Dr Paul Richards, member of the King’s Lynn Conservancy Board responsible for the navigation and pilotage of the port, takes a look at activity over the last few weeks. His column appears every two months in Your Local Paper. Pictured is the Ardenfast with “rescued” firemen. It was taken by Paul Bailey, conservancy board deputy harbour master.


During April and May, 18 merchant ships arrived and 18 departed King’s Lynn port with five and 11 vessels in ballast respectively.  

This has been a period of subdued activity but some ships have been larger than usual. The significance of timber imports was again evident.  

Four ships sailed from Kaskinen in Finland to unload (part cargoes) at Seaham in north-east England, before proceeding to Lynn. 

In April, the Swe Freighter arrived in the Great Ouse from Skelleftea in Sweden to unload (part cargo), then taking the remainder to New Holland on the Humber.  

In May the Alstertal from the same harbour discharged timber (part cargo) at Lynn before sailing to Hull.

Farmers in Lynn’s extensive agricultural hinterland are the customers for imported fertilisers. A part cargo was discharged by the Wilson Weser from Klaipeda in Lithuania via Rosyth near Edinburgh.

Full cargoes were landed at the port by the Lily-B from Amsterdam and the Sormovskiy 3051 from Ust-Luga near St Petersburg. 

At 119 metres in length, the latter Russian ship is the longest able to access the docks and needed the Lynn Conservancy Board tug to arrive and sail safely. It required the whole width of the river to allow exit and swing to head seaward.

The Arklow Forest carried to Lynn a cargo of maize and soya (separated by bulkheads) from La Pallice on the French Atlantic coast. From Klaipeda in Lithuania the Fri Martin unloaded another cargo of maize and departed in ballast without knowing the next destination (Sea for Orders).

Vermiculite is a mineral used as an insulation material and a cargo from Rotterdam was landed by H&S Fairness.   

From Randers in Denmark, the Atlas arrived at Lynn with aggregate for the building industry which is a regular run.

Exports were unusually limited this period. Four loads of scrap metal were carried by ships from The Wash with three cargoes to the Belgium ports of Antwerp and Ghent. 

The fourth load was carried to Pasajes in Spain by the Suderau which had arrived in ballast from the Hanseatic city of Hamburg, which has historic trading links with Lynn.

The Jumbo sailed on April 8 with a cargo of barley to Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port. In April the training ship Smit Dee (sister vessel to our usual visitor Smit Spey) made a call as part of its RAF crew training programme. The Smit Spey itself returned after refit in light grey colours in May. 

Also in May, Conservancy Board staff worked with the fire service both to provide a safety boat during a waterside training exercise and pumping out a large houseboat moored on the pontoons. 

The St Edmund had to replace a navigation beacon on top of the training wall which had been struck by a boat – an example of the important jobs regularly undertaken by the  Conservancy Board.

 The Associated British Ports manager, Kim Kennedy, opened an exhibition to mark the 150th anniversary of the Alexandra Dock (1869 – 2019) at Lynn’s True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum on June 1.  

The new dock was instrumental in the revival of the port after the railways had robbed Lynn of much of its coastal and river traffic. A project linked to Lynn’s maritime heritage for school children is to be sponsored by ABP and True’s Yard will be involved.