Photo gallery: Steam drifter the Lydia Eva to re-open after restoration

The Lydia Eva, the last surviving steam drifter of the herring fishing fleet based in Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

It's being billed as the perfect corporate fun day, allowing staff to let off steam.

Stoke the boiler, drive the engine, take the wheel – or do all three.

And as you cruise along the coast between Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Southwold you are sure to feel special as you will be navigating the last remaining steam drifter in the world.

The Lydia Eva steamed back into Yarmouth last weekend after a winter in Lowestoft and her enthusiastic band of volunteers is now completing the final jobs on board to ensure she is ship-shape for opening to the public tomorrow.

For the fifth season she will be moored at South Quay, alongside the Town Hall, as a nostalgic reminder of her 1930s herring fishing heyday when 1,000 drifters were registered in Yarmouth and a further 1,000 in Lowestoft.

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Over the summer, more than 5,000 visitors will be welcomed on board to look around the boat and absorb her history from fascinating display panels.

However, the real passion of the volunteers from the Lydia Eva and Mincarlo Charitable Trust is to see her in steam – and they hope to get pulses racing this season with a number of special trips and charters.

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Ship manager John Russell, 67, a retired photographer, said: 'We will be trying to encourage people to join our special trips. We can accommodate a maximum of eight people and the price for a day's sailing will be £175.'

They will also be offering tailored charters with prices and details on request.

'We think it would be a great team-building exercise. People could do as much as they wanted or just chill out and enjoy the trip,' said Mr Russell.

The trips will provide much needed funding towards the £25,000 needed to maintain the boat annually.

However, Mr Russell stressed that profits would not be great as a return trip to Lowestoft cost about £1,000 in coal. 'We get through a half hundred weight sack of coal in just five to 10 minutes,' he said.

The Lydia Eva was built in King's Lynn in 1930 for Gorleston fishing fleet owner Harry Eastick.

After nearly a decade as a fishing boat, she was in RAF ownership for more than 20 years.

Bought by a charity, she was eventually left to rot in a London dock before Norfolk and Suffolk volunteers campaigned to bring her home to East Anglia in 1989.

A National Lottery grant of more than £800,000 funded the bulk of her restoration and more than £1.2m has now been spent on the vessel.

For more details of private charter contact Mark Waltham on 07889 412333.

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