Postcards from the Norfolk 

Welcome to “Postcards from the Norfolk Broads”. This website is intended to take you on a tour through time on the Broads, which is illustrated by old and very old postcards from my, ever growing, collection. Broadland is a very-very special place and you don't have to be a native or to live there to fall in love with the place. You just need to visit and many do so year after year.

Originally my own lifelong fascination with the Broads and particularly its hire boat fleets led to my collecting postcards where these craft were individually identifiable, just for fun! Slowly but continuously this developed into my record of the Boat Builders and their creations in the years up to the early 1970’s when these specialised craft were still being hand built, in wood, by local craftsmen.

To help me in this pastime I have called upon my own memories and observations, my small collection of old holiday brochures and Broads library and, of course, the internet. My research also lead to a greater interest in the period beyond my own recollections and the production of the ‘Early Days’ and ‘Extras’ pages. Latterly my interest in the postcards themselves has also blossomed, particularly the early artist's cards, and I am now developing the, more in depth, boatyard history articles for another project. Previous visitors may notice that in 2014 some of these latter articles have been moved off the site. That is in preparation for another project, and the emphasis on those pages is now a little bit more 'postcard collector' orientated, as my interests, in that respect, have developed.

(For Links to new articles please see below this introduction. N.B. It is sometimes necessary to scroll down a little after the new page has fully loaded)

Naturally I have made every effort to ensure that my facts are correct and if I cannot be certain I try to make that clear within my text.  I am always delighted to hear from any visitor who can assist me, who disagrees with any of my “facts” or just wants to discuss the content. Your e-mails are always answered and input is always acknowledged on the site.

Likewise, pinpointing the vintage of photographs can be difficult. It gets easier with practice but one can rarely be precise, even when the publisher's index system is understood. Postal dating can provide a clue but some postcards remained in print, in retailer’s shops or even in people’s homes for many years; before being used. At the very least a postmark will reveal the latest date that a photograph may have been taken but it is the date of the photograph or view that I am most interested in correctly identifying.

The narrative initially takes the form of a cruise along the Broadland rivers and the pages entitled with the names of the Rivers show predominately post war coloured postcards. The 'Early Days & Art Cards' and 'Extras' pages contain earlier examples and samples of some of the postcard 'series' by individual artists or publishers; that I have enjoyed collecting as my interests expanded.

Now that the initial development of the site is completed new articles are added, on a fairly regular basis and flagged on this page; but this is subject to the availability of suitable material and time. Of course, the fact that the text is not initially a completed work may, at times, seem to interfere with the continuity of the piece. I will try to avoid this by linking-in the new topics as best I can.

In a similar way: The discussions are lead by the content of the postcards themselves; which does mean that you will find instances where they appear in sections other than their actual locations. For example: Truman & Hunter Yachts on the River Ant or Herbert Woods and Banham’s on the Lower Bure page. This is the result of the initial format and I hope visitors who are familiar with the Broads will forgive these apparent discrepancies?

Also: Occasionally, reference is made to current circumstances that may have changed since the date of writing. Since this is, first and foremost, a retrospective discussion, I probably won't attempt to keep all such comments strictly up to date. e.g. a recent instance: the Mike Barnes' Norfolk Broads Yachting Co. fleet now based at Martham Boats?   

The Broads are a national asset and as such can be the subject of political issues and differing opinions regarding usage and development. Other than my rather obvious fondness for the days when the rhond was lined with boat yards (around 90 in the early 1960s) I have made a point of avoiding comment on any such issues. This web-site is intended to be a purely nostalgic tour of the Broads and my only objectives are to share my enjoyment of the images and to maintain historical accuracy.

Naturally there are issues of copyright to be considered when using postcards for illustration and this also applies to the scans I have included; from the holiday firms' catalogues, to help better describe the boats encountered by the photographers.

I have contacted all the publishers concerned (where that was possible) for their permission to do this and am delighted to say that they have all responded in a most positive, friendly and interested manner. A list of these publishers (with thumbnail histories) and of individual contributors can be found on the 'Acknowledgements' page.

Some postcards were published by companies that have, long since, ceased trading and consequently it has not been possible "by reasonable inquiry" to ascertain the identity of the author or copyright holder. However, in many cases, it may be reasonable to assume that copyright has expired, or that the author has died 50 years, or more, before inclusion.

