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The new Outer Harbour at Wells
North Norfolk Triathlon
Registration now open for 2019


The work of the
Wells Harbour Commissioners 2018


The work of the Wells Harbour Commissioners (WHC) is regulated by Central Government. Full details of the appointments and management structure can be found in the publication Good governance guidance for statutory harbour authorities operating ports in England and Wales published 5 March 2018 (see Department for Transport website). WHC aims to conform to the governance as set out by the government.

Reports of the bi-monthly meetings of the Commissioners in 2018 can be found on this website.

Annual Meetings

The Commissioners hold an annual public meeting to report on their work. In 2018 it was held on 15th May 2018. A report of that meeting is available on this website.

The date of the 2019 meeting is 14 May 2019 7pm at Wells Sailing Club.

Harbour Staff

Andrew Potts joined us in April 2018 as Harbour Assistant. Andy joins us from PETANS, one of the world's leading safety training organisations, where he held the position of Survival Training Instructor delivering a wide range of accredited courses to the oil and gas industry and also MCA maritime courses. He is also an RYA Dinghy and power boat instructor and has a power boat commercial endorsement. Andy is proving to be a great asset to the Port.

Harbour Commissioners

It should be noted, that all Commissioners are volunteers and receive no payment for their work. The revenue from the services offered by the port is used entirely to finance the port's management and development.


Denys Hickey, Nicholas Groom and Avril Lill were appointed 1st January 2018.

Kevin Theobald was appointed 1st January 2019.


Adrian Underwood retired at the end of 2018 after completing a three year term.

New Commissioner Portfolios

To enable more proactive involvement in Port Operations, Commissioners have been assigned individual specialised portfolios:

  • Andy Frary - Chairman and HR
  • Alan Bushell - Vessels and Plant
  • Mel Catton - Port Strategy
  • Robert Ellis - Health and Safety
  • Nicholas Groom - Harbour Services
  • Denys Hickey - Legal
  • Avril Lill - Environment
  • Brian Riches - Channel & buoys
  • Chris Thomson - Estates and Events

Beach Patrol

The beach patrol operated successfully for the eighth year employing four local young people for the summer season. The patrol advises the public regarding safety matters, swimming, keeping off the berms and buoys and assists with the public cut off by the tide.

Gilly Hut

For the third year, the Harbour Commissioners funded the employment of seasonal staff to man the Gilly Hut on behalf of the Wells Harbour Maritime Trust. The Gilly Hut hires out eco friendly gillying (crabbing) equipment with the aim of reducing plastics in the harbour and to help prevent wildlife entanglement from the monofilament line.

Capital Expenditure

2018 completed

  • 27 tonne Tri axle low loader
  • 35 tonne Self Propelled Slipway hoist
  • Slipway improvements
  • 2000L Diesel Highway tow bowser
  • Flood panels planning application and deposit
  • 3 x pontoons for Frank-T , diesel berth and East end slipway.
  • Introduced number plate recognition cameras at car park.
  • Crossing the bar - Tales of Wells Harbour book launched
  • Investigated Commissioner powers with regards to access to the Saltmarsh

Planned for 2019

  • Flood Panels to Harbour Office perimeter wall
  • Little Tern artificial nesting pontoon
  • Extend quayside railings to end of car parking spaces
  • Create memorial seating with anchor
  • Install sympathetic lighting on quay to reduce light pollution
  • Introduce recycling bins for harbour use
  • Maritime Trail interpretation boards
  • Pursue the possibility of a managed retreat at the East End providing future flood defences
  • Channel straightening feasibility project
  • Replace beach patrol rib
  • Website upgrade

Future expenditure under consideration

  • Create a new wooden jetty adjacent to main slipway
  • Reinstatement of wooden jetty near Shipwrights
  • Water taxi/ferry
  • Wooden jetty at Skredge
  • Archive historic documents for public viewing
  • Resurface quayside car park
  • Look at extending camera coverage throughout the Port to improve security of vessels
  • Investigate improving access for Albatros
  • Look at railings for Tug Boat Yard
  • Cycle racks for car park


The Port met with Natural England regarding the proposal to exclude access to the Salt Marshes within our harbour limits as defined in the Wells Harbour Revision Order 1994. The meeting was to obtain clarity that restricted access would not impact our rights or affect our access or the access we currently grant to others or may wish to grant in the future. Initially the harbour had not been consulted but we have been provided with assurance that it is business as usual.

Harbour staff refurbished and reinstated the old channel transits which can be seen at the west end of the beach close to the last beach hut. These transits in the shape of two triangles, one higher than the other, would have been used from the 1700s through to the mid 1900s to guide vessels into the harbour. Both would have been lit by paraffin lights and been visual from the sea, approximately one mile away . When vessels saw the two shapes dead in line, this would indicate the safe route/ entrance into the harbour from seaward. These will form part of the maritime trail.

