Dr Paul Richards, member of the King’s Lynn Conservancy Board responsible for the navigation and pilotage of the port, takes a closer look at activity over the last few weeks. Pictured: The Lady Clara being loaded with wheat


In August and September, 34 cargo ships arrived and departed Lynn. Some sailed in ballast. 

Associated British Ports (ABP) also undertook maintenance dredging with Cherry Sand and the bed leveller UKD Seahorse. Silt enters the two docks every time the gates are opened and must be removed. A carefully managed disposal site is five miles north of Lynn.

Timber from Finland and Sweden was the principal import to supply Britain’s building industry. Of eight ships arriving at Lynn, five had part unloaded at Seaham or Hull or Rochester. The other three part discharged their cargoes at Antwerp –Europe’s fourth largest port. Two vessels from Randers in Denmark unloaded aggregate for home construction projects.

Four ships transported fertiliser. Single cargoes arrived from Ghent, Amsterdam, police on the Polish Baltic and Tees. Two of these vessels had their holds cleaned after discharging their loads and reloaded corn for export.

The Fri Martin carried maize from Bordeaux in France. The port was associated with Lynn for several centuries, sending wine in great quantities in return for cereals. Historic wine cellars can be found alongside the Ouse.

Lynn’s staple export is cereals. Seven ships departed the Ouse with barley, four of which headed for Ireland. Two other vessels unloaded at Rotterdam and another at Amsterdam. Three more carried wheat to Rotterdam. The Zeus transported a cargo of part wheat and part barley to Reykjavik in Iceland. Lynn ships were taking foodstuffs to Iceland in return for fish in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The Drait took a part cargo of wheat and part of beans to Bilbao in Spain.  Bilbao was also the destination for two vessels carrying scrap metal and another two took the same cargo to Bayonne in France. The Lady Anne Lynn had brought aggregate from Denmark before loading a full cargo of beans for Oristano in Sardinia (a voyage of about two weeks).

Bremen is an important Hanseatic town and pictured is a modern ship being loaded with wheat for the German port.  The box-shaped holds facilitate cargo handling by machinery and moveable bulkheads allow the vessel to load a variety of cargoes. Here the wheat has been loaded into slightly reduced hold size to ensure it is full to contain movement which could destabilise the vessel once at sea.

Exports included three cargoes of rapeseed shipped to Erith on the Thames.  Although a relatively short distance by road, over 9,000 tons carried in three ships saves money as well as removing heavy lorries from busy roads.

The King’s Lynn Conservancy Board (KLCB) on Common Staithe opened its doors on Heritage Open Day (September 10) and welcomed hundreds of visitors.  Access to the refurbished pilot tower (1864) attracted many. The former pilot tower was once opposite True’s Yard Museum before the Estuary Cut opened in 1853. The two docks today occupy a large area of what was the ancient estuary of the Ouse.

ABP opened its new £2.2m agribulk Hanse Terminal in September with guests and representatives from True’s Yard and St Edmund’s School.

It is a symbol of ABP’s commitment to Lynn and the name emphasises its past and present links with the Hanseatic ports across northern Europe. Lynn, Hull, Boston and Ipswich are the four English members of the New Hanseatic League which aims to foster business partnerships.