Ingenious use for wherry wood at Stalham’s Museum of the Broads

A once elegant sight on the Broads, Warrior met the same sad end as so many iconic wherries - sunk and decaying in river mud.

But discovered in pieces near a Hoveton boatyard and donated to the Museum of the Broads, a local craftsman has now found an ingenious way to re-use the wood, at the same time boosting museum funds.

Paul Williams, 45, of Water Lane, Neatishead, is crafting pens and paperweights out of the English oak and the first will go on sale from today with 20pc of the proceeds going to the museum at Stalham Staithe.

On Saturday he handed over the first in the collection - named after broads with a top-of-the-range fountain pen called the Ranworth - to museum patron Henry Cator and chairman of the trustees Pamela Masters.

Mr Williams, a boatbuilder until a sailing injury forced him to change careers, was recently chosen to make pens for a prestigious campaign to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Mercedes Benz Club, and on Friday attended the official launch of an accompanying book when one of his pens was bought by Dragons Den star James Caan.


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The museum collection - fountain pens, ballpoints and pencils - will range in price from �30 to �155.

Mr Williams said: 'Despite being in the mud for so long, the wherry wood is very sound; it is at least 120 years old but it turns beautifully.'

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There are still several pieces of wood to collect from the museum yard and he calculates he will be able to make 200 pens and 200 paperweights.

Mrs Masters said: 'The wood was originally included as part of our display on wherries, but when one of our volunteers, Mike Fuller, decided to refresh things it became surplus to our requirements.

'It was going to be thrown out, but it's wonderful that Paul has been able to turn the wood into such beautiful pens and paperweights to help us.'

She said the museum had 8,000 visitors a year but entry fees still did not cover the running costs so they were constantly looking at ways to raise extra money.

Trying out one of the fountain pens, Mr Cator said: 'Wood is such a beautiful material to hold.'

He said Mr William's generous support was to be welcomed as the museum played such an important role in preserving the history of Broadland.

He added that it was their long-term vision to attach a boat-building training centre to the museum to ensure the skills of generations of Broadland boatbuilders were not lost.

The pens can be bought from the museum or ordered from Mr Williams' firm, Woods World Wide by Williams, on 07771 950911 or email paul@wwww.uk.net

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