So what of the wherries? I was at a meeting last week and the conversation turned to wherries as it does from time to time and I thought it an idea to do a brief audit of what I know of those using the Aylsham Navigation. One very relevant point is that any trading vessel coming up to Aylsham had to be of a restricted size and be capable of slipping its keel. I hope this isn’t going to be just a list but here goes (my primary source is the Black Sailed Traders appendix 1 coupled with research and other local knowledge) -:
ALBERT based Aylsham owned by Tom Shreeve and skippered at the end by a Mr Bircham
ALEXANDRA a small vessel of 22 tons owned by Stanley Bullock and the last skipper was “Sink” Collier
ASLACTON owned in Aylsham and skippered by Ted Brown
AYLSHAM 25 tons owned by Stanley Bullock and skippered by B Wright
BALDWICH a 24 tonner owned in Aylsham by Barber & Ingram – unusually she had a square stern
BROTHERS a small vessel of 18 tons built in 1795 and lasting only until 1798 skippered by John Maidstone
BUCKENHAM a 12 tonner built in 1780 and owned in Aylsham her skipper was Edward Roofe
CYPRUS a 24 tonner owned in Aylsham by A.R. Amies and skippered by Joe Bircham
DEFIANCE recorded as a 42 ton vessel owned in Aylsham and skippered by George Tuck 1795-8
ENDEAVOUR recorded as a 16 tonner operated from Burgh and with the skipper Matthew Bidney
ERNEST owned in Aylsham by Stanley Bullock
FANCY operated from Horstead by Roberet Blyth 1795-8
GLEANER owned in Aylsham by George Bircham
HILDA 22 tonner last owned and skippered by Charles Rump out of Horning. Built in 1898 she spent her early years with Isaac Helsdon at Burgh.
KATE another 22 tonner owned in Aylsham by Ben Cooke and finally skippered by “Shiner” Wright. She once did 8 round trips from Aylsham to Yarmouth in one month (that’s some going)
LITTLE SPARK later Maid of the Mist – a 12 tonner she spent her working life at the Horstead Marl pits.
MAYFLOWER based Aylsham but owned and operated by Isaac Helsdon from Burgh
MAY FLOWER an early wherry based in Aylsham of only 12 tons and skippered by William Sago
NORFOLK FARMER another early but larger wherry based in Aylsham and skippered by John Rous
OLIVE BRANCH a 36 tonner based at Aylsham and skippered by Clement Cook.
OXNEAD owned at Oxnead by William Spinks
PALMERSTON built 1898 in Aylsham and owned by Stanly Bullock
PROSPECT a small wherry of 13 tons based in Aylsham and owned by Mr Bircham and skippered by Mr Parsons. She was the subject of my halloween blog “The Ghost of Burgh Reach” as she is said by local legend to lay sunk there between Oxnead and Burgh locks.
ROYAL CHARLIE owned at Oxnead in the 1880’s by Charles Browne.
THREE SISTERS an 18 tonner skippered out of Aylsham by John Loverick
TRADER nothing is really known about this wherry other than she was owned at Hautbois by a Mr Girling
UNION a 28 tonner built and traded from Aylsham and later under skipper John Reynolds from Horstead
VOLUNTEER a 26 tonner trading from Aylsham for Tom Shreeve and skippered by Mr Rivett
ZULU a 20 ton wherry based in Catfield she was built in Coltishall and frequently traded to Aylsham under skipper Jimmy Wright. She was owned by Mr Riches and was, famously, manhauled across and around obstructions after the flood to gain her trading freedom.
This list (you see I accept it is one) is not meant to be definiive. I am sure that other vessels traded the Navigation and it also takes no account of any pleasure traffic of which there was some in the last 30 years or so.