Once a thriving sea-port, Cley-next-the-Sea saw cargoes of grain, malt, cloth and spices exported to and imported from Europe. But centuries of siltation and land reclamation left this beautiful North Norfolk port, for a time one of the busiest ports in the UK, almost completely un-navigable.
More than four years of tireless fundraising and dredging by the Parish Council and local community has seen the once almost completely clogged channel, opened up, and ready for business.
On 27th October, a crowd of over a hundred stood in the shadow of the historic Cley Windmill to welcome in “Salford”, a traditional 30ft wooden boat built in nearby King’s Lynn.
The first commercial vessel to enter the harbour in over 60 years, this beautiful 30ft former Welker carried a consignment of locally produced beer, sailed over from Wells, and delivered into the eager arms of staff from the Mill.
A warm welcome was also extended to Nicholas Coppack, chairman of North Norfolk District Council, who presented Cley Harbour with the NNDC Environment Award for 2018.
Simon Read, Chairman of Cley Harbour committee said “This significant event saw the culmination of a lot of hard work by the community of Cley, who have spent more than four years working on their Harbour to save it from dereliction. For the first time in 60 years it was possible for a thirty foot commercial, sailing vessel to again reach Cley Harbour. Cley as a port has been up and running again for the last three years after an initial dredge to clear the harbour of mud, since then it has again become a focus for the village with smaller boats coming and going on the high tides. The arrival of Salford timed with the presentation of NNDC’s Environment award for the Harbour has set a bench mark for its continued use. A community project that has involved the whole village and now benefits wildlife too with otters, kingfishers and herons and seals regularly seen.
Henry Chamberlain on the Coastal Exploration Company said “We at the Coastal Exploration Company are committed to deliver goods sustainably along the East Anglian Coast. We couldn’t be happier to be a part of this truly historic event, and cannot wait for our next cargo run from Wells to the Bank House in Kings Lynn.”