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Maritime Festival’s fleet of visiting vessels are looking ship shape

Regal Lady

Nostalgia steams and sails into Great Yarmouth on September 10th and 11th when the annual Maritime Festival moors up with a fleet of fascinating vessels.

East Anglians will revel in the return of the Regal Lady pleasure boat to the port where she was built and the local waterways where she took thousands of trippers on fun voyages.

She is among an armada of guest ships which includes historic sailing and military ships, and lifeboats.

The festival also features spectacular jet ski stunt displays on the river, and a rare chance to tour a brand new offshore support vessel.

And the quaysides will be lined with the sounds of live sea shanty music, smells of herring cooking in a throwback to the town’s fishery heydays, along with street entertainment, crafts and children’s activities.

There could also be a different, softer, cuddlier look to the quay, after a raid by the Norfolk Ninja Knitters who aim to add some woolly trimmings to some of the street furniture.

Maritime Festival chairman Aileen Mobbs, who has led the event for all its 17 years, said: “This is a great chance to get up close to some fabulous historic ships, but also to see at first hand the port’s vital modern day role supporting the offshore energy industry.

“But the emphasis is also on entertainment – from traditional shanty singing and military re-enactment to have-a-go activities for youngsters – making it a popular event for all the family.”

The event, which is the biggest in the Great Yarmouth events calendar, draws 30,000 people to the resort’s port. Entry is free but donations of £1 a person is appreciated to help fund future festivaIs.

The festival is staged by the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement District, which uses a pot of levy payers’ money to fund and support events, and do extra marketing to attract more visitors and spending power to the area.

BID chairman Gareth Brown said: “The Maritime Festival is currently our flagship weekend, and showcases Great Yarmouth’s seafaring heritage in a fun way, which has proved popular to visitors of all ages.”

Vessels to visit:
Earl of Pembroke – 44m long schooner from 1945 which has been in more than a dozen films and TV series including Hornblower and Treasure Island. Go on board for £4 adults, £3 children 5-16, £15 families (two adults/ three children or one adult / 4 children) from ticket booth on the quay. Book ‘FastTrack’ tickets online at

Regal Lady – Built in Fellowes Yard at Great Yarmouth in 1935, served in the Dunkirk fleet of Little Ships and ran pleasure trips around the Broads rivers and coast before moving to Scarborough in 1987. River cruises (approx. 90 mins) 10.30, 12.30, 2.30 both days, plus 4.30 pm Sunday. Tickets £6 adults, £3 children (5-14), under-4s free at the boat on the day.

Esvagt SOV – Guided tours of a stunning-looking state-of-the-art support vessel, named at Great Yarmouth the day before and which will work at the Dudgeon wind farm off Norfolk. Guided tours of 25 mins. Tickets £5 adults, £3 children 5-16 from the information hut. Pre-book the tours at the eTicket section of

Lydia Eva – The last steam drifter built at King’s Lynn, which worked out of Great Yarmouth until her last haul in 1938. Now restored as a living museum of the herring fishery. Boarding tickets £2 adults, children free from the ramp.

Other ships:
• Laura Moncur – Restored former 1960 RNLI Buckie and reserve fleet lifeboat which saved 47 lives.

• Leila – 12m cutter rigged leisure boat from 1892 now used for youth sail training.

• Albatros – 18m tug and ice breaker seized for war duty by the Germans in 1940

• RV Belgica – 51m research vessel from Zeebrugge manned by a Belgian Navy crew

• Samarbeta – the current Great Yarmouth and Gorleston all-weather RNLI lifeboat whose name is Swedish for working together

• MTB102 – 1937 motor torpedo boat which saw war action mainly in the English Channel and starred in the 1976 film The Eagle Has Landed.

• Anna TX37 – A two-masted schooner from Oostende built in 1937, used as a fishing boat until 1977 and now a charter sailing ship.

Other attractions:
• Jet ski display team. Choreographed back flips, barrel rolls and dives by the DJR Freestyle riders. 11am, 12.30pm, 2pm and 3.30pm, plus 4.30pm Saturday.

• Music – shanty and folk singers on the main stage, Fo’c’sle acoustic performance area, and Horatio’s bar. The acts are: Bob Fox, Tom Lewis, Four’n’Aft, Capstan Full Strength, Jenkins Ear, El Pony Pistador, Baggyrinkle, Mollyhawks and Blakeney Old Wild Rovers. Wrentham Brass band will play on Sunday.

• Street entertainment – Wacky promenading boat and shanty singing from the Inner State Theatre Company.

• East Coast Militia – new battle scene re-enactment and musket fire from the eve of Waterloo

• Vintage Mobile cinema – showing maritime themed short films and mini movies looking behind the scenes of local tourism. Free heritage walks also begin from the converted vintage bus.

• Town Hall - The Biggest Untold Story of WW2 unpublished archive footage of rescue tugs by songwriter and D-Day veteran Jim Radford. Town Hall council chamber 10.45am and 3pm both days. Also model boat display and illustrated talks on maritime Great Yarmouth at noon and 2pm both days.

• Children’s activities – Craft marquee for making a pirate’s hat or jellyfish. RPSB marquees with a chance to make a dragonfly, butterfly feeder and flying wristband. Nature exploration with the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Punch and Judy.

• Exhibitions – Knitting, rope making, art, pottery, gansey making, spinning, lace-making, crafts, boat building, fisheries, marine conservation and charity stalls.

The festival relies on corporate sponsorship from Seajacks UK, E.ON, Statoil, Bateman Groundworks, Gardline, ELM Contracts, HKB Wiltshires, Persimmon, Stephenson Smart, Esvagt, MDF Transport and PeelPorts UK as well as vital suport from Great YArmouth Borough Council.

Find out more about the festival at, follow @GYMaritime on Twitter or visit the festival Facebook page. Souvenir guides for £1 with full details are available at the event.