Dr Paul Richards, member of the King’s Lynn Conservancy Board responsible for the navigation and pilotage of the port, takes a regular look at the port activity. Pictured is the Helena Anna (wheat) and the Soniland (timber) being discharged on the riverside quay.

Over August and September, 35 ships arrived and 35 departed our King’s Lynn Wash port with 19 and 17 vessels in ballast respectively. This was a significant increase in trade compared to the previous two months.

Scandinavian wood remains the major import and six ships unloaded cargoes.  Five vessels from Europe had already part discharged timber at other east coast harbours before arriving at Lynn.

The exception was the Scot Venture which had sailed from Varberg in Sweden direct to Lynn to deliver a part cargo and then departed for Rochester.

Three ships carried wheat from the German Baltic ports of Wolgast and Vierow (2) and another vessel arrived from the Hanseatic port of Hamburg on the North Sea. These shipments reflect a poor wheat harvest in England which has imported grain from north German ports in such circumstances since 1300.

Ships transporting aggregate for the construction industry from Randers in Denmark to Lynn is a regular run and the Brufjell arrived with a load in September. A second cargo was transported to the Wash by the Frak Sund, but this time from Oslo. A few days later, the Wilson Tees docked at Lynn with a cargo of vermiculite (a mineral used as an insulation material) from Rotterdam. 

Not only is our Wash port handling high volumes of barley export but barley is even being imported to undergo the malting process before being exported back to Scotland. In September three ships carried malting barley from Buckie in north east Scotland to Lynn, including the Eems Spring, which had 12 days earlier transported a cargo of malted barley to Buckie.

Barley was once again the principal export, with 12 vessels departing the Wash and all with Rotterdam as their destination. This highlights the leading role of Europe’s largest port in handling various commodities for distribution via continental rivers and canals.

Export of scrap from Lynn is also a regular traffic and five ships departed the Bentinck dock (the location of the mini scrap mountain). The Seg and Sandal are two smaller Wisbech-operated ships which carried cargoes to Dordrecht (Netherlands) and Klaipeda (Lithuania) in August respectively.

The Sail transported a second such cargo to Klaipeda. In September Antwerp in Belgium was the destination for two more loads of scrap shipped by the Sandal and RMS Ratingen.

The King’s Lynn Conservancy Board (KLCB) and Associated British Ports (APB) work together to keep our Wash port safe for navigation and protect the environment.  

In September they were both involved in an exercise to demonstrate their statutory ability to manage any oil spill which may occur in local waters.  

KLCB pilot boat United has returned to service following a thorough overhaul by staff of the 30-year-old glass fibre superstructure. It has included a change of colour to orange (for visibility) with a green deck.

ABP is planning to replace under cover timber storage following the damage caused by Storm Dennis.

Since 1869 the dock estate has encompassed the Fisher Fleet which was “absolutely full” before 1914 and 26 whelkers were accommodated in the Alexandra dock. 

On calm days these smacks departed the dock behind big cargo ships towed by the KLCB steam tug. Not until the 1920s did Lynn fishing boats have engines as an auxiliary to sail.

Today just two Lynn fishing boats are potting for crab and lobster but the season is near the end with the whelk season to come. The cockle fishery is currently closed but 22 boats are beam trawling for brown shrimps and three more fitting out to do likewise.