Trading Wherry built 1898 by Brighton, William, Lake Lothing, Suffolk

Ensign House flag


National Historic Fleet

Cargo Vessel

Wherry (trading)

Trading Wherry


Commercial Activity

Sail training





Web site








To be confirmed

14.98 feet (4.57 metres)

57.97 feet (17.68 metres)

4.49 feet (1.37 metres)



ALBION was built as a wherry and used to carry cargo on the inland waterways of eastern England. As road transport improved, the wherry became redundant and most were abandoned, sunk or broken up. In 1949, ALBION, one of the few traders remaining, owned by Colmans Mustard, was one of those about to be broken up when a group of enthusiasts formed The Norfolk Wherry Trust to rescue her. Equipping her with a new mast and sail, they re-conditioned her and brought back to the Broadland scene a craft that had been a distinctive feature for nearly three hundred years. She was set to work carrying cargoes on the rivers - timbers, sugar beet, building materials, etc.

ALBION was carvel built of oak with a pitch pine mast, counterbalanced on to a tabernacle set forward.  A carvel built wherry was very unusual at this time, most were clinker built.  It is believed this type of construction was undertaken to create a smooth external surface, to avoid the vessel being hooked up in locks. The cargo hold was in the centre and the crew quarters were at the rear. The Trust continued to use ALBION as a cargo carrier until 1953 when the hold was cleared to fit basic accommodation for charter parties during the summer with maintenance work carried out in the winter. However, the venture ran into problems. ALBION broke her mast in 1952, sank in 1957, and again in 1959. In 1966, the Trust was faced with the choice of spending large amounts of money they did not have in repairing ALBION, or scrapping her. A 'Save the Wherry' week was held under the patronage of the Duke of Edinburgh, and was highly successful. Several thousand pounds were raised and ALBION underwent a major refit over a three year period. She was re-timbered throughout and a new mast was made. A new sail was donated by a local boat hire agency.

She continued to carry passengers and, in the winter of 1999, various repairs were undertaken on ALBION. The covering boards were removed from the port bow to reveal rot. The fore quarter knee was also found to be rotted and both these were replaced, along with the carling hatch. Some of the seams in the aft deck also needed to be recaulked. ALBION now has cooking, toilet and sleeping facilities for twelve people. She has no engine - quanting and sailing are the order of the day. Recent (2007) work has been carried out to remove the wooden keel and replace it with a steel I-beam. Following this work ALBION has regained her sheer line and looks a new boat. On return to her home base she will be fitted out again for the 2008 season.

Norman J Brouwer, International Register of Historic Ships (Edition 2, 1993, pp134) pub: Anthony Nelson
Dick Sullivan, Old Ships, Boats and Maritime Museums (1978) pub: Coracle Books
Roger Finch, Sailing Craft of the British Isles (1976) pub: William Collins & Son Ltd
David Bray, The Story of the Norfolk Wherries pub: Jarrold
R Malster, Wherries and Waterways (1971) pub: Terence Dalton
Norfolk Wherry Trust (2011) pub: Norfolk Wherry Trust
Classic Boat (Jan, 2002) Major refit underway for Albion
Richard Johnstone-Bryden, Classic Boat (December, 2005) Twice the fun at the Barton Regattas
The Wherry Around the Wherry Sheds (2000)

Previous names

  1. Plane

Subsequent developments

April - June 2010 A Project & Training Bursary of £250 for runner-up Flagship was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships. Source: National Historic Ships.

May 2010 Presented with their runner up certificate for Flagship 2010 Norfolk Wherry Trust, which maintains and sails her, has spent a record £70,000 on replacing her keel and rotten timbers over the last two winters. The work was carried out by master shipwright Maynard Watson and his team who live in the Broads, at the Excelsior Yard on Oulton Broad where she was built in 1898. During the winter of 2008 they replaced her wooden keel with a steel model designed by Trust volunteer shipwright Paul Reynolds to correct a ‘hog’ or deformity which could have had dire consequences for the integrity of her hull. From October to January this year the team have replaced the all important stem post and heavy mooring timbers. Roger Watts the Trust’s project co-ordinator said 'This is the biggest job we have ever had to undertake and we are still not finished. As the vessel gets older the work becomes more drastic and expensive. It is a bit like maintaining the Forth Bridge. By the end of this year we will be nearing the end of a 10 year project which has addressed major decay in her hull timbers. However, we still have other, less urgent, but still major and expensive works to tackle. We depend entirely on our volunteers and the public’s financial support to keep this majestic old lady afloat as probably the Broads’ best known icon.' After her relaunch at the end of January, Albion was iced in at Oulton Broad. Now safely back at her Ludham base, the giant 60 ft sailing barge, the oldest wherry on the Broads, will be prepared for this coming charter season by volunteers who are members of the Norfolk Wherry Trust. They will be painting the timbers replaced by Maynard, oiling and re-stepping her 50ft mast, replacing cordage and refurbishing her blocks. Later in the year her tabernacle knees, that support the mast when under strain whilst sailing, will be replaced. Source: current owners.

December 2011 2012 is going to be a busy year - ALBION is being taken to Geldeston Lock for the first time in many a year - she was built in carvel fashion to transit this lock. Shes then going up to Coltishall to mark The Great Flood of 2012. The Trust is also organising a 'wherry mardle' of as many wherries of the seven left as they can in one place, as well as holding several public open days during the year. Source: Norfolk Wherry Trust, December 2011.

Key dates

  1. 1898 Built in Oulton Broad
  2. 1898-1939 In continuous use as a cargo vessel
  3. 1939-1949 In use as a lighter
  4. 1949 Purchased by the Norfolk Wherry Trust and restored
  5. 1949-1952 In use as a cargo vessel
  6. 1953s In use as a charter vessel
  7. 1966-1975 Restoration work continued
  8. 1996 Transported a Caen 13 tonne stone to commemorate the building of Norwich Cathedral
  9. 2007 Keel replaced
  10. 2010

    Presented with their runner up certificate for Flagship 2010


  1. unknown The Story of the Norfolk Wherries - Bray, David
  2. 1971 Wherries and Waterways - Malster, R
  3. 1976 Sailing Craft of the British Isles - Finch, Roger
  4. 1978 Old Ships, Boats and Maritime Museums - Sullivan, Dick
  5. 1993 International Register of Historic Ships - Brouwer, Norman J
  6. 2000 The Wherry Around the Wherry Sheds
  7. 2002 Classic Boat Major refit underway for Albion
  8. 2005 Classic Boat Twice the fun at the Barton Regattas
  9. 2011 Norfolk Wherry Trust
If you are the owner of the vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information please contact

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