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 months. His column appears every two months in Your Local Paper. Pictured is the Paramar departing Lynn in ballast for Boston to load processed waste for Sweden.

Over December and January, 33 cargo ships arrived and 33 departed King’s Lynn Port with 15 and 14 in ballast respectively.  Trade was rather more buoyant in December than January.

The increased fresh water flows in January caused some shoaling in the Great Ouse so the work boat UKD Seahorse spent a weekend operating alongside Riverside Quay. 

The St Edmund (King’s Lynn Conservancy Board vessel) has undertaken similar smaller scale work on approaches to the docks.

Timber from the Baltic has for long been a staple import and four full cargoes at Lynn from Latvia and Sweden. Another four vessels discharged part cargoes of Baltic wood after first unloading at Hull (2), Seaham and Boston.

Lynn is currently a destination for vessels from north German ports carrying wheat. Six shipments arrived from Hamburg (2), Vierow (2), Stralsund and Wolgast.  The latter three are Baltic harbours but Hamburg is on the Elbe river which empties into the North Sea. 

This is the largest city in the Hanseatic League whose merchants have traded with Lynn for more than 800 years.

Hanseatic ships in the 15th century profited from regular “triangular” runs not uncommon today.  Eastern Virage has in recent months been importing German wheat to Lynn and exporting barley to the Low Countries before returning to the Baltic to load more wheat.

The Celtic Forester sailed from La Pallice and arrived in Lynn on January 12 to discharge a mixed cargo of maize and soya.  

This French Atlantic harbour is the deep water port of La Rochelle whose salt and wine were imported by Lynn merchants in the past.

In December the Wilson Mosel and Wilson Elbe transported cargoes of vermiculite to Lynn from Rotterdam and Antwerp respectively. This is a mineral used as an insulation material.

The Nikar G docked from Randers in Denmark on January 13 with aggregate for the construction industry.

Barley continues as Lynn’s principal export and eight shipments went (the Eastern Virage took three) to five ports in Holland and Belgium. Four vessels sailed to Rotterdam which Dutch city has historic trading ties with Lynn where several of its merchants had houses in 1700.

Both the River Trader and Fri Dolphin carried cargoes of malted barley from Lynn to Buckie in north-east Scotland. YLP readers will be familiar with this traffic which sees Scottish barley shipped to Norfolk for malting.

Scrap metal has become a principal export and six shipments went from Lynn to European ports. The Seg out of Wisbech transported three of these six cargoes to Antwerp in Belgium (2) and to Klaipeda in Lithuania.  

Beans from the farmlands of the eastern counties were exported from Lynn to Norway in medieval times and both the Selvaagsund and Wilson Bergen carried loads to Floro near Bergen. A third cargo of beans was taken by the Burgtor to Rouen on the river Seine in northern France. 

Ships trading through Lynn are represented by three main agents. The greatest number are handled “in house” by Associated British Ports (ABP King’s Lynn).  Clarkson Port Services, of Ipswich manage most of the German wheat imports as well as some barley and beans exports.  

In recent months Uniconnection Ship Agency based in Brightlingsea has become involved with the shipment of scrap to the Baltic states.

The UK was a member of the European Union for nearly 50 years until Brexit was completed in December 2020.  

English east coast ports dependent on trade with Europe such as Lynn have now entered a new age in their long association with the continent.