Photo gallery: A special cargo for the wherry Albion on a Broads cruise back in time...

Norfolk Wherry Trust marking 65th anniversary of rescuing the 116 yr old wherry Albion on May Day.
Arriving at Ranworth Staithe carrying a cask of Jenny Morgan beer from the Green Jack brewery in Lowestoft.

Picture: James Bass Norfolk Wherry Trust marking 65th anniversary of rescuing the 116 yr old wherry Albion on May Day. Arriving at Ranworth Staithe carrying a cask of Jenny Morgan beer from the Green Jack brewery in Lowestoft. Picture: James Bass

Friday, May 2, 2014
11:30 AM

There are certainly quicker ways to transport a firkin of beer between two Broadland villages – but none in quite such style.

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With the nine gallons of Green Jack Brewery’s special Jenny Morgan beer safely loaded on her foredeck the wherry Albion slipped away from her base on Ludham’s Womack Water bound for Ranworth.

On a still May Day morning, there was not so much as a groan or creak from her sail and passengers on the ceremonial journey were able to enjoy three blissful hours of birdsong and silence save for the occasional passing motor cruisers.

The VIP on board was Tim Dunford, boss of the Lowestoft brewery, who has crafted the hoppy bitter to raise funds for the upkeep of Albion, one of two remaining trading wherries. One hundred firkins of the specially brewed beer will be sold to pubs across the region with £5 from each one going to Norfolk Wherry Trust. Taking personal responsibility for the delivery of the first one to the Maltsters pub in Ranworth, award-winning brewer Mr Dunford, 49, revealed his lifelong affection for the wherry.

“When I was a youngster I used to fish from the deck of Albion when she was at Lake Lothing in Lowestoft for winter maintenance,” he recalled.

The name of the beer, brewed with a blend of English and Polish hops, pays homage to folk song character Jenny Morgan who is immortalised as the figure on the wind vane at the top of Albion’s mast.

Her arrival at Ranworth’s Malthouse Staithe was greeted by the Golden Star Morris troupe from Norwich who ceremonially danced the firkin to the pub. Albion skipper and trust director Henry Gowman said the trip also marked the 65th anniversary of the month the 116 year old wherry was rescued by the trust.

In the early 20th century, there were still more than 300 wherries carrying varied cargoes up and down the rivers. But by the time the trust was formed Albion was one of the last of the solid oak giants left.

Most of the funds come from charters, but the trust also relies on donations and bequests. For details visit http://www.wherryalbion.com/

Are you involved in a project preserving part of Norfolk life? Email stephen.pullinger@archant.co.uk

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