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The work of the
Wells Harbour Commissioners 2017


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 Government legislation Modernising Trust Ports - A Guide to Good Governance, last update 2009 (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 2017 can be found on this website.

Annual Meetings

The Commissioners hold an annual public meeting to report on their work. In 2017 it was held on 16th May 2017. A report of that meeting is available on this website.

The date of the 2018 meeting is 15 May 2018 7pm at Wells Sailing Club. The Commissioners hope that the change of venue back to the Sailing Club will encourage an increase in stakeholder attendance.

Harbour Staff

A new dredging skipper was appointed in September 2017, Tristian Roberts, who previously worked as a deckhand and temporary skipper for a local fishing vessel. Tristian comes from Walsingham.

The decision on the recruitment of a Harbour Assistant has been deferred to early 2018.

The Port took on a young person for work experience for one week during the summer. The Port has already agreed a placement for 2018.

The quay cleaner Terry Corbishly left in January 2017 due to health reasons following many years of service. Sadly Terry passed away on the 4th December 2017. All the Harbour Commissioners and staff miss seeing Terry on the quay and are thankful for his hard work and dedication. We send our deepest condolences to his family. Replacing Terry is Adam Birnie, who has already made himself a familiar face and is carrying out his duties diligently.

Deputy Harbour Master Simon Blakeley left in October 2017 following six years of service to the Port, the staff and Commissioners wish him success with his own business venture. Mick Frary, Deputy Harbour Master, also left during the year.

The Port trainee position has been deferred to 2018.

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. Retirements Joan Price retired as Chair and from the Harbour Commissioners in December 2017. Duncan Vaughan resigned at the end of December 2017 due to work commitments. Paula Baldry completed her six years of service and retired from position in December 2017. The Commissioners and staff thank them for their years of service and valued insight. New Commissioner Portfolios Andy Frary was appointed as new Chair of the Commissioners effective January 2018. Bob Ellis will take over responsibility of health and safety.


Chris Thomson and Brian Riches were appointed effective 1st January 2017

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


Joan Price retired as Chair and from the Harbour Commissioners in December 2017.

Duncan Vaughan resigned at the end of December 2017 due to work commitments.

Paula Baldry completed her six years of service and retired from position in December 2017.

The Commissioners and staff thank them for their years of service and valued insight.

New Commissioner Portfolios

Andy Frary was appointed as new Chair of the Commissioners effective January 2018. Bob Ellis will take over responsibility of health and safety.

Beach Patrol

The beach patrol operated successfully for the seventh year employing five 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

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 in the form of a steel bucket and wooden reel with the aim of reducing plastics in the harbour and to help prevent wildlife entanglement from the nylon line used on the plastic reels which are sold in local retail outlets. In 2017 the Port introduced a plastic bucket recycling scheme.

Capital Expenditure

2017 completed

  • Second harbour pickup
  • East end Repair Store
  • Power to Tug Boat Yard pontoons
  • Talus Tractor purchased
  • Deposit on slipway hoist
  • Completion of board room and refurbishment of second floor of harbour office
  • Land at south of boat yard leased and cleared to increase boat store facilities
  • Motorcycle area permanent posts installed
  • Temporary repairs to main slipway
  • Live stream camera installed which replaced fixed cameras. The live feed has proved very popular with visitors to our website
  • New gates to visiting pontoons installed providing coded access at night. These provide security to visitors on our pontoons preventing access from the general public after some complaints received of anti social behaviour
  • New car park machine to take card payments
  • Outside cupboard for the defribillator to allow public access after the office is closed

Planned for 2017

  • Floating pontoons at East End for slipway hoist services
  • Flood panels for the outside of the Harbour Office
  • New pontoon for diesel berth on quay and for the Frank-T
  • New quayside lighting
  • Continue with feasibility for channel straightening project
  • Continue investigating habitat creation using dredged material for beneficial use
  • Resurface quayside car park
  • Create a new wooden jetty adjacent to main slipway
  • Production of Port book on history of harbour

Future expenditure under consideration

  • Reinstatement of wooden jetty near Shipwrights
  • Water taxi/ferry
  • Wooden jetty at Skredge
  • Archive of historic documents for public viewing


The Port continued the Gilly patrol in 2017 to educate families regarding gilly welfare whilst still enjoying the activity.

A plastic bucket recycling initiative was introduced to reduce single use buckets ending up in landfill.

Investigations continued into creating marine habitats such as the reinstatement of Tern Islands swept away in the December 2013 tidal surge. WHC are not permitted to deepen Bob Hall Sands for recreational sailing and use that material to create an island, however are able to beneficially use dredged material from maintenance dredging of the channel and Outer Harbour.

