Lydia Eva home to star in maritime festival

Anthony Carroll A historic Norfolk fishing boat has been towed back to her Yarmouth roots to help the town get ready for a spectacular celebration of seafaring exploits. The Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival will also feature tall ship The Brig Mercedes and numerous other vessels.

Anthony Carroll

A historic Norfolk fishing boat has been towed back to her Yarmouth roots to help the town get ready for a spectacular celebration of seafaring exploits.

The Lydia Eva, the world's last surviving steam-powered herring drifter, docked in South Quay on Tuesday night as a prelude to the resort's 9th annual Maritime Festival this weekend.

She was built in King's Lynn and during the 1930s the vessel and its 11-strong crew were part of Yarmouth's massive fishing fleet.

After a £1.1m refit, the Lydia Eva will now be the centre of attention for tens of thousands of festival goers on Saturday and Sunday after she was towed from her present home at Lowestoft.

And last night, a tall sailing ship was due to hove into view off Yarmouth as the Dutch vessel Brig Mercedes was set to join the Lydia Eva on South Quay.

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The Brig Mercedes was meant to arrive at 1.30pm but was delayed due to poor weather. People will be able to tour the three-year-old sailing ship, which is a replace-ment for the event's stalwart the Grand Turk, the replica of an 18th-century frigate made famous by the TV series Hornblower.

Over the weekend, the Lydia Eva and Brig Mercedes will be joined at the quayside by lifeboats from Gorleston and Caister, survey vessels from Yarmouth-based Gardline and the customs ship HMCC Valiant. Other attractions include a second world war motor torpedo boat MTB 102 and shrimper Horace and Hannah.

Six chefs will cook up treats in the Feast of Fish demonstration marquee and singers and bands will perform at new acoustic arena the Fo'c'stle.

The South Quay will see displays by the East Coast Militia, the East Anglian Working Newfoundland Dogs and Wrentham Brass Band.

There will also be exhibitions, a chance for children to make their own sea creatures and maritime museums will be open.

The festival runs from 10am to 6pm on Saturday and 10am to 5am on Sunday. Admission is free to the Yarmouth Tourist Authority- organised event but each visitor is asked to make a £1 donation to cover costs. Anyone who wants to tour the Brig Mercedes can book a place by calling 01493 846346 or by visiting Yarmouth tourist centre on Marine Parade.