While on your Norfolk Broads boating holiday you may be lucky enough to get a glimpse of a Norfolk Wherry. They are sail and oar boats that were used for carrying passengers and transporting cargo. Prior to these wherries were the keels that were much larger barges that could carry up to 30 tons. These were replaced by wherries from around 1800 due to their large size meaning they were slow and difficult to manoeuvre.
Norfolk Broads Wherries
Wherries were used to carry cargo from the coast to Norwich as well as smaller staithes. They are recognisable by their single large sail and forward-placed mast. In their prime there were up to 350 wherries on the Broads supporting a large industry. However, once railways became more advanced they replaced wherries for transporting cargo. Many were sunk in dykes and some were used in World War II to try and stop sea planes landing on the water. Some evidence of these sunken wherries can be seen in very low water at Salhouse, Oulton and Surlingham Broads.
However, as railways improved visitors to the Norfolk Broads did too. Pleasure wherries became popular when it was realised that the Norfolk Broads were a great destination for tourism. In 1860 William Cooke fitted out the first wherry for use by tourists.
Today there are 8 surviving sailing wherries.