Natural England held a meeting at the Port for regional managers. Robert Smith presented on the practicalities of a working port and gave a tour of the harbour.

Navigation and Channel

The Port was inspected by Trinity House and passed its annual inspection on buoyage and also passed its annual audit. Following the navigational aids audit, two buoys were replaced.


Licensed maintenance dredging continued in 2017 which maintains the channel to a depth of 1m low water neap tides for navigational safety of vessels and maintains access to and the depth at the Outer Harbour. These dredging activities ensure the Port remains fit for purpose. Replenishment of the Outer Harbour berm on the east and south sides will be carried out in January 2018. Dredging of Tug Boat Yard pontoons will be carried out in Spring 2018.


Harbour Staff continue to maintain the Fore & Aft/swinging moorings within the harbour by lifting and checking the sinkers and chains and reorganising and realigning the moorings.

Following channel movement moorings were relaid which are considered emergency works under the Harbour Revision Order. Some moorings, no longer in use, have been removed at Buxtons Bight to improve and create more sailing area.

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 2015. The next audit will be in 2018.

Public Relations

WHMT organised the 10th Norfolk Triathlon to raise funds for the charity. The event was held on 10th September 2017. The 2018 event will be held on September 2nd 2018.

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 and also funded the works required for a third 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 2017 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 2018.

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 2017. 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 this 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.

The Harbour Master was consulted on the Destination Management Plan produced by the Wells Coastal Communities Team (WCCT).

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.


Harbour Master, Robert Smith MBE, represents small Ports in the East Coast region on the council of the UKHMA.


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:

  • Simon Blakeley took the Harbour Master's diploma in February 2017.
  • Fred Whittaker passed a Glass Reinforced Plastics course
  • Bob Hull passed a Health and Safety Environment Test

HR consultants

The Port changed HR Consultants during the course of the year and updated all employee contracts.

Port Trainee Scheme

The establishment of this scheme has been postponed to 2018. This will be the first of its type at the Port and will aim to provide opportunities for skills development in Port operations. There is potential for a full time job at the end of the training period, although is not guaranteed.

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 2017. The Port leased additional land to the South of the current boat store to provide more light to boats stored at the southern border and extra space.

The boat and buoy shed in the compound has proved invaluable for storage purposes.

The Port commenced the provision of marine repairs in 2017 providing an additional revenue stream.

Slipway Trolley

WHC received EMFF funding for a self propelled slipway hoist to replace the slipway trolley. The delivery of this project has been postponed due to circumstances beyond the control of Wells Harbour Commissioners and it is now expected to arrive mid March 2018.

Car Park

A new car park machine was installed which permits payment by card. This will be trialled before a decision is made to replace the second 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. Following the tidal surge in January 2017, although the tide did not make as expected, the vessel's anchors were tested and worked well keeping the vessel away from the quay wall.

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 2017 x11 were taken up.

Port Charges

The board of Wells Harbour Commissioners, after reviewing the Port's reserves, took the decision to freeze charges and fees for 2018. Therefore 2018 fees will remain at 2017 level. We hope that stakeholders will appreciate this gesture but of course cannot be guaranteed in future years.

Visiting vessels

Visiting vessels totalled 304 in 2017, down 14 from 2016. Average nights stayed remain comparable at 4 nights.

Quay Events

The Port has issued a new 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.

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 replace their lookout and are looking for funding.

Beach Road Development

The Port was consulted as a statutory consultee regarding the plans for developing the toilet block on Beach Road. WHC's response is that we would have concerns should the Beach Road site be over developed, would like to think that NNDC in their decision making should be sympathetic to the surrounding harbour and that any potential development would be in keeping and of suitable size so as not to dominate the area. The main concerns highlighted were:

  • WHC are of the opinion that three storeys could have an impact on the visual amenity of the harbour and possibly a two storey building would be more in keeping.
  • WHC would liked to see improved WC provision at the site or very close by in any future proposed plans.
  • WHC feel a restaurant of the proposed size could adversely impact local small independent catering businesses particularly out of peak season.
  • WHC do have concerns regarding congestion at the top of Beach Road with any new proposed development in this area. Congestion at this point has proven to cause backup and traffic problems further into the town.

Wells Harbour Maritime Trust (WHMT)

In 2017 WHMT funded one young person in a swim teaching course and one in a sailing course. Three sea cadets were funded for a sailing experience at sea.

The Trust organised the North Norfolk Triathlon for the third time which proved to be a huge success raising money for the Trust.

From January 2018 all serving Commissioners will become Trustees.

WHMT would like to thank all supporters of the Trust for their kind donations during the course of the year. WHC donated the surplus made from the Gilly Hut to the Trust.

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