June 3rd, 2019
A piece of floating history has been recreated to help youngsters explore a Norfolk Broads environmental haven.
School pupils are sailing down the river at How Hill in a wooden “reed lighter” boat, like the ones that used to transport roofing materials along the river.
And the classic boat has been specially built in East Anglia at a college keeping the time-honoured skills alive.
The reed lighter will be used to transport hundreds of youngsters each year during day and residential courses to study the landscape and wildlife of the Broads.
It is named the Alderman Norman II after the charitable educational trust in memory of an 18th century mayor of Norwich which paid for it.
And it was built by the International Boatbuilding Training College at Oulton Broad near Lowestoft, using the skills of recent graduate Alex Hunter, 35, from Norwich, who now works at the college’s commercial boatbuilding arm, which supports its training work.
How Hill director Simon Partridge said: “The boat is magnificent – and we are thrilled it was made at a centre which is keeping alive wooden boatbuilding skills.
“Our visitors will ride in it to explore Barton Broad and the marshes – including seeing crops of reeds which boats like this helped harvest. But we could not have done it without the generosity of the Alderman Norman Foundation which also paid for another boat in 1988.”
The foundation’s chairman the Rev Jonathan Boston smashed a bottle of bubbly over the bows at an official launch at the Swallowtail boatyard in Ludham which maintains the How Hill fleet.
The 23ft boat took seven months to build, from an oak and hardwood frame clad in larch planks. It is painted in Donegal Green, with black tar varnish below the waterline.