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JennyMorgan

A Norfolk Keel?

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I have seen paintings and etchings of Norfolk Keels, the forerunner of the Norfolk & Suffolk wherry, but never a photograph. But just maybe this unrigged lighter is actually a Keel? The shape of the rudder, aft cabin and rounded bow suggest that it might be. This photo, taken in Lowestoft Harbour, from the mid to late 1800's just might be a Keel.

Lowestoft Norfolk Keel.jpg

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A well know Broads commentator has suggested to me that the above is not a keel, rather that it is an early wherry. I have since looked at a model and also an engraving & note that the cabin of a keel was generally forward rather than aft. Oh well, a photo of a keel might still surface, just not today!

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I think your Broads commentator (can't think who you mean!) may be right but he may be wrong.

It does look like other photos of an early wherry but I think that they were much smaller. If this is a keel then the end which is moored to the wharf is the bow and we are looking at the fore cabin. There appears to be a small angled transom at the other end which would be right for a keel. As they were square rigged, with the mast in the centre of the hold, there was room on the foredeck for a quite large cabin. The aft cabin was a lot lower, almost flush with the standing "rightups".

Keels were only used on the Yare and were large vessels, a lot bigger than the Albion. I must be one of the last people left who has been on board a keel, and walked over her decks. She was a hulk in a dyke by then but she was still very much whole and you could see exactly what she looked like. From what I remember of her I would be happy that your photo is of a keel.

I have found a photo of what must be the one that I remember and I will scan it later in the day.

 

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Keel.jpeg.2394759b8f28a19da69921b1ff7d5d44.jpeg

This is taken from Wherries and Waterways, by Robert Maltster.

As it says that she was the last of the keels and she ended up with "Ho' Bro's" on Griffin lane, I assume this is the same one that I remember, laid up in the Whitlingham Sewage Works dyke, when I was a boy. A lot of Ho' Bro's wherries ended up sunk down the bank there, on Postwick reach.

In the photo, we are looking at the bow of the keel, not the stern. Can be confusing!

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1 hour ago, Vaughan said:

I think your Broads commentator (can't think who you mean!) may be right but he may be wrong.

It does look like other photos of an early wherry but I think that they were much smaller. If this is a keel then the end which is moored to the wharf is the bow and we are looking at the fore cabin. There appears to be a small angled transom at the other end which would be right for a keel. As they were square rigged, with the mast in the centre of the hold, there was room on the foredeck for a quite large cabin. The aft cabin was a lot lower, almost flush with the standing "rightups".

Keels were only used on the Yare and were large vessels, a lot bigger than the Albion. I must be one of the last people left who has been on board a keel, and walked over her decks. She was a hulk in a dyke by then but she was still very much whole and you could see exactly what she looked like. From what I remember of her I would be happy that your photo is of a keel.

I have found a photo of what must be the one that I remember and I will scan it later in the day.

 

For Broads Commentator read Jamie Campbell.

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1 hour ago, Vaughan said:

Who?   :default_biggrin:

Some old reprobate!

 

Vaughan, Jamie wonders if the keel of your youth is the one that was pulled from the bank with the mislead good intention of preserving?

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Yes, I believe so, although I was not in Norfolk when that happened. The keel was in the sewage works dyke up ahead of the Thames spritsail barge "Harold Margetts" whose stern could be seen at the edge of the river. How they ever got her out of there, I can't imagine!

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James Hobrough & Son, I presume that's how Hobroughs Dyke got its name?

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Quite right.

There was also a lightering company called P.E.Thain who had mostly converted motor wherries but I can't remember where their yard was.

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3 hours ago, Vaughan said:

Quite right.

There was also a lightering company called P.E.Thain who had mostly converted motor wherries but I can't remember where their yard was.

Potter I do believe

 

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To me Pete, that looks like an early Wherry, with the stern moored against the jetty and the flared bow up 'tother end.

I shall see one of the old gits later, as despite Robert Malsters comment, I am not entirely convinced about the other picture either! I am not sure when the last keel was actually about, but it would have been pretty early. In the condition as shown, wherries, and keels, didn't last long - why should they when there were tens of replacements all over the place. However it could well have been - far be it for me to disagree with Robert!!

It is a bit sad that we don't have any keels left and that Dee Dah's remains went up someones wood burner but had it still been around, there would have been the perennial posts about rebuilding it! The mistake was taking it out of the mud but perhaps JC can remember exactly where it was removed from - my recollection it was nearer the present viaduct and on the Postwick side but I could easily be wrong. The good thing is that before it went up in smoke, detailed records were made and I guess loads of photos taken, and I would hope I can get access to those fairly easily. Or I know a man who can!!

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I recall seeing the keel under the poly tunnel down king street about 1988. Did anything develop eg building a model or replica?

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9 minutes ago, Turnoar said:

I recall seeing the keel under the poly tunnel down king street about 1988. Did anything develop eg building a model or replica?

It was measured & photographed, a Mr Royal made a model, but the hoped for restoration to at least reasonable display standards never materialised, the remains were shamefully burned. It would have been better if she had been left alone.

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If you go to the Broadland memories website (well worth a visit!) look up the photo archive for the 1970s and at the bottom of page 4 is a photo of the hulk of the Thames barge Harold Margetts, in the sewage works dyke on Postwick reach. When I was there by boat last year, the whole dyke and the wreck had completely disappeared and grown over, even though I knew where it was. There were two dykes in fact, which ran parallel and were used in the building of the sewage works. One of them was right beside this wherry loading platform, which many will recognise :

100_3419.thumb.jpg.fda9e2a2e2e442ed8807a655597906f4.jpg

The other was about 400 yards further up.

If it now turns out that the Keel Dee Dah was raised from the bank at Postwick Grove, then it would have been just behind and to the left of the picture below :

 

100_3422.thumb.jpg.d7b33e15ee1d468d81b7ebc00da10146.jpg

In the 50s there was a long line of wherry hulks on the left bank here, almost down to the Woods End, but now there is nothing at all left to be seen. In addition, there were no trees in those days! They had always been kept clear by the wherrymen, to give them a clear wind up to Norwich. The loading platform in the first photo can be seen down the bank on the right.

So if the Dee Dah was raised from Postwick Grove then there is another keel, up the dyke in front of the Harold Margetts! I very much doubt there would be anything left of her now, as she was not sunk in the first place and the last time I saw her was around 60 years ago. But as they say in Norfolk : "Yew carn' see it, but thass there!"

Judging by Nigel Royall's model of the Dee Dah in the link posted by Peter I can't see much doubt that the boat in Peter's photo is a keel.

 

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Thank you, Vaughan. If we take the height of the forward crew member on my photo as 5'6" then we can quickly ascertain the length of the 'lighter' as being 45' to 50', bigger than an early wherry. I wonder if Holbrough worked on Lowestoft Harbour? If they did then I wonder if the picture is actually Dee Dar. I need to print off a picture and scale it as accurately as I can.

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