Wherries are large flat bottomed boats which were used in Norfolk to carry cargo... a bit like a lorry but on water! The wherries were about 18m long; (if you include the rudder they would be 20m long).
That’s a bit more than fourteen average 10 year old children lying down. They had very large black sails and could carry lots of cargo such as grain. .
This is the Albion wherry which still sails today
Wherries in Aylsham
A canal or Navigation was built in Aylsham so that boats could sail from here to Yarmouth. This happened in 1772 when an act of parliament was obtained for constructing locks and digging channels for a canal. The work was completed to the staithe at Aylsham in late 1779, allowing wherries to travel from Aylsham through to Yarmouth. At the beginning of the 19th century, wherrymen were paid by the voyage - 35 shillings for a round trip from Aylsham to Yarmouth, which took a week to complete.
This is a wherry outside the mill in Aylsham. You can see the cargo on the boat.
William Federick Starling 1851 - 1937
In Starling's book he remembers what the wherrymen looked like.
I will tell you about our wherryman and their two days holiday, the 29th - 30th May. They used to come up two or three days before, and get their wherries all ready for return, and then on the 29th, come out in all their glory - nice white duck trousers, blue cloth waistcoat and coat with bright golden buttons, blue cloth cap with patent peak, and a lot of smart fellow they were.
A wherry in full sail
Wherries were also part of the annual school treat
We found this description of a school trip on a wherry in a Parish magazine from 1856.
The annual treat was held on Thursday afternoon - August 6th 1856. There had been a little rain in the morning, and fears about the weather were in the minds of most. The children, however, had no doubt, for they mustered in good force - 155 boys and 151 girls and 70 infants. A start was made from the schools at 1.45. On reaching the Market Place the Procession was headed by the band and marched through Red Lion and White Hart streets, Gas House Hill and Millgate, to the Staithe, where three wherries, kindly lent by Messrs Bullock Brothers and Mr Shreeve, took the children, their teachers and a few helpers, down the river and through the lock to a meadow, the use of which, Mr W Case had given with his usual liberality, and where Mrs case and some more helpers had already begun to prepare a good store of tea and eatables.
Locks - How do they work?
The wherries sailed through locks. A lock controls different levels of water .Watch the cartoon to see how they work.
THE WHERRIES TRANSPORTED BARLEY, COALS, MAIZE, SEED, BEANS, FLOUR, GRAVEL AND MANY OTHER GOODS!