Historic Link for Ayton Products
One of the more unusual uses of bitumen manufactured by Ayton Products, the product manufacturing business of the May Gurney Group, was in the successful restoration of the historic Trading Wherry Albion, owned by the Norfolk Wherry Trust.
The Wherry Albion, a 112 year old traditional Norfolk Wherry, and known as a ‘black sailed trader’ is one of only two remaining trading barges built specifically for the Broads.
At their peak there were over 300 of these craft, but now Albion is the only one available for hire.
In the summer months during the Edwardian era, skippers scrubbed out the holds, which had been used for carrying coal, cattle cake and other ‘dirty’ cargo and took holiday makers for trips to make extra money.
During the Albion’s recent re-fit at the Excelsior Yard, Lake Lothing, Lowestoft, 85/25 grade oxidized bitumen, manufactured at Wymondham, was used to waterproof her.
May Gurney has a close link with these historic vessels as in 1940 it bought James Hobrough & Sons, a maritime enterprise which had worked extensively on the Broads and in excavating a half mile section of the Haddiscoe cut on the Lowestoft to Norwich Navigation, as well as piling and other marine works at Oulton Lock.
May Gurney acquired a full fleet of dredgers, some of which were Norfolk Wherries just like the Albion, piling craft and associated equipment, as well as the dockyard at Thorpe (since sold to the Broads Authority).
Martin Symes of The Norfolk Wherry Trust commented ‘this is probably one of the more unusual uses for your products but nevertheless an important one as it waterproofs the flush planked oak used in the Albion’s construction’.
Jon Hood, Ayton Products Sales Manager said ‘our bitumen products are normally associated with highway and roofing applications, but we were delighted to help with this project, and demonstrates well the myriad of alternative and valuable uses for them.’
The first photograph shows the Albion just prior to re-launch after this years re-fit, prior to her return to her base at Womack Water Ludham, and the second shows her sailing majestically on the Broads. The Albion is available for charter and more information on this historic vessel can be found at www.wherryalbion.com
Pic 1. Wherry Albion at re-fit
Pic 2 Wherry Albion on the Broads