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The work of the
Wells Harbour Commissioners 2011



The work of the Wells Harbour Commissioners (WHC) is regulated by central government and 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). The WHC aim to conform to the governance as set out by the government.

The following information was distilled from the reports of the bi-monthly meetings of the Commissioners in 2011. All these reports can be found on this website.

Annual Meetings

The Commissioners hold an annual public meeting to report on their work. In 2011 it was held on 6 May. A report of that meeting is available on this website. The date of the 2012 meeting is 18 May.


It should be noted, perhaps to disabuse one of the myths about the Commissioners' work, 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.


Matthew Somerton was promoted from Harbour Assistant to Assistant Harbour Master in April 2011 and is in the process of gaining relevant qualifications to further his career.

Simon Blakeley was appointed Port Logistics Officer in May 2011. Simon is responsible for overseeing the dredging operation as well as logistics for the Frank-T. This is a new position to support the Harbour Master.

Rhiannon Boyd-Stevenson and Catherine Ward were appointed as part-time office administration assistants in April 2011, supporting the Harbour Administrator. Rhiannon was a direct replacement for Liz Blake. Catherine's role is a new position to assist with the additional administration for the Outer Harbour.

The feeder vessel Frank-T is manned by Wells Marine Services with Tony Ford as skipper and Chas Major as crew. The feeder vessel loads supplies from the quayside daily and delivers to vessels at the Outer Harbour.

Graham Riseborough from Wells was appointed as maintenance and truck driver in April 2011. He is responsible for the collection of supplies and equipment from the Limeworks for delivery to the quayside as well as general maintenance in and around the harbour.


Liz Blake retired in May 2011. She had given 12 years dedicated service to the work of the harbour and the Wells Harbour Commissioners. Liz was always a friendly face at the harbour welcoming visitors and looking after the rest of the team with her tea and cake making. The WHC and the harbour staff wish her a long and happy retirement.

Harbour Commissioners

Alistair Kerr resigned as a Commissioner in March 2011. Adrian Underwood retired as a Commissioner in December 2011 after five years' service.

New Commissioner Portfolios

Gary Anthony: Waterside Harbour Services

Joan Price: Public Relations

Patrick Weston: Shoreside Harbour Services

New Commissioners 2012

Charlie Ward, James Heasman and Paula Baldry were appointed Harbour Commissioners from 1st January 2012.

Beach Patrol

In early summer 2011, Wells Harbour Commissioners advertised for and successfully recruited a seasonal beach patrol. This was a new initiative which employed a team of five local people to patrol the beach providing safety advice to beach users, swimmers and all water based activities. The patrol worked closely in conjunction with the Harbour staff and Coastwatch and operated in teams of two around the tides. Although not acting as lifeguards, the patrol worked in an advisory capacity and was on hand to assist in any incidents within the Harbour if needed. The Harbour consulted the coxswain of Wells RNLI, vthe Beach Manager and Holkham Estate on the best operating procedure.

An ex-HM coastguard 4.8 meter Ribtech with a 60hp 4-stroke engine was specifically purchased for the service. Initially it was thought that the patrol would operate for the 2011 summer season only but its success prompted the Harbour Commissioners to consider continuing it in 2012 during seasonal peaks which was approved. The patrol will recommence in Easter 2012.

Capital Expenditure

Completed in 2011:

  • The feeder vessel, Frank-T officially named
  • A 4.8 metre RIB with a 60hp 4-stroke engine purchased
  • A Ford pick-up for use by harbour staff purchased
  • Showers for visiting boat crews increased and upgraded
  • Resurfacing of the Fishermen's quay near the granary
  • Harbour Office (outside) repainted
  • Additional mooring bollards installed for main quay, replacing mooring chains
  • Two new channel buoys installed
  • Oil spill equipment including 100 meters of inflatable boom

Planned for 2012

  • New East End store
  • East End bar buoy
  • Wash down facility at the East End
  • Refurbishment of some of the quayside

Future expenditure under consideration

  • Boat travel hoist
  • Upgrade of electricity to inner harbour pontoons
  • New quay for the Albatros

Environment and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)

  • Little Terns and other birds breeding in the harbour have been surveyed - see report on this website
  • The MMO is preparing a 'Marine Plan' for each area around England. Although this does not directly affect the area under control of WHC, it will affect the interests and potentially the activities of fishermen and others using the harbour. The discussion at the AONB Coastal Partnership in July 2011 was part of the consultation on development of these plans. The plans will provide a framework which will include Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). 'Netgain' is the project established to work with stakeholders to identify and recommend MCZs in the North Sea. Reference Areas (RAs) are small areas to be set aside from fishing or other exploitation to create baselines (ie to be allowed to develop naturally). MCZs are larger areas having some restrictions on fishing but are not complete non-fishing areas. Opposition from fishermen to some of the designated areas is expected, particularly as fishing has intensified in these areas. The Commissioners are unanimous in their commitment to stand up for local fishing rights.

Marine Management Organisation (MMO)

A team from the marine planning division of the MMO visited the port in May 2011 and were impressed with the relationship between the commercial and leisure stakeholders and wished to use Wells as a 'model port' for seminars in the future showing how commercial and leisure activities can exist together.

