The county of Norfolk is famous for its beautiful network of man-made Broads. The waterways were formed in medieval times when peat was dug out of the land to use as fuel for heating and cooking.
The Broads provide sailing routes through Norfolk and Suffolk and are Britain’s largest protected wetland. Thousands of tourists flock to the county every year to enjoy boating holidays on 120 miles of navigable waterway.
In years gone by The Broads were vital as a means of transporting cargo to and from the coast. Last week, Norfolk’s 116 year old wherry Albion once again carried precious cargo. The wherry set sail with the first barrels of a new ale, brewed in the boat’s honour, to one of the Norfolk Broads pubs in which it will be sold.
The new ‘Jenny Morgan’ ale has been brewed by the Green Jack brewery in Lowestoft to help raise money for the Norfolk Wherry Trust, which originally restored and now maintains the wherry Albion as a living piece of Norfolk’s waterway and transport heritage.
The charitable ale was sailed from the Albion’s Ludham base and greeted at Ranworth Staithe by the Gold Star Morris who, in traditional May Day style, ceremoniously danced the barrels up to the village pub The Malsters.
Green Jack founder and brewer Tim Dunford has had a fondness for the wherry Albion since he was a boy and used to fish from the deck when she was at Lake Lothing in Lowestoft for winter maintenance. He has created this new ale, which is traditional in style but with a fruity hop character, and named it ‘Jenny Morgan’ after the 1700s folk art figure who was adopted as a mascot by many Norfolk wherryman. To this day her figure is still featured on the wind vane which flies atop Albion’s mast.
For every cask of Jenny Morgan sold the brewery will donate £5 to the Norfolk Wherry Trust to help it continue in its mission to keep the Albion sailing and open to visitors.
Wherries are a famous part of Norfolk’s heritage. This year marks the 65th anniversary since Norfolk Wherry Trust acquired the Albion and restored her to former glory. If you’re planning a trip along the Norfolk Broads this summer, stop off and have a cold pint of Jenny Morgan ale and you’ll be helping to maintain the Albion for future generations to enjoy.
Step on board
In the Edwardian era local wherry skippers used to scrub out the boat hold and remove cargo debris so they could take holidaymakers on sailing trips and earn some extra money. You can still follow in their footsteps today as the Wherry Albion is available to charter from May to September. There are also a number of planned day cruises and open events taking place between now and the end of August.
For more information visit www.wherryalbion.com
Walk the Wherryman’s Way
The Wherryman’s Way was named after these iconic vessels as it leads you through the heart of the broads and the River Yare along which they once sailed. There are a number of both short and long walks along this Norfolk Trail, which runs from Norwich to Great Yarmouth, with unique way-makers to guide you to sculptures and information panels, which tell the tales of days gone by and the wherries and wherrymen that once plied the waterways.
Visit www.norfolktrails.co.uk for more information.