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The work of the
Wells Harbour Commissioners 2016



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 2016. All these reports can be found on this website.

Annual Meetings

The Commissioners hold an annual public meeting to report on their work. In 2016 it was held on 3rd May 2016. A report of that meeting is available on this website. The date of the 2017 meeting is 16th May 2017 7pm at Wells Community Hospital.

Harbour Staff

There were no full-time staff appointments during 2016.

A seasonal vacancy was created to man the Gilly Hut.

There were no staff leavers during 2016. A reorganisation replaced a contractor with an existing staff member.

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.


Bob Laucht, Adrian Underwood and Duncan Vaughan were appointed effective 1st January 2016. Chris Thomson and Brian Riches were appointed effective 1st January 2017.


Bob Laucht resigned as a Commissioner in May 2016 after a short tenure as he felt the Commissioners were not for him.

Gary Anthony retired Dec 2016 completing six years of service. Wells Harbour Commissioners thank him for all the work and input he has provided during his tenure and wish him well.

New Commissioner Portfolios

Joan Price took over as Chairman of the Harbour Users Advisory Committee in 2016.

Duncan Vaughan was elected as new Vice Chair of the Commissioners effective 26th July 2016.

Beach Patrol

The beach patrol operated successfully for the sixth 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

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 received a grant from the Norfolk Community Foundation (Sheringham Shoal Community Fund) to purchase the hut which 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. The Gilly hut was a huge success and highlights environmental awareness to visitors to the Port.

Capital Expenditure

2016 completed

  • Replacement Harbour Pickup
  • Completion of Facilities Barge incorporating showers and heads for visiting boats
  • 2nd phase of redesign of car park - motor bike area moved to far East End, and leisure seating installed at new amenity area
  • Car park lines redrawn and gates installed at entrance and exit
  • Strip out of upstairs of Harbour Office and creation of new boardroom
  • Diversified Port activities to include boat repairs and engineering
  • New building for boat repairs at East End
  • Gilly Hut introduced to provide an alternative to plastic gillying items by hiring eco friendly buckets and reels to reduce plastic waste
  • MMO maintenance dredge licence renewed for five years
  • Installation of new floating pontoons at Tug Boat Yard
  • Replaced two buoys following Trinity House audit
  • Harbour Office painted outside
  • New 21ft GRP Tidemaster boat purchased for possible use as a water taxi or an investment
  • New signage installed at slipways

Planned for 2017

  • Investigate replacement to slipway trolley
  • Investigate creation of habitats i.e. Tern Island
  • Feasibility for channel straightening project
  • Develop boat repairs and engineering
  • Expand boatyard
  • Investigate installation of flood panels on Harbour Office perimeter wall (replacement of Harbour Office extension project)
  • Extension of quayside railings to end of car parking spaces
  • Maritime Trail interpretation boards
  • Slipway repairs
  • Explore possibility of increasing visiting pontoons
  • Consider potential property investment opportunities either by purchase or rent
  • Investigate methods to protect the salt marsh from further erosion and take reasonable steps
  • Strive to enable our conservancy and dredging operations to be brought completely in-house by purchasing required machinery e.g. Tallus Tractor
  • Install sympathetic lighting on quay to reduce light pollution
  • Look at extending camera coverage throughout the Port to improve security of vessels
  • Fill remaining mooring ring holes in car park
  • Construction of storage shed in boat compound for boat repairs
  • Improvement to East End slipway

Future expenditure under consideration

  • Resurface quayside and car park
  • Increase visiting pontoons
  • Reinstatement of wooden jetty near Shipwrights
  • Investigate creation of new habitats using dredged material for beneficial use
  • Water taxi/ferry
  • Pontoon for safer access to Albatros
  • Wooden jetty at Skredge
  • Archive of historic documents for public viewing
  • Production of Harbour History book


The Port continued the Gilly patrol in 2016 to educate families regarding gilly welfare whilst still enjoying the activity. The Gilly Hut was introduced to hire environmentally friendly alternatives to plastic gillying items. The hut has educational material advising the public on plastic pollution and marine life entanglement.

Investigations began into creating marine habitats such as the reinstatement of Tern Island swept away in the December 2013 tidal surge.

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.


Licenced maintenance dredging continued in 2016 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. A new maintenance dredging licence was approved by the MMO for five years replacing the previous three year licence that expired.

Dams and Creeks

Refurbishment of some of the dams, first erected in the 1700s, continued. These works have proven to be very beneficial in the tidal flow arriving approximately 15-20 mins earlier at the quayside on the flood and a lot greater ebb remaining in the quayside at low water. It has also helped with the scouring effect on the channel. By carrying out these works over the last couple of years it has replenished and protected the marsh and also in some areas has created new marsh.

New Vessel

A 21ft GRP Tidemaster was purchased for possible use as a water taxi or possible investment.


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.

