She’s 119 years old, has lived in Lynn all her life and is still tak­ing peo­ple on day trips down the river. Rowan Man­tell finds out about the unique Nor­folk Wor­folk boat

EDP Norfolk - - CONTENTS -

No, it’s not a mis­spelling; it’s a kind of boat

Red-brown sails bil­low­ing, the Baden Pow­ell is a dra­matic sight on the King’s Lynn quay. Built as a cock­ling boat in 1900, she now takes pas­sen­gers on jour­neys along the Ouse and out into the Wash – and through cen­turies of lo­cal his­tory. The story of Lynn’s maritime his­tory, its fishing, trade, travel and ex­plo­ration, takes on a fas­ci­nat­ing new di­men­sion when told from the wa­ter, look­ing back at the hand­some quay­side and town­scape of Lynn and then out to­wards the open sea.

Boat­builder Wal­ter Wor­folk ar­rived in Lynn at the end of the 19th cen­tury, and launched a busi­ness mak­ing fishing boats. His first com­mis­sion was the dou­ble-ended cock­ling boat, the Baden Pow­ell. To­day she is the only boat of her type in the world, and is once more sail­ing at Lynn af­ter a decade of restora­tion and re­build­ing by ded­i­cated vol­un­teers.

This au­tumn she should ap­pear in Ar­mando Ian­nucci’s film The Per­sonal His­tory of David Cop­per­field, which also stars Peter Ca­paldi, Hugh Lau­rie, Dev Patel and Tilda Swin­ton and was filmed in the Pur­fleet, Lynn,

last sum­mer, with more scenes shot in Wey­bourne.

To­day, the Baden Pow­ell is the last re­main­ing dou­ble-ended wooden cock­ling boat – built with two pointed ends, to make her eas­ier to han­dle over the sand­banks where cock­les grow. Af­ter 10 years of painstak­ing ren­o­va­tion she can once again ply her trade on the wa­ter, some­times stay­ing close to her moor­ings near Lynn’s South Quay, some­times ven­tur­ing down the river as far as Wis­bech or out into the Wash.

This sum­mer she went cock­ling again, sail­ing out to an­chor over cockle beds on the north end of the Thief Sand sand­bank and wait­ing for the tide to fall. As the boat grounded and the sand­bank emerged the crew jumped down to rake for cock­les – just as their fore­bears would have done from 1900 all the way through to the 1980s. On that first cock­ling trip af­ter the relaunch, enough were found for Tim Clay­ton, who led the restora­tion, to pre­pare the crew a broth of cock­les and sea­wa­ter on a camp­ing stove. Fel­low vol­un­teer Ken Hill called it “a dream come true.”

The boat was named af­ter Lord Baden Pow­ell, a na­tional war hero, when she was built in 1900, seven years be­fore he launched the Scout­ing move­ment. Her restora­tion, car­ried out mainly by vol­un­teers and en­thu­si­asts, was sup­ported by do­na­tions and the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund.

An­other Wor­folk boat is the Sal­ford, now owned by Henry Cham­ber­lain of the Wells-based Coastal Ex­plo­ration Com­pany. Wal­ter Wor­folk’s sons, Ger­ald and Wil­liam, fol­lowed their fa­ther into the busi­ness and con­tin­ued build­ing Wor­folk wooden boats in Lynn un­til 1981.

Now the Baden Pow­ell is moored off South Quay and once again sails from Lynn. Dur­ing the sum­mer trips be­gin two or three times a week from her moor­ing off South Quay, with a sug­gested do­na­tion of £15 per per­son for a short voy­age along the river, and more for longer trips out to­wards the Wash with the chance to see seals and other wildlife. She can also be com­mis­sioned by groups, for bird­watch­ing, sight-seeing or spe­cial oc­ca­sion trips, for up to eight peo­ple.

‘To­day she is the only boat of her type in the world, and is once more sail­ing at Lynn af­ter a decade of restora­tion and re­build­ing by ded­i­cated vol­un­teers’

Ian Burt

BELOW The new sails of the Baden Pow­ell have been hoisted for the first time

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