.

The walk’s stretch near West Runton is especially pertinent since the oldest and largest fossilised mammoth skeleton ever found in the UK was discovered there, along north Norfolk’s Deep History Coast.

Sarah Bunn, fundraising manager for Break, comments: “With north Norfolk being home to the Deep History Coast and steppe mammoth sculptures featuring on the trail for the first time this year, we felt that a coastal fundraising walk could be a really community-spirited, fun event for people to take part in.

“Not only will the walk present an opportunity to spot three of our trail mammoths but it will end with a beach clean to help protect our valuable coastline – all while walkers can raise essential funds for Break, which supports young adults leaving care.”

The cost to join the Mammoth Hike and Beach Clean is £20 per adult and Break asks that you aim to raise £100 alongside your entry fee. Under-18s pay £10 and under-10s are free. Places include a medal and basic refreshments. Adults will also receive a T-shirt.

t To sign up or for more information visit

t For more information about Break visit

Wreck of historic royal ship discovered off our coast

The wreck of one of the most famous ships of the 17th century – which sank 340 years ago while carrying the future King of England James Stuart – has been discovered off the coast of Norfolk in the UK, it can be revealed.

Since running aground on a sandbank on May 6, 1682, the wreck of the warship the Gloucester has lain half-buried on the seabed, its exact whereabouts unknown until brothers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell, with their friend James Little, found it after a four-year search.

Due to the age and prestige of the ship, the condition of the wreck, the finds already rescued, and the accident’s political context, the discovery is described by maritime history expert Prof Claire Jowitt, of the University of East Anglia (UEA), as the most important maritime discovery since the Mary Rose.

The Gloucester represents an important ‘almost’ moment in British political history: a royal shipwreck causing the very near-death of the Catholic heir to the Protestant throne at a time of great political and religious tension.

Now a major exhibition is planned for Spring 2023, the result of a partnership between the Barnwell brothers, Norfolk Museums Service, and academic partner UEA. Running from February to July at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, the exhibition will display finds from the wreck – including the bell that confirmed the ship’s identity – and share ongoing historical, scientific and archaeological research.

Prof Jowitt, a world-leading authority on maritime cultural history, is a co-curator of the exhibition. “Because of the circumstances of its sinking, this can be claimed as the single most significant historic maritime discovery since the raising of the Mary Rose in 1982,” she said. “The discovery promises to fundamentally change understanding of 17th-century social, maritime and political history.

“It is an outstanding example of underwater cultural heritage of national and international importance. A tragedy of considerable proportions in terms of loss of life, both privileged and ordinary, the full story of the Gloucester’s last voyage and the impact of its aftermath needs re-telling, including its cultural and political importance, and legacy. We will also try to establish who else died and tell their stories, as the identities of a fraction of the victims are currently known.”

The Barnwell brothers are Aylsham-based printers and live in Wroxham. They are licensed divers and Honorary Fellows in the School of History at UEA. Lincoln said he was partly inspired to search for the wreck after watching the lifting of the Mary Rose on television as a child.

Julian and Lincoln Barnwell with some of their discoveries. PICTURE: UEA

“It was our fourth dive season looking for Gloucester,” he said. “We were starting to believe that we were not going to find her, we’d dived so much and just found sand. On my descent to the seabed the first thing I spotted were large cannon laying on white sand, it was awe- inspiring and really beautiful.

“It instantly felt like a privilege to be there, it was so exciting. We were the only people in the world at that moment in time who knew where the wreck lay. That was special and I’ll never forget it. Our next job was to identify the site as the Gloucester.”

Julian added: “When we decided to search for the Gloucester we had no idea how significant she was in history. We had read that the Duke of York was onboard but that was it. We were confident it was the Gloucester, but there are other wreck sites out there with cannons, so it still needed to be confirmed.

James, Duke of York 1633-1701. PICTURE: Royal Museums, Greenwich

“There is still a huge amount of knowledge to be gained from the wreck, which will benefit Norfolk and the nation. We hope this discovery and the stories that are uncovered will inform and inspire future generations.”

Lord Dannatt, Norfolk Deputy Lieutenant and longstanding resident of the county, is lending his skills and support to the historic rescue project. As former head of the British Army, he works with charities and organisations that have links to the armed services.

