Registration number 43
Status National Historic Fleet

Previous names

  • 1947 - 1969 Watchmoor


Function Fishing Vessel
Subfunction Drifter
Location Great Yarmouth
Current use Commercial Activity
Available to hire Yes
Available for excursions Yes


Builder Kings Lynn Slipway Company, Kings Lynn.
Built in 1930
Hull material Steel
Rig None
Number of decks 1
Propulsion Steam
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Steam triple expansion
Boiler type Scotch Return Tube
Boilermaker Stockton Chemical Engineers and Riley Boilers Ltd
Boiler year 1961
Boiler fuel coal


Breadth: Beam
20.49 feet (6.25m)
10.60 feet (3.23m)
Length: Overall
94.95 feet (28.96m)
Tonnage: Gross


LYDIA EVA was the last vessel built by Hutchinson King’s Lynn Slipway Company at a yard where a pea-canning factory now stands. She was ordered by Harry Eastick, member of the Gorleston-on-Sea family which has owned and sailed drifters for over 120 years. At her launching she was given the name of his daughter. She was larger than most of the drifters, and intended to be fast and to carry half as many nets again as other craft. Her size also allowed a trawl winch to be fitted forward of the wheelhouse so that she could change from drifting to trawling in 48 hours.

She was originally built to fish off the Norwegian deep water grounds, but on completion the owner changed his mind. 60 tons of iron ballast were added – 30 tons under the aft cabin and 30 tons forward. Gallows were fitted on all four quarters, but the forward pair was removed at a later date when the craft was re-employed as a drift netter. She operated as a drifter from 1930 to 1942.

LYDIA EVA’s first voyage was to Castlebay in July 1930, landing her catch at Oban. She operated there for seven weeks, making her owner £3,000. Before the winter, she returned to Yarmouth and continued to fish for eight years before the great slump. She was requisitioned by the Admiralty on 10 December 1942 and became a mooring depot for the Air Ministry's Bombing and Gunnery School at Abersoch in Anglesey. From there, she moved to Ilfracombe and in 1945, went to Maryport in Cumberland for two years, before going on to Weymouth.

In 1952, she returned to Cumbria and was based at Whitehaven where she stayed until 1960. Her last duty was with the Marine Services Division of the Royal Navy of Pembroke Dock in South Wales. In 1968, her disposal was approved and she was fully de-equipped. She was advertised for sale and sold out of service in 1969 to Turner & Hickman Ltd, Cayman Islands. In 1972, she was acquired by the Maritime Trust for preservation, restored, and opened to the public at Yarmouth between 1970 and 1978, and subsequently in London.

In 1995, the Lydia Eva & Mincarlo Trust bought LYDIA EVA for one pound and restored her. She was moved to East Anglia for display. A Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £839,000 was awarded to LYDIA EVA in March 2007 and local shipyard Small & Co hauled the boat out, beginning to strip the hull back to bare metal to enable a detailed survey. The Trust anticipated that 60% of the hull's steel plates would need to be replaced before LYDIA EVA could be relaunched in summer 2007. The HLF grant and money subsequently raised by the Trust totalled nearly £1.2 million, with the Trust still needing to raise another £100,000 for renewal of rigging, as well as restoration of the wheelhouse and crew quarters.

2022 update: Lydia Eva will be steaming again throughout the 2022 season, from 30th April - 26th September. See the website for dates and to book. 

Key dates

  • 1930

    Vessel built by Hutchinson of King’s Lynn Slipway Company, King’s Lynn, Norfolk

  • 1930-1938

    Operated as a herring drifter

  • 1942-1947

    Requisitioned by Ministry of War Transport but kept under contract to the RAF

  • 1947

    Transferred to the ownership of the Air Ministry, renamed WATCHMOOR

  • 1952-1964

    Engaged on salvage work for the RAF around the coast

  • 1966

    Transferred to the Marine Services Division of the Royal Navy based at Pembroke Dock in South Wales

  • 1966-1969

    Fitted with a higher wheelhouse and new boiler in Newcastle

  • 1971

    Acquired by the Maritime Trust

  • 1972

    Vessel left Penzance under her own steam to return to Great Yarmouth

  • 1973

    Vessel re-converted into a drifter again and opened to visitors at her South Quay berth, Great Yarmouth

  • 1978

    Left Yarmouth to berth at St Katherine Docks, London, as part of Historic Ships Collection

  • 1990

    The LYDIA EVA Charitable Trust Ltd acquired her on long term charter from her owners and she returned once again to Yarmouth harbour

  • 1995

    The LYDIA EVA & MINCARLO Trust bought the vessel and restored her.  She was moved to East Anglia for display

  • 2007

    A Heritage Lottery Fund grant was awarded to strip the hull’s steel plates for replacement

  • 2010

    Vessel celebrates her 80th birthday

  • 2011

    Vessel granted Small Commercial Vessel (SCV) status

  • 2012

    Vessel was docked to have her base cleaned and anti-fouling material applied to the hull.  She's due for a boiler inspection and a repainting of the decks this year and will return to Lowestoft for routine maintenance over the winter months.


  • 2006-2007

    A grant was awarded to the Trust for £20,000 by the PRISM Fund

  • December 2011

    LYDIA EVA has been granted Small Commercial Vessel (SCV) status, making her possibly the oldest vessel ever to hold such a certificate. A visit to dry dock showed that the hull was in sound condition, even though coated with a layer of barnacles <stro

  • 2007

    A Sustainability Grant of £216 from the Strategic Development Fund was awarded to the Lydia Eva Trust by National Historic Ships to enable attendance at the RINA conference

  • 2005-2006

    The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £870,800 for the restoration project


Brouwer, Norman J, International Register of Historic Ships, Anthony Nelson, pp160, Edition 2, 1993 
Sullivan, Dick, Old Ships, Boats and Maritime Museums, Coracle Books, 1978
Steamboat Register: An illustrated Register of surviving steam vessels in the British Isles, Steam Boat Association of Great Britain, Edition 6, May 1994
Classic Boat: Lydia Eva nets HLF award, October 2005
Classic Boat: Ahead for Steam, July 2012
Ships Monthly: Ships Preserved: No 8 Lydia Eva, July 1975 

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