Wherever  possible, I have acknowledged these original companies and in the event that any person or organisation can assert ownership of an image's copyright, and has objections to its inclusion, I would hope that they will contact me; if only to seek the image's removal. I will of course comply with any such legitimate request.

In view of the growing trend to 'share' images from the internet, as encouraged by Facebook et al, I have recently felt the need to watermark some of my more precious postcard scans. I have tried to do this as unobtrusively as possible whilst ensuring that they cannot simply be cropped out from an edge location. I have even seen several images that have clearly been copied from eBay auctions! In view of these observations I would also like to point out that every image on this web-site is scanned from originals that are in my personal collection. 

Finally, where others, who are directly involved in the business, have written about the history of their own or their family's boatyards. I have respectfully endeavoured to avoid any repetition of their work but have included references or links to help visitors find out more about those firms.  

Brian Kermode

  What's New?

Featured Card of the Month - See Below:

In January 2019:      Early Days Page: The final card in the Brian Gerald Series found at last!
In June 2019:          River Waveney:  Notes on Mutford Lock                                                                                                                                                        

In July 2019:           Extras Page: A new card in the Day Tripper Boat article  

In January 2020:      Extras Page: Another addition to the Harry Spashett, Beccles, series
In January 2020:     River Waveney: A New Card at Beccles

In January 2020:          River Bure:   A New card at Horning

In February 2020:   Extras Page:   A new card within the Tour Boats article

                                                  The Card of the Month

Within my collection are very many more postcards than appear on this web-site. Often they show the Norfolk Broads in the distant past or they were just acquired because of my collector's interest. Some may be favourites that do not easily fit within the established format of the web-site. Or they may be held in reserve for someday in the future when I might discover more information about the scene or come up with a new idea for their inclusion. In that latter spirit I decided to share an example of these postcards each month and will allow them to remain as long as possible for the benefit of any visitor who might not yet have seen them.

­­­­­­ Card of the Month - November 2020

I suppose that the only element of this view that would be recognisable today is the bridge? Although there was no need then for the separate pedestrian walkway that adorns Wroxham Bridge these days. This view dates from the early twentieth century and the postcard was published by Sacret’s stores in Station Road. The large dark Granary building was constructed, next to the bridge, around 1900 and the Norfolk Broads Yachting Company whose signage can be seen on the nearest building was dissolved in 1920. The long sheds on the left are those of John Loynes & Sons and the pale roof beyond the bridge belongs to the premises of Ambrose Thrower’s Trip Boat business. Lastly it looks as though Pleasure Steamers Limited’s ‘Queen of The Broads’ is waiting for her daytrip passengers, to re-embark for the return trip to Gt. Yarmouth, at the Granary Staithe. That suggests that the photograph was taken on a weekday and therefore the Wherries present are not necessarily at their home bases.  

Carrying on from the earlier conversation about Pleasure Wherries (see Card of the Month for September) we can see three examples in this view. The Norfolk Broads Yachting Company had at least three such vessels, for hire, based here at their Hoveton yard. They were Dragon, Fairy Queen and Empress of India. The latter two could be the vessels nearby but after a lot of head scratching my best idea of their identities are: 'Enchantress', with the white mast top, and 'Empress of India' nearest the camera. Opposite is the large wherry 'Gaviota' but any other suggestions are welcome. 

John Loynes didn’t really go in for Pleasure Wherries preferring to build large Cutter Yachts to his own designs or converted from retired working boats. However his near neighbours the Collins family were time-served Master Wherry builders and they had several Pleasure Wherries for hire. Plus a good few more that were owned by other individuals but available for hire from Ernest Collins on a commission basis.

The likes of these two famous businesses were very organised and actively involved in the holiday hire business. Several others amongst their contemporary companies would have for hire at least one pleasure wherry for the larger party. These included: Ernest Collin’s brother Alfred who had the ‘Rose’, Leo Robinson and Fred Miller at Oulton Broad who had ‘Bramble and ‘British Queen’ respectively. Herbert Hipperson at Beccles had the ‘Black Prince’ which he motorised, Charles Broom at Brundall (whose premises had previously been part of the N.B.Y.Co. group) had the ‘Surprise’. The ‘Red Rover’ was available from J. W. Eastick, of Acle, and George Applegate Jnr. at Potter Heigham had the ‘Dauntless’.

