Saturday, 28 March 2009

The Wherry Albion: steady on the tiller

ONE of the stranger rules of this book-writing lark is that what the reader reads first, the writer has written last.

So it's only now that Chapter 13 has finally been put to bed that I've turned my attention to the book's introduction. And it's only today that I've turned down Horsefen Road in Ludham to pay a visit to the wherry Albion at her home on Womack Water.

As I arrived volunteers were gently man-handling a quarter of a ton of Norfolk oak off a trailer in the rain (see picture). This eight foot long timber will become - I was told - a replacement tiller, the previous one having survived for more than forty-odd years.

Trading wherries were the HGVs of their day and a hundred years ago the Yare was their dual carriageway. But now only two survive, Albion and Maud. Albion's story has been well told both on its own website and in classic books like Black-Sailed Traders by Roy Clark and Albion by Martin Kirby.

My book is about the Wherryman's Way not the wherries, but I still felt the need to get up close and personal before I get writing. Today I sat in its snug cuddy, was taught how to admire its sleek lines and generally got a flavour of the passion and the expertise of the people who care for her. Thanks for the tea and flapjacks chaps. And thanks for giving me a tiny insight into why Albion is so special.
*Visit Albion's own website here

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