“This is going to be Norfolk’s Mary Rose,” said Lord Dannatt. “Julian and Lincoln have touched history, history that could have changed the course of this nation. It’s such an amazing story to tell. Our aim is to bring that story to life and to share it with as many people as possible.”

The Gloucester was commissioned in 1652, built at Limehouse in London, and launched in 1654. In 1682 it was selected to carry James Stuart, Duke of York, to Edinburgh to collect his heavily pregnant wife and their households. The aim was to bring them back to King Charles II’s court in London in time, it was hoped, for the birth of a legitimate male heir.

The ship had set sail from Portsmouth with the Duke and his entourage joining it off Margate, having travelled by yacht from London. At 5.30am on May 6, the Gloucester ran aground some 45km off Great Yarmouth following a dispute about navigating the treacherous Norfolk sandbanks. The Duke, a former Lord High Admiral, had argued with the pilot for control over the ship’s course.

Within an hour the vessel sank with the loss of hundreds of the crew and passengers. The Duke barely survived, having delayed abandoning ship until the last minute.

As well as the Duke of York, the Gloucester carried a number of prominent English and Scottish courtiers including John Churchill, later the 1st Duke of Marlborough.

Diarist and naval administrator Samuel Pepys, who witnessed events from another ship in the fleet, wrote his own account – describing the harrowing experience for victims and survivors, with some picked up “half dead” from the water.

Together with their late father Michael, and two friends including James Little, a former Royal Navy submariner and diver, the Barnwell brothers found the wreck site in 2007, with the Gloucester split down the keel and remains of the hull submerged in sand.

The ship’s bell, manufactured in 1681, was later recovered, and in 2012 it was used by the Receiver of Wreck and Ministry of Defence to decisively identify the vessel.

The bell which helped identify The Gloucester. PICTURE: UEA

Due to the time taken to confirm the identity of the ship and the need to protect an ‘at risk’ site, which lies in international waters, it is only now that its discovery can be made public. As well as the Receiver of Wreck and Ministry of Defence, the wreck has been declared to Historic England.

Following the discovery, the brothers completed an underwater archaeology course with the Nautical Archaeology Society.

Artefacts rescued and conserved include clothes and shoes, navigational and other professional naval equipment, personal possessions, and many wine bottles.

One of the bottles bears a glass seal with the crest of the Legge family – ancestors of George Washington, the first US President. The crest was a forerunner to the Stars and Stripes flag. Uniquely, in addition there were also some unopened bottles, with wine still inside -¬ offering exciting opportunities for future research.

A bottle with the Legge family crest. PICTURE: Norfolk Historic Shipwrecks

The accompanying historical research project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust and led by Prof Jowitt, will explore not only the failures of command at sea before the Gloucester sank, but conspiracy theories about the tragedy’s causes and its political consequences.

It is also hoped that UEA’s scientific expertise and facilities will be used to analyse some of the finds from the wreck.

The Ministry of Defence’s position is that all artefacts remain the property of the Ministry of Defence; however, where items are positively identified as personal property, ownership will then default to the Crown.

Partners already involved in the landmark project alongside the Barnwells, UEA and Norfolk Museums Service include the Ministry of Defence, the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, York Archaeology, the Leverhulme Trust and Maritime Archaeology Trust. The exhibition is being generously supported by Alan Boswell Group and Birketts LLP.

The wreck of the Gloucester off Great Yarmouth, 6 May, 1682 by Johan Danckerts, 1682. PICTURE: Royal Museums, Greenwich.

Jubilee concert will help foodbank

St Joseph’s Church, in Sheringham, will be extending its Platinum Jubilee celebrations with a concert by the St Austin’s Choir on June 11.

The choir, from Wakefield, will be performing during a tour of Norfolk to raise money for the North Norfolk Foodbank.

St Joseph’s is the local collection and distribution point for the foodbank and the concert, which starts at 3pm, will help boost funds to buy more essentials for families in need.

The programme will have a jubilee theme with some of the favourite music of the past

70 years and it is an opportunity to support those in the community whose current situation means parties are unlikely.