Navigation and Channel

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

Trinity House sanctioned the use of two red can buoys which were laid in the access channel to the Outer Harbour east of the Lifeboat Station. Both buoys are lit with a red flashing light twice every five seconds. These buoys are to only be used for vessels accessing the Outer Harbour. The buoys have been placed to the south of the entrance so as to be concealed from the main channel when entering or departing the port. A new port hand buoy will be placed at Pool Ridge to assist vessels on transit to the quayside.

The harbour charts were updated and are available on the harbour website and from the Harbour Office.

Port Safety

Health and safety inspections have been regularly undertaken and all H&S issues have been addressed.

Public Relations

It has been agreed that WHC will provide a beacon for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee commemoration in 2012. This will be one of at least 2012 beacons to be lit across the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and every Commonwealth country on Monday 4 June 2012. The beacon will be situated on the marshes opposite the quay and is currently being fabricated by a local blacksmith.

Wells Harbour Maritime Trust (WHMT)

The WHMT was officially launched in the summer of 2011.

Harbour Users Advisory Committee (HUAC)

Reports of the meetings of the HUAC can be found on the harbour 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.

The British Sharpie Championships were a success. Wells Sailing Club (WSC) thanked the Harbour Master for rearranging moorings to assist the course. In the event, an Olympic course was set in the harbour and was successful.

Outer Harbour Development

The Outer Harbour proved to be busier in 2011 than expected with approximately 17 vessels working daily out to the wind farm. 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 five days a week from number 13 buoy out to the entrance maintaining the channel. The area of most intensity from dredging activity is found to be from number 6 buoy to number 2. The rest of the channel seems to be a lot more stable and does not require the same amount of maintenance.

Towards the end of 2012 the high level of activity from vessels at the Outer Harbour should significantly reduce as the Sheringham Shoal nears completion.

Boosting the Local Economy

Wells Harbour's positive response to the Sheringham Shoal wind farm development has contributed to the increase in new employment in the area.

To meet the new responsibilities of the harbour in relation to the wind farm development, the harbour staff has been increased by six new full-time posts and one new part-time post. The full-time posts are: a Harbour Administrator, an Assistant Harbour Master, a Harbour Logistics Supervisor, two staff to manage the harbour support vessel Frank-T and a truck driver. The part-time post is an additional harbour office assistant. These seven new posts have all been filled by people from the immediate Wells area or from the wider area of Norfolk.

In addition, current figures for new employment in the area show the following: 13 new local posts for Scira, 30 new local posts for Siemens UK, four new local posts for Elite Travel and 11 new local posts for Safety Boat Services. This is a total of 65 new posts which have been filled mainly by staff recruited from Norfolk.

In addition, the refurbishment of the Wells Field Study Centre employed eight staff and, of course, secondary employment is increasing through local businesses such as hotels, B&Bs, restaurants and retail outlets.


Dams and Creeks

Refurbishment of some of the dams, first erected in the 1700s, continues and has proven to be very beneficial - the tidal flow arrives earlier at the quayside and also helps with the scouring effect on the channel.

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.

Port Marine Safety Code

During 2011 the Port Marine Safety Code was reviewed and updated. There is a reciprocal arrangement with Brightlingsea Harbour Commissioners to act as a designated person, whose role is to provide an independent assurance to the Duty Holder (the board) that the safety management system is working effectively. The first meeting in this regard took place in November 2011.

Quay Facilities

The WHC's responsibilities are many and a key one is to maintain Wells harbour as a working port, a WHC responsibility since 1663. This is why the WHC have been exercised about the amount of quay space taken up by the Albatros which, on occasions, prevents the Harbour Master from accommodating working boats.

Staff Appraisals and Training

The WHC have undertaken regular appraisals of staff during the year. Some staff have attended training courses: The Harbour Master has attended a four day 5p Executive Commander Course Oil Response (Ports) in Gatwick which was a requirement of the MCA. The Harbour Administrator, Assistant Harbour Master and the Port Logistics Supervisor attended a one day 2p Oil Spill Course in Brightlingsea. The Harbour Administrator and Assistant Harbour Master completed their VHF radio course.

VHF Listening watch

A rota has been established to provide a listening watch between the hours of 7am and 10pm.


Equipment has been installed at the harbour office which provides AIS (Automated Identification System) on all vessels equipped with AIS off the North Norfolk coast and in the southern North Sea. As well as being able to track these vessels the port can also track the vessels operating on the Sheringham Shoal wind farm while transiting to and from the port. In addition new CCTV has been installed which provides images from the Outer Harbour out to the channel entrance and an additional camera showing images of the Inner Harbour and quayside. The live screens also have the capability to provide live wind and wave speed and tidal information which is a benefit to all harbour users who wish to access the information.

Boat store

The boat storage and lift out facility at the East End is not only a great asset to the port but also to stakeholders as it has proven to very popular. It is at full capacity in the winter season.

Fishing shed

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) and WHC are in the process of transferring ownership of the fishing facility to the Harbour Commissioners. Upon completion this will be leased to the Wells Fishermen's Co-operative at a peppercorn rent. The facility was used on a regular basis in 2011 by the fishermen for the sorting and storage of shellfish and also for storing their frozen bait. More importantly this facility gives the fishermen a base to conduct their businesses and provides them with a more saleable product.


The Albatros at present continues to be berthed at the main quay and is very popular with visitors to the port and town. 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. There are plans in the future to provide a new mooring location for the vessel north of the Harbour Office which will provide a quay for the benefit of the public. A public consultation will take place during 2012.

Beach Patrol
Full house at the quay
Sunrise over the quay