We are very pleased to have acquired whelker Bessie from Trevor Farman in Yarmouth, from where she was delivered to Morston Quay by Abbey Transport Ltd on December 7th 2011. She is one of the last remaining Johnson-built whelkers, and had an engine and a dipping lugsail. She is 26 ft long and 10 ft wide.
She was built by Johnson in approximately 1935 for the Cox family who whelked with her out of Wells-next-the-Sea for approximately 30 years, license number LN 16. Squeakie Bishop then bought her and used her for angling parties, first from Blakeney and then Gorleston, where she has been used as a pleasure and fishing boat ever since.
We think she might be a Dunkirk Little Ship, and are currently researching this.
During the winter of 2013 and 2014 essential work was carried out on Bessie to repair damage and keep her stable until she has her major refit. At the same time the added wheel house was removed and her decks strengthened, so she looks much more like her original 1935 self. David Hewitt and Tom Gathercole carried out the work, with plenty of help from volunteers.
We regard Bessie as a very important boat. She needs major restoration and a new engine.
October 31st 2015
Whelker Harvester has been generously donated to Rescue Wooden Boats by Graeme Peart. She was built in 1951 by Emery of Sheringham and her first owner was Sid "Custard" Cooper. David Hewitt restored her for Graeme Peart as a pleasure boat and she now has a gaff rig. She needs some maintenance to get her back afloat.
Restoration on Harvester continues. David has taken out the engine in order to get to the keel bolts. The stern post had to be removed, as the bolts would not tighten due to rust. The aft apron needs attention and the engine will be serviced while out, and the drive plate will be checked.