Albion, the oldest remaining Norfolk wherry

‘Albion’ was built as a Norfolk wherry and carried cargo on the inland waterways of eastern England. Jack Powley was associated with the ‘Albion’ until the 1920s, man and boy. Later in her career, ‘Albion’ took part in the Great Wherry Race of 1951. As the oldest remaining wherry afloat after the second world war, she was rescued and restored by the Norfolk Wherry Trust and is on the National Historic Ships Register.

Norfolk sherry 'Albion' breaks her mast Photo: Jayne Tracey
Norfolk sherry ‘Albion’ breaks her mast Photo: Jayne Tracey

Tales of the wherrymen

‘Albion’s’ first skipper was Jimmy Lacey, and the mate was his nephew Jack Powley. It’s said that Jimmy was a strict disciplinarian, so young Jack, one of that famous family, learned his job the hard way. His own account tells of sleepless night trips when the cabin doors were lifted off their hinges, and put away until the wherry moored, meaning the cuddy was too draughty to sleep in with no doors on.

‘Albion’s’ first freight was coal from Lowestoft to Bungay for a shilling a ton. She was intended to carry a load of 36 tons, but later proved herself to be better than this, on one occasion making the same journey laden with more than 41 tons of cattle cake. In 1900 Jack became skipper – an association that would last 20 years.

We hear from Jayne Tracey, born aboard the Norfolk wherry ‘Bramble’, that ‘Albion’ took part in the 1951 Great Wherry Race on Breydon Water and broke her mast. ‘Hathor’ went aground, but the day was saved by Tracey’s father, jumping waist deep into the water and pushing her off to become the eventual winner!

Norfolk Wherry Trust
National Historic Ships