CLEY ADVENT WINDOWS and
CAROLS ON THE QUAY
Last year saw village windows transformed into an advent calendar which proved so popular it is being run again this Christmas. Cley next the Sea is set to sparkle from December 1st when nine windows in the village will be decorated and illuminated between 4pm and 8pm. They will be joined the following day by another window and so on until Christmas Eve, when around 45 windows will be on show. They will then be lit up each evening until January 6.
Maps showing the window trail, organised by and raising funds for Cley Harbour, can be collected from Picnic Fayre deli, Artemis gift shop, The George and Dragon pub, the Harnser or Made in Cley, or downloaded here.
Each day’s windows will feature on social media by searching for Cley Harbour, so everyone will be able to admire them, even if they cannot see them in person. Last Christmas the event gained thousands of followers on social media across world.
Also making a re-appearance will be Carols on the Quay, near Cley Windmill on Saturday, December 18, between 5pm and 7pm. This event will include carol singing, a brass band, mulled wine and a raffle. Weather permitting, Father Christmas will arrive by boat at around 6.30pm.
Simon Read, chairman of Cley Harbour, said: “In recent years, the harbour at Cley has been brought back to life as a result of a lot of hard work by the local community with support from the parish council. More work is needed to maintain and improve the harbour, so we are running this event as a fundraiser and anyone wishing to donate can do so by finding Cley Harbour on justgiving.com or by dropping a donation through the special letterbox at Porticus in the High Street.”
“We look forward to welcoming visitors to Cley to enjoy the window trail and hope perhaps they’ll visit our fantastic shops, galleries and pubs while they’re here. Cley Advent Windows is a very special way to spread some Christmas cheer and we are so grateful to our friends and supporters in the village who have come together to create their windows – it wouldn’t happen without them."
CHALLENGE CUP RETURNS TO CLEY
One of our very sharp-eyed supporters spotted a solid silver trophy for sale on Ebay – the Challenge Cup for Cley Channel Boats, first presented in 1928. We were successful in purchasing it and now just need to come up with an annual race to present if for. It was last won in 1931; it would be interesting to find out where it has been for the last 90 years!
CHRISTMAS CAROLS ON THE QUAY
Always the best way to start Christmas! Fakenham Town Band, a big raffle, carol singing, mulled wine and bar, a BBQ and Father Christmas arriving (and leaving again) by boat! We had to abandon the gazebo roofing due to high winds, but the rain held off just at the right time and a great time was had by all.
QUAYSIDE LENGTH DOUBLED AND NOTICEBOARD INSTALLED
We made use of the big tides in the summer to hold a “socially distanced” working party to install posts that form the extended mooring, and a new noticeboard too. It took time to obtain planning permission, so was extremely gratifying and we now offer nearly twice the amount of mooring space for locals and visitors. Local joiner Richard McColl also made us the most beautiful noticeboard, which is now standing secure proudly on the quay. It’s the perfect way to share local history, and guidance and tide information, with a life ring hung on the other side for good measure..
THE INAUGURAL CLEY ADVENT WINDOWS
Thanks to the creativity of Cley residents and the extraordinary generosity of supporters, the first ever Cley Advent Windows in support of Cley Harbour was a tremendous success. 40+ windows around the village were beautifully decorated at a time when it was difficult to celebrate together. Donations made in person, online and through our Just Giving page contributed more than £4,000 to the harbour project, going a long way ro replacing funds we were unable to raise throughout 2020.
PIRATES GALORE AT CLEY HARBOUR DAY
Despite being held on a Thursday (due to very un-co-operative tides during last summer), Cley Harbour Day was once again a huge success. Approximately 500 people came along to enjoy great live music and family
entertainment, the bar and BBQ, best dressed boats, canoe racing and much more. The evening was rounded off by one of the local police boat crew, who regularly patrol the area, being made to walk the plank by the 3 year old winner of the “best dressed pirate under 12”! Anglia TV was present during the afternoon and broadcast live, and we had a good 10 minutes on About Anglia giving us some excellent publicity. Our grateful thanks to everyone who came along, those who helped both before, on and after the day, and to our sponsors “SALT” holiday cottages.
CLEY POINT SUNDAY REINSTATED
A brilliant idea of Simon Read’s – to resurrect Point Sunday! An intrepid group of 25 or so set off from Cley for Blakeney Point in a flotilla of boats on the outgoing morning tide. We took everything we’d need until we could return on the next tide: food, drink, gazebo, cricket stumps, swimming gear, etc. etc. We arrived at Pinchens Creek in the nick of time and left our boats to “dry out”, then lugged everything over the dunes to the northern beach and settled down for the day. We were blessed with perfect weather and a great time was had by all. Getting home was exciting, first reloading boats mostly sitting on the mud. Then getting back to Cley before dark and with little water proved highly entertaining! It was enormous fun and we will do it again, so get in touch if you’d like to join us next time.
CLEY HARBOUR MERCHANDISE NOW AVAILABLE
We now have a range of merchandise made exclusively in Cley for the Harbour, including aprons, peg bags, cushions, and small and large bags. The Cley Harbour logo can also be found on tee shirts, polo shirts, mugs and water bottles.
All these items are available for purchase at the main Cley Harbour events, with a smaller range permanently available from Artemis Barn, adjacent to Artemis Coffee Shop.
WORKING PARTY AT CLEY HARBOUR
Cley Harbour underwent further work this month with repairs and an extension to the slipway. A large group of volunteers helped to extend and clean the slipway, making it much easier to launch boats. Thanks in particular to all the new volunteers and please contact us via the website if you'd like to participate in future working parties.