During the realms of Queen Victoria and Edwardian VII, many pleasure wherries were commissioned for the use of private owners. A few of these would rent their boats out during the holiday season; perhaps engaging the services of an established boatyard to handle the administration of this on a commission basis. Ernest Collins was one of those entrusted with this service and in his list for 1908 he handled at least five such examples. Likewise a few individuals might keep a wherry and hire it out for skippered cruises themselves. Several publicans did this including James Jimpson who was the proprietor of the Kings Head Hotel (Hoveton) from 1865 - 1896. He kept the ‘Enchantress’ and William Crowe of the Horning Ferry Inn had the ‘Rambler’. Although, please note, this was not the stylised Wherry Yacht ‘Rambler’ owned by Leo Robinson at Oulton Broad but a traditional wherry. Perhaps the most famous of these would be George Smith who had the ‘Garnet’ and the ‘Claudian’ whilst he was Licensee of the Waveney Hotel at Oulton Broad and subsequently the Yare Hotel at Brundall. This was the same George Smith that came to the Horse Shoes at Hoveton, around 1900, and went on to found the famous ‘Broads Tours’ operation and the boat hire company George Smith & Sons which is still trading, under that name, today.

It is well known that some owners of trading wherries would clean out their vessels and add temporary windows and bulkheads to cater for visitors during the (then) quite short summer season. This was probably not as difficult as it sounds because a Wherry has a low coaming fixed around its hold which supports the hatch covers. These were referred to as the ‘standing right-ups’, by the wherrymen. Just their way of saying 'up-rights' probably? If a taller cargo required covering, additional or ‘shifting right-ups’ could be fitted atop the fixed coaming to raise the level of the hatch covers. When a temporary conversion was needed a spare set of shifting right-ups (incorporating built-in windows) would be employed - job done!      

I feel sure that some of the publicans who kept wherries would engage in this practice because many were independent business men and had various other strings to their bows. For example they might also be in business as Maltsters or Corn and Coal Merchants and a wherry would be a great asset to those trades. These various services seemed to go hand in hand, particularly in the Victorian period. However the most famous and organised concern that engaged in the practice of using temporarily converted wherries in the summer season has to be Press Brothers of North Walsham.

The brothers: Edward, George & Benjamin Press were Millers who had various related businesses during the latter half of the 19th Century. Famously they owned the two very large windmills in Great Yarmouth. Those were the Southtown Tower Mill, usually referred to as High Mill or Press’s Mill and the nearby Green Cap Mill. These were run by George and Benjamin Press who later became the Mayor of Gt. Yarmouth. Their brother Edward Press opened a boat yard at Ebridge a mile or so downstream of the Water Mill at Bacton Wood near North Walsham. He had purchased the water mill and later the Dilham & North Walsham Canal itself. This was actually a canalisation of the Upper River Ant that enabled the navigation of Wherries as far as Antingham and Dilham, on the other branch from Wayford Bridge. The Ebridge boat yard was used as the base for the five Wherries (Bertha, Elsie, Kate, Diligent and Lucy) that Press Brothers employed for their business and hired out for pleasure cruises each summer season. It was only a little over five miles from Wayford Bridge but guests were asked to join their wherry at the owner’s choice of location. By the same token guests had the choice of where to terminate their cruise; providing they gave notice of such. Arrangements such as this were not unusual at the time and I suppose they might have been more convenient for making rail connections. The nearest stations to Ebridge Ponds, for example, were around two miles away at North Walsham or Honing; in the district of Smallburgh.

                                             Card of the Month - October 2020


I thought I might have a bit of a change this month? This is a very recent card, by my usual standards, and would perhaps be more at home on the River Ant page but it is a recent acquisition and I like it so much I couldn’t resist sharing. In any event there are already pictures of this mill on the River Ant page and, of course, one of my own at the top of this page.

