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The new Outer Harbour at Wells
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Background to the Wells Harbour Project Phase One

Michael Snow, Project Co-ordinator


The restored Harbour Office and new pontoons

Trust ports are independent statutory bodies established under Acts of Parliament. They are run by boards of trustees (commissioners) who re-invest all profits for the benefit of the harbour and its users.

There are some 600 ports around the shores of England, Scotland and Wales. Only around 90 of these now have trust status. These are predominantly small to medium sized ports, of which Wells Harbour is one. Its administration is based in the old lifeboat house on the west quay, a listed building that was in urgent need of repair.

Wells Harbour has always played a major role in the town's prosperity, being the main focus for recreation and tourism and the Commisssioners' aim is to contribute to the town's continuing well-being through growth derived from these areas. There will be increasing competition from nearby ports, at least two of which are building marinas offering up-to-the-minute amenitites for visiting vessels. However, the tranquility and natural beauty of Wells Harbour offers far more attraction to leisure boat owners, but modern facilities and accessibility are now a high priority with them.

Thus a vital factor to safeguard the harbour and the town's future was the need to improve the existing amenities and fulfil the special needs of the disabled, at the same time preserving the natural environment.

It is against this background that Ian Scott, a highly respected and public spirited resident of the town, conceived the idea of the Wells Harbour Project. With the full support of the Commissioners, and following public meetings in the town, Ian drew up the detailed business plan which subsequently secured the funding for:

  1. Restoration of the Old Lifeboat House, including:
    • Showers, toilets and laundrette with disabled access including a stairlift
    • Meeting room available for community/private sector use
    • Webcam showing live views of the harbour on our website
  2. Five floating pontoons with ramp for disabled access
  3. Sewage pumpout and water monitoring to protect the environment
  4. Inner sea wall to protect the restored building against wave surges

Work commenced late October 2004 and was completed on schedule and within budget by end May 2005. Three main contractors and numerous sub-contractors were involved in the work - many were local companies, and wherever practical local suppliers and materials were used.

The overall cost of the project was £421,000, financed by grants from:

  • East of England Development Agency
  • European Regional Development Fund - Objective 2
  • Heritage Lottery Fund
  • Norfolk County Council
  • North Norfolk District Council
  • Wells Harbour Commissioners