by Des Ryan
How would you like to go fishing in a boat like THIS? Lydia Eva is the last steam drifter in the world and she is expected to be launched, completely restored, in the UK by August at Lowestoft, thanks to a generous gift and a lot of hard work.
For the past year the classic 98ft fishing boat has been under restoration. A Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £839,000 was awarded to the vessel and work began on 1 March 2007, when local shipyard Small & Co hauled the boat out, beginning to strip the hull back to bare metal to enable a detailed survey. The HLF grant and money raised by the trust total nearly £1.2 million, but the trust needed to raise another £100,000 to pay for renewal of rigging as well as restoration of the wheelhouse and crew quarters.
The remaining work will be carried out by the International Boatbuilding Training College at Lowestoft. The Trust hopes to complete the work in time for her to be launched and set sail for Great Yarmouth for their celebrations in August.
History of the Lydia Eva:
Lydia Eva project
LYDIA EVA was the last vessel built by the Kings Lynn Slipway Company at a yard where a pea-canning factory now stands. She was ordered by Harry Eastick, member of the Gorleston-on-Sea family which has owned and sailed drifters for over 120 years. At her launching she was given the name of his daughter. She was larger than most of the drifters, and intended to be fast and to carry half as many nets again as other craft.
Her size also allowed a trawl winch to be fitted forward of the wheelhouse so that she could change from drifting to trawling in 48 hours. LYDIA EVA fished for eight years before the great slump. Mr. Geoffrey Banes of the Caernavonshire Yacht Company found her a new career as a mooring depot for the Air Ministry's Bombing and Gunnery School at Abersock.
From the Welsh coast she moved to Ilfracombe Maryport in Cumberland, to Weymouth, and then to Whitehaven where she stayed until 1960. Her last duty was with the Marine Services Division of the Royal Navy of Pembroke Dock in South Wales.
In 1969, she was bought by the Maritime Trust for preservation, restored, open to public at Yarmouth between 1970-78, and then in London between 1978-86. She was laid up from 1986-90 and then she was chartered by the Lydia Eva Trust and returned to East Anglia for restoration and display.
28.96 metres (94.95 feet)
3.233 metres (10.60 feet)
6.25 metres (20.49 feet)