The Port assisted with the Wells Maltings sculpture trail by installing the lifeboat horse on the marsh. Robert Smith included his own exhibit of the restored mortuary doors as part of the trail.

The Port purchased and planted 500 Marram Grass plants to stabilise the southern berm at the Outer Harbour.

The project to instate glass flood panels on the perimeter wall around the harbour office has been delayed due to planning.

The Harbour has been working with local retail owners who sell single use plastic crabbing items to see what can be done about reducing plastics in the harbour. Shop owners are coming up with ideas on a return and resell system and are working with suppliers to look at biodegradable reels. We are delighted that the shop owners have taken onboard our concerns and are thinking about alternatives. Drop nets in particular cause not only damage to wildlife through entanglement they are also a major nuisance for boat owners both leisure and commercial as they get caught around props. Please respect our beautiful harbour, we would prefer that you avoid buying single use plastics and drop nets.

A "Billy the Gilly" booklet has been designed by a local artist which will be printed for next year to provide information to the public on handling, care and general information on the shore crabs.

Natural England approached the harbour to participate in a scheme whereby bins will be provided on the quayside for the fishermen to dispose of discarded fishing gear/ghostnets they find at sea. It is part of the clean oceans project and will be trialled in Wells

Navigation and Channel

The Port was inspected by Trinity House and passed its annual inspection on buoyage and also passed its annual audit.


Tug Boat Yard was dredged during the year to provide deeper berths for those vessels berthed on the outside.

Following concerns expressed about dredging in Wells impacting mussel beds in Blakeney, sample analysis of sediment between Wells and Blakeney has been undertaken. Our marine advisors Royal Haskoning sent off the samples to H R Wallingford. The results show categorically no interaction between the two sites.

Port Safety

Health and safety inspections have been regularly undertaken and all H&S issues have been addressed. The Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC) Safety Management System (SMS) was independently audited in March 2018. The next audit will be in 2021.

Public Relations

WHMT organised the Norfolk Triathlon to raise funds for the charity. The event was held on 2nd September 2018. The 2019 event will be held on 15th September 2019.

WHC worked with Wells Lighting Committee to organise and continue the ever popular Wells Christmas Tide event. WHC transported Santa to the quay as in previous years and sponsored the purchase of one Christmas Tree.

During the year, the Harbour Master gave up his free time to present and talk to many organisations, donating any fees received to the Wells Harbour Maritime Trust.

The bi-annual newsletter The Haven for Spring and Autumn was published to further communicate with stakeholders.

In addition WHC communicates via:

  • Published Harbour Minutes
  • Published Strategy & Business Development Plan
  • Website news page
  • Harbour brochure and flyers
  • Facebook and Twitter
  • Stakeholder meetings i.e. AGM and HUAC
  • Quay magazine
  • Events

Two kayak safaris were held in 2018 to provide opportunities for stakeholders to explore the creeks and local wildlife and view the Port from a different perspective. Further safaris will be organised for 2019.

Harbour Users Advisory Committee (HUAC)

Reports of the meetings of the HUAC can be found on this website. The reports confirm that the interests represented on HUAC are pleased with the way in which the Harbour Master and his team respond to the different requirements of each of these interests.

Outer Harbour

Three to four vessels worked from the Outer Harbour supporting O&M activity at the wind farm in 2018. Other survey vessels used the Outer Harbour also. All the vessels call Wells Harbour on VHF channel 12 before departure and on arrival at the leading buoy to gain clearance for transit.

The Port dredger Kari Hege works approximately 5 days per week, weather permitting, from number 13 buoy out to the entrance maintaining the channel. Dredging notices are placed on the website to notify harbour users of where the dredger is working on a weekly basis.


The Port provides advice and assistance to Burnham Overy Trust on the management of their navigational buoys at Burnham Overy.

Harbour Website

The website is regularly updated with news, navigation updates, reports of the meetings of the Harbour Commissioners and views of the public in the Visitors' Book. The website has proven to be very popular worldwide as we can see from the comments on our visitors page and now incorporates links to Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook and Twitter

The Port has a Facebook page which can be accessed via the website. This is a public page and stakeholders do not need to have an account to view the page. Also from the website stakeholders can follow the Harbour Master on Twitter.

The Haven

The Port's bi-annual newsletter brings updates to Wells residents and other local villages.

Crossing the bar - Tales of Wells Harbour

Out now is Crossing the Bar - Tales of Wells Harbour written by Robert Smith and published by the Port. All profits from the book benefits the Wells Harbour Maritime Trust and other local charities.


The Commissioners are members of the BPA.

Staff Appraisals and Training

WHC is committed to the training of its employees to maximise their full potential with role succession at the forefront. The board feels it has a pivotal part to play in the community and is committed to the education and training of its employees and local young people and considers this vital to the success of the Port's future.

