New moorings at Ludham boat yard: home to Norfolk Broads sailing yachts since the 1930s
Vintage sailing boats travel from around the world to holiday on the Norfolk Broads.
And now, with the official opening of a new dyke at historic Hunter's Yard in Ludham, it is hoped they will continue to visit for many years to come.
Bryan Read, chairman of the Norfolk Heritage Fleet Trust which runs the yard and a fleet of wooden yachts from the 1930s, declared the dyke officially open yesterday, wishing all who sail there a safe voyage.
Read's Dyke, named after Mr Read in recognition of his determination to see the private moorings built, is the first major development at Hunter's Yard since Percy Hunter and his sons dug the first dyke off Womack Water 80 years ago.
It has taken three and a half years to complete but the new dyke, parallel to the exiting one where the Hunter's boats are moored, is already proving popular, with a waiting list set up even before building work had finished.
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'It wasn't an easy job,' said Mr Read.
'The planning process took a long time, but we worked very closely with Natural England and, while it's not often people thank planning officers, they worked with us and I would like to thank them for all their hard work.'
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Even after the Broads Authority planning committee granted the yard permission to start work in December 2011, winter weather intervented.
'We had problems with high water, then snow, frost and, of course, the mud which delayed a lot of work.
'It's a magnificent achievement considering what we've encountered.'
The new moorings, with room for up to 18 sailing yachts, should boost the popularity of vintage boating on the Broads.
They will also provide much needed income for Hunter's, whose fleet of traditional wooden yachts are still affectionately known as the 'lovely ladies' of the Broads.
'Life isn't easy in the tourism industry and we needed another source of income,' said Mr Read.
This could help secure the yard's future.'
The Norfolk Heritage Fleet Trust formed in 1996 to save the fleet when Norfolk County Council was threatening to sell off what was then its county sailing base along with all the boats. The campaign to save it was back by the EDP.
Today the trust runs Royal Yachting Association (RYA) training from the yard, and over the weekend offered one hour sailing taster lessons to members of the public as well as a chance for people to see the new moorings.
Jennifer Mack, trustee and descendent of Percy Hunter, said: 'What's particularly nice is that it doesn't alter the character of the place,' she said.
'This is a heritage boat yard after all.'