A piece of Wells’ maritime history returns from the sea

A team from North Norfolk Divers and Wells Harbour have pulled an old anchor from the harbour floor.

A team from North Norfolk Divers and Wells Harbour have pulled an old anchor from the harbour floor. - Credit: Wells Harbour Commissioner

A sizable piece of a port's maritime history has surfaced for the first time in two centuries.

A three-tonne anchor, which could date back to the times of Nelson, has been pulled from Wells Harbour.

A team of divers, along with a crew from the harbour office, recovered the anchor which must have come from a large vessel.

Wells harbour master Robert Smith said: 'It is the first time it has come out of the water in two or three hundred years.

'It has a wooden stock which they finished building in about 1820 so we know it dates prior to then.'

The next step will be to alert authorities to see if the original owner can be found, quite unlikely given the time scale, and to ask Norfolk Museums to take a look at it to see where it might have come from and what needs to be done to preserve it.

Due to having a wooden portion the anchor has been left under water to prevent it from being damaged by exposure to the air.

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Mr Smith said: 'It is in amazing condition, the best one I have seen.

'I am hoping we can afford to get it treated and preserved and put it on a plinth in memory of all the people who have been lost at sea.

'It is a massive part of our maritime heritage.'

The find was mind after a fisherman reporting his nets snagging on something.

Divers from North Norfolk Divers took a look while they were trying to find a chain which had broken loose during bad weather.

Instead of finding the chain they were in for a bit of a surprise.

Roy Brewer, a committee member of the diving club, said: 'It is definitely different.

'It is not something which was on the chart so it is quite possible that it had not been dived before.

'The current thought is that it is probably from the early 1800s.

'We do dive a fair bit on the north Norfolk coast and there are a lot of wrecks out there. There are probably a lot more waiting to be discovered.

'I would imagine she was a fairly big vessel.

'Whether she was caught in a storm and put an anchor down to hold fast and then cut it away I don't know.

'If she went down she would probably be part of Wells's history but you never know if it might have been forgotten over time.'

Have you made an exciting historical discovery? Write to doug.faulkner@archant.co.uk