Appeals: Norfolk Keel Trust

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The Independent Online
The remains of a keel found by divers in the River Yare at Whitlingham, Norfolk, in 1984. The keel, a 55ft passenger and cargo-carrying boat dating from the late 18th century, is being held in a steel cradle and protected by a tarpaulin in Norwich. The Norfolk Keel Trust is appealing for funds for the next stages of conservation. The boat needs to be drawn accurately - every nail and peg measured and noted - and then dismantled so that each piece of wood can be treated with a chemical wood preservative. The next stage involves rebuilding the keel, giving her a new bow, and replacing other missing parts. A long-term plan is to display her permanently at the proposed Museum of the Broads, a new museum based on the history of the Norfolk Broads and the surrounding area.

The keel had its origins in Scandinavia. With distinctive square sails and central masts, which made it difficult to sail into the wind, it survived up to the end of the 18th century in Norfolk. Competition came in the form of the faster and nippier triangular-sailed wherry, introduced by Dutch refugees in the 16th century.

The trust's keel dates from between 1790 and 1820. Her last sailing master, 'Tiger' Smith, used her to carry timber to Hospital Meadow in the centre of Norwich; later the boat was used, half-dismantled, for dredging work, and, in 1890, buried as a bank support.

The Norfolk Keel Trust needs pounds 40,000- 50,000 to pay for each stage of restoration. For further information, contact: The Norfolk Keel Trust, The Cabinet, High Street, Coltishall, Norfolk NR12 7AA, telephone 0508 20236.

Photograph: Steve Hill / Assignments

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