It’s a ‘Modern’ 150 x 105mm card by the J. Arthur Dixon company of Newport Isle of Wight and whilst I can’t precisely date the image I think it must be from around 1990? It is certainly after 1986 because that was the year that the restoration of Turf Fen Mill was completed with the addition of a new cap and sails. I only have a handful of cards by this company, which was founded in 1926 when John Arthur Dixon bought a small printing company on the Isle Of Wight. They used the high quality

Photo-Gravure printing system and that showed in the quality of their postcard reproductions. Perhaps it was no surprise that they were eventually taken over by the John Hinde company; whose colour products I have praised in the past. (Please see the Acknowledgements page) Sadly the business was closed in 2000. Probably another victim of the digital phone camera era which revolutionised the way we take and share photographs and probably did more to kill the postcard trade than any other changes.

In this beautifully reflective scene we see Turf Fen Mill, opposite How Hill, by the River Ant. Gliding past, very gently, are four happy young people aboard their yacht; she is one of the ‘Japonica’ class hired from Martham Boats above Potter Heigham. There were eight boats in the ‘Japonica’ class of 30ft Auxiliary Yachts which had four single berths in a very traditional layout. Originally known as Martham Boatbuilding & Development Company Ltd. this yard was founded in the late 1940’s and at some point after that were affiliated to the R.B. Bradbeer Ltd. Booking Agency of Lowestoft; the ‘Red Whale’ fleet. They were rivals to the established Blake’s Association and their contemporary W.B. Hoseason’s - Associated Broadland Owners; also based at Lowestoft (Oulton Broad) and founded around the same time, c.1948. Bradbeer’s ceased trading in 1971 and the yard shifted their affinity to Hoseason’s before changing to ‘Direct Hire’ independent booking in the 1980’s.

The original Martham Boatbuilding & Development Company established quite a  large fleet of traditional yachts, motor cruisers and day boats. They also hired out riverside bungalows and houseboats including the two famous pleasure wherries ‘Hathor’ and ‘Bramble’ up to the mid 1970’s. Today’s ‘Martham Boats’ are unusual in that many craft from the original fleet are still in hire to the present day; although a number of yachts have been bought from other fleets over the years. Most notably the recent (c. 2009) acquisition of ten or eleven of the Norfolk Broads Yachting Company fleet, from Horning, has maintained the cruising yacht fleet at the same level it was in the 1960’s. Today, however, only two of the eight original ‘Japonica’ class survive. At the same time only seven of the original forty cabin cruisers remain in-hire (plus little ‘Tumblehome’ which was built by Ernest Royall). All are traditional wooden boats, around fifty to seventy years old, and are marketed as a ‘classic’ fleet. Their individual designs share a fleet-family similarity that makes their identity instantly recognisable.

In the early days of Broads boating holidays virtually all the vessels were sailing craft of one sort or another but they were mostly sailed, for the guests, by skilled paid hands. From the 1920’s the popularity of Motor Cruisers began to increase many-fold partly because they were more suitable for self-drive hire and by the late 1980’s and 1990’s the number of sailing yachts for hire had reduced significantly as demand fell away. Perhaps due to the same original circumstance that only a minority of people had the skills or inclination to handle a yacht themselves? Consequently there remain only a handful of yards that still provide Yachts for holiday hire on the Broads. In fact “Martham Boats” are the only yard, that I know of, where guests can still hire a yacht or a motor cruiser.

The remainder specialise in Direct-Hire, Yachts only: “Hunter’s Yard” (Norfolk Heritage Fleet Trust) at Ludham still has for hire their original fleet which was built by Percy Hunter and his sons in the early 1930’s. One of those boats ‘Woodruff’ was lost in 1973 and another new yacht of their larger ‘Lullaby’ class (‘Lucent’) was built in 2007 i.e. around 75 years after her class sisters. The only other large established firm is Eastwood - Whelpton Ltd who have been operating from Upton Dyke since the late 1950’s. They have a mixed fleet of high quality Traditional Yachts and more modern GRP production yachts, some of which have been adapted to be most suitable for use on the Broads and attractive to hirers with all levels of sailing skill. The yard also runs a RYA sailing school and has local One-Design half deckers for hire.

