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New pleasure boat christened with an ale decades after her namesake plied the same waters

PUBLISHED: 15:44 03 June 2018 | UPDATED: 15:44 03 June 2018

Relatives of the late Nat Bircham, skipper in 1934 of The Ella, the last wherry to sail the North Walsham and Dilham Canal, take a trip on its new namesake, Ella II. Clockwise, from left: Christine Burns, granddaughter of Nat Bircham; Lilian Smith, Nat's daughter; Ivan Cane, chairman of the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust; Graham Pressman, the trust's boating officer; Ed Cubitt, trust volunteer; Sally Blackburn, granddaughter; Jane Bryant, granddaughter; Pat Narracott, granddaughter. Picture: North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust

Relatives of the late Nat Bircham, skipper in 1934 of The Ella, the last wherry to sail the North Walsham and Dilham Canal, take a trip on its new namesake, Ella II. Clockwise, from left: Christine Burns, granddaughter of Nat Bircham; Lilian Smith, Nat's daughter; Ivan Cane, chairman of the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust; Graham Pressman, the trust's boating officer; Ed Cubitt, trust volunteer; Sally Blackburn, granddaughter; Jane Bryant, granddaughter; Pat Narracott, granddaughter. Picture: North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust

Archant

It may be traditional to christen new boats with champagne, but a far more appropriate beverage was found for a vessel named after a bygone wherry.

The North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust's latest pleasure boat, Ella II, takes passengers for a trip on the water. Picture: North Walsham and Dilham Canal TrustThe North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust's latest pleasure boat, Ella II, takes passengers for a trip on the water. Picture: North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust

Ella II, the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust’s new pleasure boat, had a Woodeforde’s Wherry ale poured over its bow on its maiden cruise.

Lilian Smith, daughter of the Ella’s skipper, Nat Bircham, did the honours, watched by four of Nat’s granddaughters. The family then took a short boat trip along the canal which has been under restoration for more than a decade.

Trust chairman Ivan Cane said: “It was fantastic to be able to welcome the descendants of Nat Bircham to come and name Ella II in memory of that last wherry on this canal.”

In 1934 the Ella was last wherry to sail the 19th-century canal before it fell into disuse and became choked with vegetation.

Lilian Smith, daughter of the late Nat Bircham, skipper in 1934 of The Ella, the last wherry to sail the North Walsham and Dilham Canal, prepares to christen its namesake Ella II by pouring a pint of Woodeforde's Wherry ale across the bow. Picture: North Walsham and Dilham Canal TrustLilian Smith, daughter of the late Nat Bircham, skipper in 1934 of The Ella, the last wherry to sail the North Walsham and Dilham Canal, prepares to christen its namesake Ella II by pouring a pint of Woodeforde's Wherry ale across the bow. Picture: North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust

The trust runs weekend afternoon pleasure trips along a one-mile stretch of the waterway, from Ebridge Mill Pond to Bacton Wood lock.

Proceeds from the trips are ploughed back into trust project.

Volunteers, together with owner Laurie Ashton of The Old Canal Company, have now began work to restore Ebridge lock, one of six locks along the canal which was once nearly nine miles long.

Other than boat trips, other attractions at the canal include canoeing, paddleboards, model boats, a bar and barbecue.

Mary Seward, deputy mayor of North Walsham, with her husband Eric Seward (left) who represents North Walsham on North Norfolk District Council and Norfolk County Council, aboard Ella II at the open weekend with the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust's boating officer, Graham Pressman. Picture: North Walsham and Dilham Canal TrustMary Seward, deputy mayor of North Walsham, with her husband Eric Seward (left) who represents North Walsham on North Norfolk District Council and Norfolk County Council, aboard Ella II at the open weekend with the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust's boating officer, Graham Pressman. Picture: North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust

For more information on the boat trips ring 07585 160772.

Lilian Smith, daughter of the late Nat Bircham, skipper in 1934 of The Ella, the last wherry to sail the North Walsham and Dilham Canal, after christening its namesake Ella II by pouring a pint of Woodeforde's Wherry ale across the bow. Picture: North Walsham and Dilham Canal TrustLilian Smith, daughter of the late Nat Bircham, skipper in 1934 of The Ella, the last wherry to sail the North Walsham and Dilham Canal, after christening its namesake Ella II by pouring a pint of Woodeforde's Wherry ale across the bow. Picture: North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust

North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust members Andrea Lamyman (left) and Mary Black splosh in their wellies behind the recruitment stall which was inside a tent during the trust's open weekend. Picture: North Walsham and Dilham Canal TrustNorth Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust members Andrea Lamyman (left) and Mary Black splosh in their wellies behind the recruitment stall which was inside a tent during the trust's open weekend. Picture: North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust



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