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Movie star ship to sail into maritime festival

Earl of Pembroke

An historic ship that doubles as movie and TV star will be centre stage at Great Yarmouth's Maritime Festival this year.

The 1940s sailing ship Earl of Pembroke has figured in more than a dozen films and TV series since it was restored in 1994.

They include the movie Cloud Atlas – starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant – as well as roles in Hornblower, Treasure Island, Alice in Wonderland, Wives and Daughters, and the Count of Monte Cristo.

She will be moored at Great Yarmouth for the two-day festival on September 10th and 11th, which regularly attracts about 30,000 visitors to the port.

The Earl of Pembroke began life as the Swedish schooner Orion in 1945, hauling timber in the Baltic Sea. She was restored in the form of a three-masted barque, and renamed Earl of Pembroke, the original name of Captain Cook's famous exploration ship HMS Endeavour which took him to Australia.

At 174 tons and 145 ft long, she has 9,500 sq ft of sail and a 405hp diesel engine with authentic guest cabins and a hold below decks.

She is owned by health company Metaco and used for corporate and charity sailing as well as hired out for big and small screen filming.

Festival chairman Aileen Mobbs said: “We are delighted to have such an interesting ship for people to see.”

The Earl will not be offering sailing trips, but visitors will enjoy seeing a new vessel that was “a bit different.”

Mrs Mobbs, who has been at the helm of the festival for all of its 17 years, said people liked seeing a variety of ships in a harbour that was at the heart of the town's past and present.

“There are modern gas support vessels alongside historic ships – as well as militia re-enactors, shanty singers, and demonstrations of traditional crafts,” she explained, adding: “People love the atmosphere of the smells and sounds along the quayside.”

There will also be jet ski demonstrations in the river, a visiting motor torpedo boat and pleasure trip vessel, as well as barbecues cooking herring – the fish which made Great Yarmouth famous and prosperous before it became a tourist resort.

The free-entry festival aims to showcase the town's seafaring history and highlight there is “more to Great Yarmouth than the seafront” said Mrs Mobbs.

The event is staged by the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area, as part of its drive to attract visitors and spending to the borough using a levy from local traders. Its chairman Gareth Brown said: “The Maritime Festival is a fantastic event that draws people from far and wide to the Great Yarmouth area, celebrating our strong nautical culture both historic and current. It’s something we’re delighted to continue to support.”

At a sponsors’ launch event Mrs Mobbs praised the local businesses who backed the festival with donations in cash and kind.

She thanked them for their support, in tough trading times, for an event which would not happen without their backing which covers more than half the costs.

Blair Ainslie, chief executive of main sponsors Seajacks, which runs a fleet up jack-up rigs working on offshore energy sites across the world, said: "We are a Great Yarmouth maritime company so it makes perfect sense to support an event which shows off the town and its seafaring heritage at its best."

Mayor Malcolm Bird told the launch the festival was a great event which brought trippers and trade to the town.

A short film, called Making Waves, about the festival is the latest in a series of mini movies about the area's tourism offer which can be found on the website www.great-yarmouth.co.uk

Maritime Festival sponsors are: Seajacks, Eon, Statoil, Gardline, Stephenson Smart, Persimmon, HKB Wiltshires, Bateman Groundworks, MDF Transport, and Elm Contracts. The event is also supported by Peel Ports and Great Yarmouth Borough Council.