There are also two smaller independent firms which have just a few yachts available although they are of beautiful quality: Collin Buttifant’s “Swallowtail Boatyard” at Ludham where the yachts are composite-built, in house, both for hire and for sale and the family owned “Oliver’s Sailing Holidays” at Martham Ferry which has several well maintained River Cruiser Class yachts for hire. All four web-sites are easily found by Googling the names in inverted commas. 

                                              Card of the Month September 2020

                                                                                                                    J. Salmon Ltd. Postcard

Malthouse Broad, Ranworth, in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s. Those years following World War 2 were characterised by intense activity in rebuilding the boating holiday-hire business of the Broads. The surviving but depleted hire fleets were largely made up of residual older boats, many of which had been hastily refurbished to bring them up to the standards which would enable them to cope reliably with the renewed demand. A few new boats were built to pre-war designs but many more new designs were developed and this was in no small part due to an influx of new yard owners. Some of whom were buying into established firms where the owners may have retired or even passed away during the War years. Some of whom were new start-up businesses created by local boat builders and other were financed by individuals who were new to the trade or the region. Yes, the post war years were a time of great opportunity for those with an entrepreneurial inclination and not just on the Norfolk Broads, of course.

In this view we can see two distinctive craft. Each one is an example of those scenarios mentioned above:

Moored alongside is a large and distinctive yacht, she is the ‘White Moth’ a wherry yacht built by Ernest Collins in 1915. If you will excuse a momentary diversion? It occurs to me that although these craft are regularly referred to on this website I have not explained the evolution or designations of craft such as this. I have rather taken it for granted that visitors will be familiar with their features. For the benefit of any readers who are not so sure please let me expand.

Before the Broads were ever a venue for holiday makers, that came and hired a yacht or cabin cruiser for a week or a fortnight, the Rivers and their extensions were used as commercial routes for the transport of goods between the local sea ports and the inland towns and villages. Some say that the early ‘Keels’ and, the more recent, ‘Wherries’ owed a lot to the design of the original Viking ships. That is a moot point but it is certainly true that they were similar with their, clinker built, double ended (sharp at both ends) hull form and shallow, relatively flat bottomed, profiles. These Wherries were used for ferrying cargoes around the Broadland area. Typically they would transport crops such as cereals for brewing or baking and other crops such as sugar beet. Timber and Coal would be loaded at Gt. Yarmouth or Lowestoft and transported inland. Often the Wherry Owners would also be in business as the Coal or Timber Merchants and some were Maltsters engaged in the brewing process. With the advent of the Railways and good roads this industry began to decline in the late 19th Century and had almost disappeared by the second World War. Today only two ‘Trading’ wherries are preserved in sailing condition. They are the famous ‘Albion’ which was rescued in 1949 and the more recently restored ‘Maud’ both residing at Ludham and cared for by charitable trusts.

When, in the late 19th Century, the Broads were discovered and people began to holiday afloat, there was no such thing as self-drive cruising; as it is understood today. Holidays on the Broads were very much a middle and upper class reserve; in short I mean people who would normally employ servants at the time. Working wherries were swept clean and temporary bulkheads and windows would be installed to provide comfortable cabins for the guests. A skipper was provided to handle the ship and a steward would assist but also attend to the cooking of meals and cleaning etc. The crew would live aboard or an allowance would be charged so that they might stay ashore overnight; if the guests preferred. Most often these temporary holiday craft would revert to their normal cargo trading outside the summer season. But as the popularity of these holidays grew, and the season extended, some boats would be permanently converted and some would be purpose built. Sometimes even for private ownership. These became what we know as ‘Pleasure Wherries’ and they had the hull form of a Trading Wherry and a permanent superstructure with private cabins, windows and companionways; perhaps even a piano in the saloon? The vast majority were clinker built with dark painted hulls but one or two had smooth carvel hulls that could be painted white to look more ‘yacht like’ and broaden their appeal to discerning customers. All of the permanent Pleasure Wherries could be distinguished by their white sails; in contrast to the black, coal tar and herring oil dressed, sails of the trading wherries. The crew of these pleasure wherries would stay in the little cabin aft and guests would often employ a bench seat set forward of the mast to enjoy the scenery whilst underway.