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 9th Norfolk Triathlon to raise funds for the charity. The event was held on 4th September 2016. The 2017 event will be held on September 10th 2017.

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.

Harbour Master Robert Smith MBE continues to contribute to the Blue New Deal initiative in London. The Blue New Deal aims to deliver stronger economies for UK coastal communities, supporting more and better jobs through a healthier marine and coastal environment by innovative and sustainable approaches.

The facilities barge was opened for public viewing prior to its opening for visitors. Stakeholders had the opportunity to view the facility as well as meet with Commissioners.

A new flyer was produced geared towards encouraging visitors from European marinas to the Port.

The Port placed an entry into Sail the Wash information booklet giving details about visiting the Port.

A new bi-annual newsletter was produced The Haven for Spring and Autumn publication 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

Three kayak safaris were held in 2016 to provide opportunities for stakeholders to explore the creeks and local wildlife and view the Port from a different perspective.

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. There was a suggestion from a group representative to change the format of the meeting in that the various stakeholder groups would run the meeting themselves and invite WHC as a guest. Following a discussion at the HUAC meeting and a vote it was unanimous to keep the format as it is with WHC organising and facilitating the meeting.

WHC agreed to acknowledge recreational boating in the SBDP with the following wording: WHC acknowledges the importance of recreational boating area in Wells Harbour and will make their best endeavours to maintain a recreational boating area in the Harbour for these activities in the foreseeable future.

Outer Harbour

3-5 vessels worked from the Outer Harbour supporting O&M activity at the wind farm in 2016. 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 WHC responsibilities are many and a key one is to maintain Wells harbour as a working port, a WHC responsibility since 1663. The executive, with approval from the Commissioners, continue to promote the Port of Wells and the Outer Harbour to other wind farm developers in the region.

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.

Harbour Office Extension

A project which started in 2015 to look at extending the Harbour Office at first floor level to protect the Office against future potential flooding has been shelved in favour of installing flood panels similar to the environment agency glass panels to the Harbour Office perimeter wall. This project is still under investigation at the time of writing.


The Port of Wells is categorised as an A&B Port with Braemer Howells contracted as the Tier 2 responder. A new OPRC Oil Spill Contingency Plan was approved by the MCA in 2016.

Hydrosphere chartered the Frank-T to lift three buoys off Weybourne.

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

Louise De Lisle now sits on the Norfolk Community Foundation (Sheringham Shoal Community Fund) which provides grants to North Norfolk community groups seeking financial assistance for projects or initiatives that meet key criteria and focus on renewable energy, marine environment and safety, sustainability or education in these areas.

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 introduced a bi-annual newsletter in 2016 bringing 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:

  • Robert Smith MBE attended a dredging management course
  • Robert Smith MBE and Simon Blakeley attended a conference on habitat creation
  • Graham Riseborough attended CPC training

Simon Blakeley will take the Harbour Master's diploma in February 2017.

Apprenticeship Scheme

WHC announced the intention to establish an apprenticeship scheme and will develop this in 2017. This will be the first of its type at the Port and will aim to provide opportunities for skill development in various aspects of Port operations with a potential job opportunity at the end of the apprenticeship, although this cannot be 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 2016. The Port is investigating leasing additional land to the South of the current boat store and has cleared the land in 2016 to provide more light to boats stored at the southern border.

The boat and buoy shed in the compound has proved invaluable for storage purposes. The Port commenced the provision of marine repairs and engineering in 2016 and this will be progressed in 2017 providing an additional revenue stream.

Slipway Trolley

WHC has received EMFF funding approval for a self propelled slipway hoist to replace the slipway trolley.

Car Park

WHC redesigned the car park in 2016 to improve the flow of traffic entering and exiting the car park. A decision made to remove the motorcycle parking at the pinch point of the car park for safety reasons where pedestrians walk and gillying activities occur has been a success and following public concern about the removal of motorbike parking an area has been created to the east end of the car park.


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

WHC permit up to 25 residential boat owners to purchase a seasonal permit to use the facilities barge. In 2016 10 were taken up.

Port Charges

There was a small increase to the majority of 2017 Port charges. In order to promote the Outer Harbour to other commercial operators, the decision was taken not to increase berthing fees for the Outer Harbour.

Visiting vessels

Visiting vessels totalled 315 in 2016, down 12 from 2015. Average nights stayed remain comparable at 4 nights.

Wells Harbour Maritime Trust (WHMT)

Students from Wells Primary took part in a Fun on the Water day in 2016. In 2016 WHMT funded young people in group sailing courses from Langham School, Alderman Peel High School and Burnham Market Primary School and four individuals were given funds to complete RYA sailing courses.

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

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


Staff on the completed facilities barge
Harbour launch refitted
Kari Hege on the pontoons
Full house at the quay
Beach Patrol
Frank T out at the Sheringham Shoal windfarm