Some staff have attended training courses:

  • MCA 4/5p Refresher Course - Robert Smith & Louise De Lisle
  • PAT Testing - Robert Smith
  • Harbour Master Course - Fred Whitaker & Tristian Roberts

Port Trainee Scheme

The Port has reluctantly decided not to pursue the scheme due to being too onerous with too many obstacles to overcome.

Boat store

The boat storage and lift out facility at the East End continues to be a great asset to the Port and to stakeholders and was at full capacity in the Winter season 2018.

Slipway Trolley

The self propelled slipway hoist was delivered in June 2018 after much supplier delay. The hoist is already lifting fishing vessels for maintenance and repair.

Car Park

There has been much social media debate about the new parking enforcement regulations on the quayside car park. Wells Harbour Commissioners did announce the changes ahead of the installation of the cameras. All the Commissioners expect is for people to purchase a valid ticket at the machines, we are a business just like any other and we rely on the income from the car park to pay for the upkeep of equipment, moorings and plant that maintains our beautiful harbour. At £4.50 a day it is still the cheapest car park in town with the best view! The majority of complaints are from people stating that they have never bothered to buy a ticket when stopping for fish and chips, despite very clear signs requiring them to do so. They are outraged to now find themselves with a parking fine for not having purchased a ticket. We have never operated a 'free' car park to purchase fish and chips and it is not free after 6pm. Our charges run from 8am to midnight, however if you arrive after 6pm the charge is reduced to £1, so please remember to purchase a valid ticket at the machine.


The Albatros at present continues to be berthed at the main quay. As an historic ship operating as a licensed bar, cafe and bed and breakfast, the ship is regularly monitored by the Harbour Commissioners on the disposing of waste and is also regulated by NNDC environmental health. The future mooring position of the vessel will continue to be evaluated by the Commissioners should a more suitable mooring site become available.

Facilities Barge

The facilities barge has proved extremely popular with visiting vessel owners. WHC permit up to 25 residential boat owners to purchase a seasonal permit to use the facilities barge. In 2018 23 were taken up.

Port Charges

The board of Wells Harbour Commissioners, took the decision to increase the majority of charges and fees by 3% for 2019. Fees in 2018 had been kept at 2017 level. However In order to promote the Outer Harbour to other commercial operators, the decision was taken not to increase berthing fees for the Outer Harbour. The car park fees of &poubd;4.50 per day (£1 after 6pm) also remain the same.


The Port instructed an external consultant to assist with compliance to the new GDPR regulations. Privacy statements for staff and visitors and a data protection statement for the website have been produced.

Visiting vessels

Visiting vessels totaled 335 in 2018, up 31 from 2017. Average nights stayed remain comparable at 4 nights.

Quay Events

The Port has an Events Policy for all outside organisations and groups wishing to use the quay for events. Compliance and agreement to this policy in writing is required before an event can go ahead. There will be fees for use of the quay to commercial organisations run for profit.

The Port took part in the Battle's Over Beacons of Light on 11th November 2018 which was a 100 year commemoration of the ending of WW1. The port lit the beacon as one of over 1000 Beacons of Light which symbolised an end to the darkness of war and a return to the light of peace.

New RNLI Boathouse

The Port was consulted regarding the plans for the new RNLI boathouse required to house the new Shannon lifeboat. The new slipway will run the length of the groyne. At the time of writing a decision has still not been made on what will happen to the current lifeboat house, however if removed, a sea defence will be put in place and foundations left to protect the spit. Coastwatch have plans to extend their lookout and are looking for funding.

Wells Harbour Maritime Trust (WHMT)

From January all serving Commissioners are trustees. All profits from the North Norfolk Triathlon go to WHMT.

In 2018 WHMT funded one young person on a sailing course.

The Trust will provide grants on an individual basis:

  • For a sailing course at beginner or intermediate or advanced standard at local approved sailing schools.
  • A sail training vessel for a week's experience at sea. The Trust will make a contribution (direct to the sail training agency) of an amount of money at the discretion of the trustees.
  • On maritime courses to extend their maritime skills such as a Sea Survival course. The Trust will make a contribution (paid directly by the WHMT to the training agency) of an amount of money at the discretion of the trustees
  • On swimming courses so that young people can learn to swim or teach with confidence. The Trust will make a contribution (directly to the swim school) per applicant to cover the costs for an appropriate swimming course (number of sessions at discretion of the Trustees).

The Trust does not cover travelling or meal costs.

This is a great opportunity to learn or develop a new skill so why not apply?

Contact the Harbour Office for an application form:

The Harbour Office,
West Quay,
NR23 1AT
Phone: 01328 711646
or send us a message by e-mail

WHMT would like to thank all supporters of the Trust for their kind donations during the course of the year.

Busy visitors' pontoons
Harbour launch towing no 1 buoy
Kari Hege on the pontoons
Border Force Alert visiting the port
Beach Patrol
Frank T out at the Sheringham Shoal windfarm