Pleasure Wherry Ardea: history
Ardea was built in 1927 at Leo Robinson’s yard in Lowestoft, having been commissioned by local benefactor Howard Hollingsworth, millionaire co-founder of the Oxford Street department store Bourne and Hollingsworth. It is reputed that the project was partly a response to the depression in the local boatbuilding industry. Launched in the presence of King George V she remained on the Broads for 30 years, chartered for holidays as a sailing vessel and latterly as a skippered motor craft. In the late 1950s she was sold to Howard Dunkerley, who took her to France. She was then a houseboat in Paris, undergoing changes of owner and even abandonment, until 1974 when she was bought by Philippe Rouff. Reinstated as a charter vessel she travelled the European canal system in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, until she was sold, reluctantly, in 2005. She returned to the Norfolk Broads (by lorry!) and was the subject of extensive restoration by Maynard Watson for her then owners, Phillip and Sarah Davies.
Taking her name from the latin name for the heron family, Ardea features a heron silhouette on her vane. She is unique amongst the surviving wherries in being built of teak and having a varnished, rather than painted, hull. The use of this hard-wearing wood as opposed to the more usual oak or larch planks means that her hull remains in excellent condition. A significant internal refit, carried out in 2005-2006, gave a high standard of accommodation aboard what is now the largest of the WYC fleet.
Ardea has been purchased by Andrew Scull, one of the Trustees of Wherry Yacht Charter, and will be hired out to generate funds for the charity.
Ardea's remarkable return to Norfolk is featured in a 2005 video report by BBC News.
A full description of Ardea's onboard accommodation and facilities will be included here in due course.