Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Norfolk wherry is a black-sailed trader, type of boat on the Norfolk Broads and Suffolk Broads, now part of The Broads National Park, in Norfolk, England. It is double-ended with the mast steeped well forward, painted black with a single gaff sail. Mostly clinker-built, it would carry around 25 tons of goods.
Wherries were able to reach larger boats just off coast and take their cargoes off to be transported inland through the broads and the rivers.
Before wherries, there was the Norfolk Keel, a square rigged, transom sterned clinker-built boat, 54 feet by 14 feet, and able to carry 30 tons of goods. The keel had been built since the Middle Ages and the design probably went back to the Viking invasion. After 1800, the Norfolk Keel (or 'keel wherry') disappeared, partly because a wherry could be sailed with fewer crew, and it had limited manoeuvrability and lacked speed.
Wherries came in different sizes, according to the river they used. The North Walsham & Dilham Canal Wherry was max. 50' x 12' x 3'6". The River Ant Wherry was 50' x 12' max. The River Bure Wherry was 54'x 12' 8", but for the Aylsham Navigation, i.e. the upper reaches of the Bure, the boats had to be 12' 6" x 3'6" maximum.
On the southern Broads, steam wherries were used. The River Waveney Wherry was 70' x 16' max.
The mast is pivoted with a large counterbalance weight at the bottom. This enables the wherry to lower the mast for passing under bridges. The mast can be dropped, the wherry contune forward under momentum and the mast raised again on the far side by the crew of two. If there is no wind, or for manoevring quant poles are used to push the wherry.
A special wherry wheelbarrow was used to unload cargo, e.g. stone, from the wherries. It was made from wood and strengthened with iron bands. It had no legs, therefore it could be rested on the 11 inches wide planks on the side of the wherry.
The wherries were displaced over time the arrival of rail, which could take cargoes directly from ships at Great Yarmouth to Norwich. The last trading wherry, Ella was built in 1912. After the end of the trading wherry was seen a number of wherry yachts were built, but these large vessels also became uneconomic to run.
A number of wherries and wherry yachts have been restored and can be seen sailing up and down the rivers and broads.
- Albion - trader wherry
- Maud - trader wherry
- Solace - pleasure wherry
- Hathor -pleasure wherry
- Olive - wherry yacht
- Norada - wherry yacht
- White Moth - wherry yacht
In addition the pleasure wherry, Ardea may still be in existence.
- Black Sailed Traders - Roy Clark.
- Wherries and Waterways - Robert Malster.
- Albion; the Story of the Norfolk Trading Wherry - Martin Kirby/Norfolk Wherry Trust.
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