This type of holiday cruise became ever more popular, especially after Harry Blake created his booking agency and published his first illustrated “Yachting List” for Ernest Collins in 1908. This increased popularity lead to the building of more ‘Pleasure Wherries’ and development of the ultimate in skippered charter the “Wherry Yacht”. These elegant craft had the smooth carvel built and counter sterned hull form of a large yacht and the simple rig of a wherry; which was eminently suitable for the Broads. The Wherry rig consisted of a single sail set on a counterweighted mast; that could be easily lowered at bridges. To keep things simple, and the side decks clear, the mast was supported by a wire forestay only and employed no shrouds. The halyard which, raised the sail, was lead to a large winch at the front of the mast and incorporated a clever system of blocks that alleviated the need for a peak halyard; as might be used in a conventional Gaff rig. No boom was employed at the foot of the sail which [again] kept things simple, enabled the skilled helmsmen to change the shape of the sail to suit the conditions and provided a safer set up in the event of an accidental gybe. Personally, I think a wherry sailing off the wind is a particularly lovely sight as the sail is allowed to form a beautiful curve to gather the wind; since it is unconstrained by a heavy and rigid boom at its foot.

Internal arrangements in wherry yachts were similar to those of the pleasure wherries excepting that the former lacked the little rear cabin, like traditional wherries. They had a larger well aft or maybe even two. In that case it would be one for the helm and one for the guests who could sit undisturbed by the boat handling, in their own well or loll on the deck of the counter stern; which was often squared off to provide greater space. In this type of vessel the crew’s quarters would be in the forepeak where the cooking would often take place. At the overnight moorings the access below decks would be sheltered by an awning; such as we see in this example of ‘White Moth’ above. In fact: in this picture the cockpit awning seems to be in the process of being erected. This latter type of awning was in common usage in all forms of broadland yacht, except the pleasure wherries, and remains so to the present day.

So what of this ‘White Moth’ the Wherry Yacht? She was built for a private commission, in 1915, by Ernest Collins & Son of Wroxham. (That son being Percy Collins whose brothers, Fred and Robert, had yet to be incorporated in the company name) ‘White Moth’ was sold back to her builders in 1920 and soon joined their hire fleet. She was 58 ft long with a beam of 13ft.6in. and could accommodate ten guests in one double cabin, four singles and there were two double berths in the saloon. There were wash basins in each cabin, a separate WC and a Bathroom. In the saloon a piano was provided; for an evening sing song? High season charges would be £26:10:0d per week, including the use of a sailing dinghy and the services of a skipper and attendant.  


                                                                                    'White Moth' moored opposite Norfolk Broads Yachting Co. Horning

The yacht survived the rigours of the 1939 -1945 War and was returned to hire in 1947 which was the first full year that holiday hire was once more on offer through Blake’s. Yachts of this type still required a crew to handle the sailing but few survived the war and their days were numbered. By 1956 ‘White Moth’ had been relegated to the role of a Houseboat based on the Hoveton bank opposite Ernest Collins main premises. By 1962 she was in declining condition and was sold into private ownership but perhaps she proved too much for the new owners and by the mid-1970s she was to be found lying half-sunken at St Olaves. Happily that is not the end of her story and in 1985 she was rescued by Colin Facey and underwent a five year restoration. Once again she became available for charter from Colin’s fleet in 1991 but is sold on at the end of that season. The following year the historic Norfolk Broads Yachting Company’ name is resurrected and ‘White Moth’ joins that fleet based at the old Southgate base in Horning. In 2012 many of their fleet were transferred to Martham Boats but ‘White Moth’ changed hands once again and she is now on permanent loan to Wherry Yacht Charter Trust where she is available for both day and residential charter.

Well, that took longer than I thought! Sorry about that and if you’re still reading - thank you for your patience. In the postcard: it just remains to discuss the cabin cruiser mud weighting nearer to the camera. This boat represents the group that were built to new designs, by new owners, after the War. This is a third generation ‘Fairwind’ or ‘Finewind’ class from Graham Bunn of Wroxham, whose premises, at the time, were adjacent to those of John Loynes below Wroxham Bridge. Graham Bunn followed his father into the boatbuilding trade and was an  established boatbuilder mainly producing yachts and cabin cruisers for other hire yards and trip boat owners. He founded his own hire yard around 1932; adopting his “Wind” suffix fleet names although he traded as Graham Bunn. 

