The Norfolk Broads are the large lakes in Norfolk formed from the Middle Ages peat diggings into which water from the surrounding fens and marshy land gradually drained. They and the interconnecting rivers form a network over a large part of the county which nowadays is immensely popular as a holiday venue for people who love boats. Some sail their own vessel, some hire one, some go just to watch the others and enjoy the excitement of the regattas.
But it was not always so. Once the typical sight on the Broads was that of the keels and the black-sailed traders – the wherries.
Norfolk wherries, with their one huge sail, were trading vessels built particularly to suit the shallow waterways of the Broads and the often narrow rivers linking them.
Whatever the origin of vessels like the Albion, it was Dutch boats visiting Britain 400 years ago with their fore-and-aft rig that really brought about the big change. Till then unknown in this country, this rigging possessed obvious advantages when the strength of the wind dropped.