This week CAMBRIA, a fully restored Thames sail powered working barge paid a brief but welcome return to Great Yarmouth, before being piloted up the river to the City of Norwich. Cambria was built in 1906 in Kent. She has the recognition of being the last British vessel to carry commercial cargo under sail. The barge now operates as a floating residential training base. She was open to visitors informally on Wednesday and in the evening, a number of people gathered to play folk music on deck, creating a wonderful genial atmosphere on the riverside.
Cambria moored alongside Corporation Quay, just above the landmark Carrow Bridge. Attached to the bridge is a diminutive office building, jutting out above the river ~ the Norwich headquarters of the Great Yarmouth Port & Haven Commissioners for several decades. Immediately downstream is the former Harbour Master's House. The Commissioners were generally a respected institution, who controlled all aspects of the navigable rivers of Broadland from the 1670's, during the reign of Charles II, right up until 1989, when they were unceremoniously disbanded. In subsequent years, the name and purposes of the Commissioners have virtually been whitewashed from history.
Today it is a rare sight to see any vessel mooring for more than 24 hours, in what was once a vibrant, living inland port, supporting a multitude of trades for the local population. Surprisingly, most of the extensive wharves through the city are deserted, or built over. Hopefully berths for a variety of craft ~ both permanent and short term can be enhanced along the water front in the capitol of East Anglia.