Graham produced work for the Admiralty at his yard during the 2nd World War but in 1945 he retired and the business was purchased by T. M. (Donald) Hagenbach who commissioned the new boats such as we see here. The first two new ‘Fairwinds’ replaced two older boats that were themselves quite new before the War. The new boats were ready for hire in 1947 and within a few years there were five boats in the class. These cabin cruisers were modern, even rakish looking, craft of 39ft and had Seven berths. The following year the ‘Finewind’ class also appeared for hire. Outwardly these were identical to the ‘Fairwind’ class albeit one single bunk was removed from the main cabin leaving only six berths altogether. These boats were designed by Ronald (Rip) Martins who started at the yard during the war as an employee and eventually became the head designer. In 1960 he left and formed his own Naval Architect’s business which was responsible for a good number of well known Broads designs. Meanwhile the Graham Bunn company name was officially changed to ‘Wind Boats’ and expanded to include the Wayford Bridge Yacht Station until the hire fleet was dissolved around 1974; following another change of management. Thereafter the company concentrated on building high quality yachts for Oyster Marine and the Hardy motor cruisers at North Walsham


               'Solace' a privately owned 'Pleasure Wherry' built by Daniel Hall of Reedham in 1903 

                           'Albion' the famous Trading Wherry built by William Brighton in 1898

                                           Card of the Month - August 2020


It seems to me that in bygone days postcards showing Regatta events were rather more popular than they are today. Or at least, in more recent times; when sending postcards was still quite a popular thing to do. Perhaps that is because Yachting is not really seen as a populace spectator sport nowadays? Maybe that has to do with certain social misconceptions or a lack of understanding of the rules and tactics. Who knows, maybe modern television coverage, with its digital graphics, will go some way to addressing that? At least you can see who is in the lead now, even on the windward legs!

On the Broads: yacht racing was very popular with casual spectators, in the past, and postcard images of racing and water frolics, like here at Horning and places like Potter Heigham, Acle and Oulton Broad were numerous; so examples are still easily come by these days. However, for me, this card is particularly interesting in its own right. It is by Jarrold’s of Norwich and is from a small series of “Photochromic” type images that were produced in the 1920’s. As far as I am aware Jarrolds were not known for using this colour printing system and [so far] I have only found about a dozen of these cards amongst their very numerous Broadland publications. It may be that they were experimenting with this colour printing process because it doesn’t seem that many more were produced. Several amongst the few I have found were also reproduced as postcards in their original black and white format and a number were used in that publisher’s book “100 Pictures of the Norfolk Broads” which dates from 1927. In fact there is a picture in that book which may well have been taken on the same occasion, as the one above, and it is described as the summer of 1926. That’s a neat snippet of information for the likes of myself really.

I should caution that some pictures in that book are earlier but there should be little confusion with Jarrold’s 1905 publication “Pictures in Colour of the Norfolk Broads” which employed photographs that had been colour tinted by hand. As usual some of those images were also published in the form of postcards but I am aware of only one such that appeared in both publications; an image of the River Yare at Thorpe St. Andrew.

On this website there are various references to the history of the ‘Yare & Bure One Design’ yachts or ‘White Boats’ as they are commonly known. Hopefully this means that I do not have to repeat my previous comments ad-nauseum. Suffice to say that all of the boats in the foreground were built by their designer ‘Ernest Woods’ at Cantley; when the location was more popular for racing and before the sugar beet factory was built. He later removed to a location near Horning Ferry. The earliest example here: no.4 ‘Sonia’ was built in 1908 and at the time of this picture was owned by the well known Broadland yachtsman W.L. Clabburn; a friend of the builder. We can also see no. 9 ‘Adonis’ no.16 ‘Swallowtail’ and no.14 ‘Clearwing’ which, at this time, was owned by the Boardman family of How Hill.

                      Card of the Month - July 2020

Well what do you know? Even after last month’s comments we have yet another printed view! Again, I was more interested by the content. Well that’s my excuse anyway! This one is anonymously published but I think I have a fair idea of its vintage. It’s the Bridge Reach at Wroxham and the nearby boats hail from the fleet of Ernest Collins & Sons. In the first, place we should remember that Ernest and Alfred Collins both held property on the Wroxham and the Hoveton banks of the river. They had inherited the land and premises from their father. Wherry and Yacht Builder - Robert Collins who had learned his trade apprenticed to Samuel Press of Coltishall. Ernest had done the same but I am not quite sure which Coltishall yard he trained at; it might have been Allen’s? Later when the brothers divided the business to continue independently they each retained parts of the property on both sides of the river. 