All are welcome and concertgoers are asked to make a donation and bring along any non-perishable food items they can spare for the bank. 

Prosecutions for boating offences

Thirteen boaters have recently been prosecuted for navigation offences on the broads

Of those prosecuted, there were numerous counts of failing to navigate with care and caution (15 counts), of breaking the speed limit and creating excess wash (12 counts) and of failing to respond to a request for information from rangers (two counts).

The offences took place at Brundall, Reedham, Salhouse, Horning, Breydon Water, Barton Broad, Oulton Broad and on the Rivers Ant and Waveney.

Magistrates imposed a total of £16,898 worth of fines for these offences. This combined figure includes court fines (£8,121) and costs (£6,291), victim surcharges (£786) and compensation towards the cost of damages to victims (£1,700).

Jon Hopes, Broads Authority senior ranger for compliance and safety, said: “It’s important to make clear that prosecution is always a last resort, used once all other conversations and avenues have failed.

“The Broads Authority takes these offences seriously and we hope these prosecutions send a clear message that keeping to speed limits, and navigating with care and attention helps to protect the Broads National Park and all its users.”

The authority asks people to report anyone seen speeding or driving carelessly to Broads Control on 01603 756056.

Memories galore as teams reunite

On a glorious blue-sky Saturday at the end of April, Broadland Hockey Club celebrated some amazing milestone moments at its home club venue Taverham Recreational Facility (TRF).

Having been delayed due to the pandemic, the club was finally able to mark the 30th anniversary of the ladies’ hockey team and an extraordinary 100-year history of the Norwich Exiles men’s hockey team with a fun play day, with drinks and a barbecue.

Forming a century ago, the original Norwich Exiles joined with Vagabonds ladies in the 1980s, then later in 1990 with Norwich Earlham Hockey club.

It was in 1991 that an amalgamation formed, bringing all three under the new name of Broadland Hockey Club.

A few years later, when the charity TRF was created and the new facilities were built at Taverham, it became the club’s new home.

More than 140 people attended the anniversary event – a mix of past and current players, friends, and family. The day started with two friendly hockey matches – one for women and one for men, with a mix of players of all levels and ages.

Many memories were shared on the day, aided by decades of handbooks, memorabilia and photos displayed in the clubhouse reminding players of the good times and sporting moments achieved through the years.

Past player shirts dating back from the ’80s also hung along the pitch side (pictured above) as a reminder of the change in sports fashion and the history of the club.

A fun day was had by all and was a testament to all the hard work from the many club committee members, coaches and team captains that have managed, trained and supported the club over so many years.

With nearly 80 members, three ladies’ hockey teams and one men’s team playing in the East Hockey League, the club is very proud to still be going strong.

The Exiles men’s team even finished the season with promotion to Division 3 – the second promotion in two years! 

Veterans of BHC and current Chairman

t To find out more about Broadland Hockey Club, contact For Taverham Recreational Facility, email

Council move is on the Horizon

Broadland District Council looks as though it will be off to a new home after councillors voted in favour of buying the Horizon building (pictured) on Broadland Business Park.

Although it has joint staff with South Norfolk Council, the two authorities have separate offices, in Thorpe St Andrew and Long Stratton, and buying the building would allow them to bring everyone together in one place.

Concerns had been raised about its suitability, but both councils voted in favour of the move and Broadland leader Shaun Vincent said: “This is a really positive move for Broadland District Council and will save taxpayers millions of pounds over the coming years.

“Currently, our workforce that supports both Broadland and South Norfolk councils is operating from offices at Thorpe St Andrew and Long Stratton. As part of our councils’ collaborative journey, we have been looking at how we can work more efficiently and cost-effectively by sharing one building.”

He said the benefits of bringing the staff together included “huge financial savings in both capital and revenue expenditure” as well as decreasing their carbon footprint by 84pc, increasing efficiency and making it more accessible.

Both councils’ offices need extensive refurbishment and carry heavy maintenance costs and the council says that the lower running cost of the new building will slash these expenses.

The Horizon building is two miles from Thorpe Lodge, is accessible by public transport, has plenty of parking and for two thirds of the residents of South Norfolk is the same distance, if not closer, for travel by car than Long Stratton.

Horizon Building