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'It is beautiful to watch' - historic ship will steam again for milestone birthday

PUBLISHED: 15:52 25 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:19 25 June 2019

Yarmouth Stream Driftter Lydia Eva takes to the sea for the first time in over two years for sea trials.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Yarmouth Stream Driftter Lydia Eva takes to the sea for the first time in over two years for sea trials. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

They say age is just a number and for the Lydia Eva, the world's last remaining steam drifter, it is also her fleet designation.

Yarmouth Stream Driftter Lydia Eva takes to the sea for the first time in over two years for sea trials.
Picture: Nick ButcherYarmouth Stream Driftter Lydia Eva takes to the sea for the first time in over two years for sea trials. Picture: Nick Butcher

The historic vessel, now a floating museum moored at South Quay in Great Yarmouth, is celebrating her 89th birthday on Wednesday (June 26) chiming with her vessel number YH89.

To celebrate volunteers will be stoking her boilers and visitors will be able to see a black plume of smoke trailing from her funnel and enjoy the clank and thrum of her machinery all fired up.

For volunteer John Nobbs it will be a real thrill.

He said fans of the dirty, outmoded form of power liked nothing better than to see it all working, adding there was something "romantic" about the technology which hailed from a different age.

Shovelling coal was hot and thirsty work, he said, and also very costly in terms of coal.

The Lydia Eva preparing to leave its moorings on South Quay for its first sailing of 2014.
The engine room.

Picture: James Bass

The Lydia Eva preparing to leave its moorings on South Quay for its first sailing of 2014. The engine room. Picture: James Bass

In recent years its guardians had to use smokeless coal because of the amount of soot being belched out into the air, but for the anniversary it was hoped to use a stock of old coal which had been put by.

Mr Nobbs said the opportunity to see her in full steam was "very rare" and usually only enjoyed by paying guests who went out to see on "drifter experiences" which helped to fund her upkeep.

"It is beautiful to watch," he added. "But it is unbelievably hot. You can drink about ten litres of water a day, you just sweat it out."

The Lydia Eva was built in Kings Lynn for Harry J Eastick, a successful fishing fleet owner from Gorleston.

View from the top of Havenbridge House.
South Quay / Lydia Eva / Port / Pleasue Beach / River Yare.

October 2015.

Picture: James Bass

View from the top of Havenbridge House. South Quay / Lydia Eva / Port / Pleasue Beach / River Yare. October 2015. Picture: James Bass

On June 26, 1930, she was launched by his 19-year-old daughter Lydia Eva Eastick with a bottle of Champagne.

She made her last fishing voyage in 1938.

After that she was operated by the armed services for 30 years under the name Watchmoor.

A trust was formed to save her in 1989 after years of neglect in London docks.

The saling barge Cambria moored up at Hall Quay close to the Lydia Eva, just down from Haven Bridge, after arriving in Yarmouth under sail on Wednesday.
She will eventually make her way to Norwich after the weekend.

Picture: James Bass

The saling barge Cambria moored up at Hall Quay close to the Lydia Eva, just down from Haven Bridge, after arriving in Yarmouth under sail on Wednesday. She will eventually make her way to Norwich after the weekend. Picture: James Bass

Much of the work was carried out at Small and Co in Lowestoft.

In 2010 she moved under her own steam for the first time in more than 30 years.

Lydia Eva died in 2005, aged 95.

YH1 and YH222 help to escort YH89 (the retired drifter Lydia Eva) when she sailed from her home port in 1978 to join a fleet of classic vessels in a maritime museum in the Thames in London. She returned to Yarmouth in 1990.YH1 and YH222 help to escort YH89 (the retired drifter Lydia Eva) when she sailed from her home port in 1978 to join a fleet of classic vessels in a maritime museum in the Thames in London. She returned to Yarmouth in 1990.

Hour of glory! The Lydia Eva, the only surviving herring drifter, proudly leads the Parade of Sail as the 1978 Tall Ships' Race leaves the harbour.Hour of glory! The Lydia Eva, the only surviving herring drifter, proudly leads the Parade of Sail as the 1978 Tall Ships' Race leaves the harbour.

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