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History of the
Norfolk Wherries

Earliest Trading Wherries

Norfolk Trading Wherries were developed in the early 17th century to carry cargo across the Broads and by the 19th century there were hundreds in operation. Unfortunately, the development of faster modes of transport, such as rail and road, ultimately led to their demise.

In the late 19th century, a group of enterprising owners decided to offer pleasure cruises during the summer months. These pioneering wherrymen temporarily converted the hold into two cabins: one for ladies and one for gentlemen. At the end of the season the wherries would revert to their former commercial role to earn their keep for the rest of the year.  By the turn of the 20th century over a hundred converted trading wherries were available for hire.    

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Pleasure Wherries

Building on this success, many new purpose-built pleasure wherries were soon being constructed featuring a number of subtle changes.  The black tar sails were replaced with clean white ones so as not to dirty passengers' fancy Edwardian clothing. They featured high quality teak pitch pine or mahogany interiors and significantly improved the standard of accommodation, with a saloon and more separate sleeping cabins.  


Many of these were built for private hire but some were also built for private ownership such as Hathor and Ardea. 

Wherry yacht Ardea interior_D9A4264_edit

Wherry Yachts

Victorians developed the final and most luxurious incarnation - the wherry yacht.  Keeping the luxury interiors, refinements were now made to the trading wherry’s exterior design, to reflect the sleek elegance of the finest cruising yachts of the era. A counter stern provided more deck space, perfect for passengers to relax on without being interrupted by the lowering and raising of the sail.


Only a handful of wherry yachts were built, including Norada and Olive.


White Moth was the last wherry yacht to be built in 1915. 


Wherry yacht White Moth on Wroxham Broad_D9A4106.jpg

Would you like to charter a wherry?

Please email our friendly team to discuss your requirements

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