Cley has a quay once again after community restoration project

Stage one of project to restore Cley Harbour is almost complete. After four years of work, much by v

Stage one of project to restore Cley Harbour is almost complete. After four years of work, much by volunteers, there is now a large body of water in the harbour and is now navigable by small boats. Pictured from left John Pryor, Cley parish councillor, Simon Read, project manager of Cley Old Harbour Project, Sarah Pegden of Cley Windmill and Richard Allen, Chairman of Cley parish council.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A north Norfolk coastal community has pulled together and restored an ancient feature lost for many decades.

Stage one of project to restore Cley Harbour is almost complete. After four years of work, much by v

Stage one of project to restore Cley Harbour is almost complete. After four years of work, much by volunteers, there is now a large body of water in the harbour and is now navigable by small boats. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Cley has a working quay once more, which, from next month, can be used by boats of up to 20ft.

The transformation from a narrow, silted-up river to an expanse of water with a newly-installed quay heading, has been hailed as a major success story for the village.

'It's now got a real 'wow!' factor - a big open space where boats can moor and turn round,' said Simon Read, Cley parish councillor and co-ordinator of the Cley Harbour volunteer parties which have been doing much of the donkey work.

'This is going to be a huge asset for the village and it has been a really cohesive project, bringing together residents and holiday-home owners.'

Stage one of project to restore Cley Harbour is almost complete. After four years of work, much by v

Stage one of project to restore Cley Harbour is almost complete. After four years of work, much by volunteers, there is now a large body of water in the harbour and is now navigable by small boats. Pictured Simon Read, project manager of Cley Old Harbour Project. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE


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But villagers are now crossing their fingers that a river bank ownership wrangle, involving Cley Windmill owners Julian and Carolyn Godlee, will soon be resolved so that stage one of the Cley Harbour project can be completed.

Mr Read declined to go into details, but admitted the legal dispute had caused 'a few bad feelings among some villagers'. He hoped it would be amicably and quickly resolved and said the mill was the most important business in Cley.

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It employs 19 people and hosts weddings and guests all year.

The Godlees say they fully support the project and want it to succeed.

Launched four years ago, the project has permission to dredge a 300m stretch of the River Glaven, restoring the ancient harbour.

Mr Read said it had become so narrow at some points 'you could barely get a dinghy through'.

He hopes that one day occasional seal trip boats will be able to start from the quay, rather than from nearby Blakeney and Morston, giving those aboard the chance to see the whole estuary.

And he is looking forward to drier weather when the area in front of the quay heading can be landscaped, with benches.

Project chiefs would like to dredge part of the disputed land to allow the water to flow unimpeded, cutting the need for frequent re-dredging.

Dr Godlee, who has owned Cley Windmill for 10 years, said everyone involved in the business fully supported the harbour project.

He added: 'Over the last 70 years the deposition of mud has extended the front garden at the windmill – and this is now a beautiful and peaceful area surrounded by reeds, providing beauty, safety and privacy.

'In conjunction with Simon Read, we have mapped out an area at the front of our garden to be dredged in order to enlarge the channel – stage one of the dredging has already taken place and already the quay area is much enhanced.'

Once negotiations over river bank rights had been finalised there was: 'every reason to believe that the next dredging stage can proceed and this will further enhance the quay project.'

Dr Godlee added: 'We are extremely keen to balance the benefits for the village and the beautiful setting around the windmill, and also to preserve the safety and privacy for the thousands of guests who come to stay.'

Do you have a restoration story? Contact alex.hurrell@archant.co.uk

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