Photo gallery: Thousands enjoy Harbour Day in Wells to mark the 350th anniversary of the town’s harbour commissioners

Wells Harbour Master Robert Smith, centre, with the Wells Harbour Commissioners aboard the Thames Barge Cambria

Thousands of people have been in Wells today for a special celebration to mark the 350th anniversary of the town's harbour commissioners.

The commissioners brought back the popular Harbour Day, a family fun day on Wells Quay, which was once an annual event but has not been held in the town since 2007.

Wells Harbour Master Robert Smith said: 'It's been fantastic day and far better than I ever expected.

'The turnout has been amazing. Several thousand people have been here having a great time.

'Loads of people have been asking me if we can bring the Harbour Day back as an annual event.


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'Unfortunately, we just don't have the time it takes to organise it every year, but we may look at doing it occasionally in the future.

'It's been a great way to celebrate our birthday so I want to thank everyone who has supported us and everyone who gave so much time and effort in organising everything.'

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People enjoyed sea shanties, performed by Blakeney Old Wild Rovers, a climbing wall, put on by RAF Marham, a tug-of-war competition, canoe rides, giant penguins, Norfolk ciders and ales and games and stalls which run by organisations including the RNLI, the Rescue Wooden Boats charity, Wells Sailing Club, Wells and District Wildfowlers Club, Natural England and Screen-next-the-Sea.

A major attraction was the Thames Barge Cambria, which was in Wells for the day.

Built in 1906, she is famed as the last British-registered vessel to carry a commercial cargo under sail alone until 1970 and forms a unique part of the nation's industrial and maritime heritage.

She visited Wells while still operational.

Former town and district councillor Joyce Trett said: 'It seems like Wells is going through the busiest summer it's ever had.

'The carnival was big success and the harbour day has been excellent. It's great for local businesses.

'We've got the Wells Pirate Festival coming up soon and we hope that will be a big success too.'

Wells Harbour Commissioners originated under the 1663 Act of Repairing and Better Preserving the Quay and Port of Wells in the County of Norfolk.

The commissioners were given a levy of 6d for every ton of goods and last of grain loaded or unloaded with the condition that these dues should be 'truly and faithfully expended on repairing and better preserving the quay, creeks, channel and landing place of Wells.'

Wells Harbour Commissioners' powers were most recently defined in the Wells Harbour Revision Order of 1994.

The commissioners are a self-financing body with no access to government money.

All profits are channelled directly back into the harbour and Wells Harbour Commissioners must balance the books to run the port successfully.

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