RACHEL LOCKWOOD SELLS PICTURE TO FUND CLEY HARBOUR RESTORATION
The painting generously donated by Norfolk artist Rachel Lockwood has recently sold to raise funds for Cley Harbour. We are grateful to Rachel for this most generous donation and to Pinkfoot Gallery for displaying the picture to prospective buyers.
Rachel’s lifelong passion for nature and art has led her through numerous areas of study. She attended the Psalter Lane Art School in Sheffield, then on to Hornsey College of Art, now Middlesex University, to study scientific illustration, which included zoological and medical illustration. After a successful career painting in London, Rachel spent some time traveling and living abroad before moving to Norfolk. Her work focuses on landscape and natural habitats
CLEY HARBOUR WELCOMES LARGEST COMMERCIAL BOAT IN OVER 60 YEARS
October was a big month for the small harbour of Cley, when a crowd of over a hundred stood in the shadow of the historic Cley Windmill to welcome in “Salford", a traditional 30ft wooden boat built in nearby King’s Lynn. The first commercial vessel to enter the harbour in over 60 years, this beautiful former Welker carried a consignment of locally produced beer, sailed over from Wells, and delivered into the eager arms of staff from the Mill. Once a thriving sea-port, Cley saw cargoes of grain, malt, cloth and spices, be both exported to and imported from, Europe. Centuries of siltation and land reclamation left this beautiful North Norfolk port, for a time one of the busiest ports in the UK, almost completely un-navigable. Over four years of tireless fundraising and dredging by the Parish Council and local Community has seen the once almost clogged channel, opened up, and ready for business.
BIG INTERVIEW: CLEY HARBOUR
We had about 30 people turn up and we basically cleared the banks of the reed growth that was inundating access to the harbour. Cley Harbour was very small. Just 15ft across. That was all that was left of what was once a large harbour.
From there we started thinking about how we were going to raise funds ourselves and decided to look within the village itself and raise a pledge fund. In other words, if we get enough people to agree to give money, we’ll go back to the people that pledged it and say that we need your pennies.
That worked and raised enough to do the initial dredge along the harbour-front, down by the car park area, by Cley Mill. It also got the quay headings back into operation, stuff like that. That first dredge was done in February three years ago.
CLEY HAS A QUAY ONCE AGAIN AFTER COMMUNITY RESTORATION PROJECT
Cley has a working quay once more, which, from next month, can be used by boats of up to 20ft.
The transformation from a narrow, silted-up river to an expanse of water with a newly-installed quay heading, has been hailed as a major success story for the village.
“It’s now got a real ‘wow!’ factor - a big open space where boats can moor and turn round,” said Simon Read, Cley parish councillor and co-ordinator of the Cley Harbour volunteer parties which have been doing much of the donkey work.
CLEY OLD HARBOUR PROJECT COULD SEE BOATS SAIL INTO THE VILLAGE’S ONCE-THRIVING ANCIENT PORT
It was once one of the busiest ports in Europe, a haven for smugglers and pirates and the hub for a thriving trade which saw its grain exports outstrip even those of Norwich.
Past, Present, and Future
Cley was once one of the busiest ports in England, where grain, malt, fish, spices, coal, cloth, barley and oats were exported or imported. The many Flemish gables in the town are a reminder of trade with the Low Countries. But despite its name, Cley has not been "next the sea" since the 17th century, due to land reclamation. Some of the buildings that once lined the quay remain, notably the 18th-century Cley Windmill.
HISTORY OF CLEY HARBOUR
Cley is a former port left stranded by the receding sea. The Cley Old Harbour Restoration Project has endeavoured to return the quayside harbour to a usable port.
Cley's early seafaring days were not exactly peaceful ones. By 1317, the harbour was reported to have been "in the grip of organised gangs of pirates". In 1405 Cley seamen, including one Nicholas Steyard, boarded and captured the 'Maryenknight', which was carrying the young Price James of Scotland to France.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the village overlooked the vast Glaven River Estuary and the marshes were covered at high tide allowing boats to navigate into a harbour close to Cley Church and also up as far as Glandford; as such, Cley was the main port for Holt.
In 1637 a local landowner, Sir Henry Calthorpe, embarked without consultation upon an ambitious reclamation scheme which involved putting a dam across the river Glaven and enclosing the marshes. It was to have far reaching effects. Although the bank was demolished after two petitions to the king, the damage had been done - the river course had already begun to silt up, effectively putting the wharves below Cley church out of action for good.
In 1649, a series of banks were built to protect the village from flooding but for several historical reasons, the river started to silt up forming an area of outstanding natural beauty and interest.
The village continued to trade, increasingly with the Low Countries (there are many Flemish gables as you walk around the village). However, as the river continued to silt up, international trade declined and coastal trade increased - Cley was a major outlet for the farm produce of north Norfolk. Its success as a grain exporting port led to great resentment in Norwich and the City Fathers even made a complaint to the Privy Council, requesting that its licence to export corn be revoked (it wasn’t).
The quay was a busy place until the late 1800s, but the rot had set in. An ever-shallowing river, a new coast road and the coming of the railway to Holt in 1884 all contributed to Cley’s demise as a port.
Traces of the old quay remain along the narrow Cley Channel, dominated by a fabulous windmill dating from 1713 which is now a guesthouse.
The Customs House closed in 1853 and the inexorable silting of the channel meant that generally cargoes destined for Cley had to be transhipped into lighters out in the Pit and then wanted or towed up to Cley. Even that had ceased by WWI . Since then it has been pleasure boats only.
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