The boats we see in the foreground are on the moorings retained by Ernest Collins who had the bulk of his premises on the opposite bank. It was easier for guests arriving by rail to come to these moorings where they were then able to take a ferry (provided by Ernest Collins) to the other side; in the event that their vessel was based over there. Similarly Alfred Collins had boatsheds on the Wroxham bank adjacent to Ernest’s but the bulk of his business was established on the Hoveton side. We know that Alfred retired in about 1934 and the business was taken over by Jack Powles whose name is freshly embellished on the shed roof in the centre of the picture. These sheds were built in the early 1930’s and were a prominent landmark on the Hoveton waterfront for several decades. They stood on the site now occupied by the Wroxham Hotel and originally the sheds bore the name of Alfred Collins on the roof along with the message ”Offers The Highest Value In Broads Cruising Craft” emblazoned across the four Gable Ends. To me the Jack Powles sign looks fresh here and the roof has obviously required a new coat of black paint to cover the original words. That leads me to the impression that this picture was probably taken in or around 1935 when the change of trading name to ‘Jack Powles & Co.’ took place.

One can only guess at the identity of the wherry yacht in the immediate foreground. It could be any one of several in Ernest Collins’ fleet. Nevertheless I would think it most likely ‘Olive’ or ‘Norada’ given that there is a clue in the presence of boom crutches. A traditional wherry rig does not employ a boom on the mainsail. Although a few examples of these craft did use them, including the two mentioned above and Alfred Collins’ ‘Goldfinch’ although she was withdrawn shortly after the change of management to Jack Powles & Co.

The two sailing craft double-moored in the next berth are a bit easier to name. Particularly the rather famous ‘Reindeer’ a luxurious purpose built Pleasure Wherry. I don’t have a precise build date for ‘Reindeer’ but my earliest evidence of her dates from 1904 and it seems most probable that she was launched during the last decade of the 19th Century. Her career in-hire lasted until the 1939 -1945 War and throughout that time she enjoyed the following brochure description: “The Reindeer is a large Wherry. Her accommodation is doubtless the best that can be produced for a Pleasure Wherry and she is one of the best fitted Wherries on the Broads.” Clearly Ernest was very proud of his creation and an idea of her quality is evident in the picture below showing her, with guests and skipper, at Oulton Broad; which was a popular destination in the days of skippered cruises. The photograph appears to date from the heyday of such cruises in the Edwardian period when local photographers enjoyed a brisk trade in souvenir pictures at this location. Gradually the ‘Pleasure Wherries’ in the Collins’ fleet were replaced by the more elegant ‘Wherry Yachts’ but Reindeer was the longest surviving of her type; in that fleet. After the War she passed into private ownership and was converted to a Motor Wherry.  It was also common for such vessels to end up as houseboats when their maintenance in sailing trim became uneconomical and my last information is evidence that she was available to hire as a houseboat, in the late 1950's, at Burgh Castle Yacht Station.


Because of her distinctive full length skylight the other yacht alongside ‘Reindeer’ is believed to be ‘Reed Bird’, also a Ernest Collins’ yacht available for skippered charter. Originally the Holiday Charter pioneers, such as the Collins family and John Loynes, built elegant cutter yachts to their own designs or from conversions and wherries. Some of the latter might be either purpose built or adapted traders. Perhaps some of which were cleaned out and fitted with temporary furnishings and windows just for the peak holiday season; returning to their normal employment for the rest of the year. Meanwhile there was a desire to satisfy the requirements of the more discerning customers which led to the development of the elegant Wherry yachts but in their turn new smaller yachts of the generic Broads ‘River Cruiser’ type would prevail. Their advantage was that they might not require a skipper and attendant to handle the sailing. However some early examples like Collins’ ‘Reed Bird’ and ‘Blue Diamond’ were still pretty large craft. ‘Reed Bird’ was 40ft on deck and, when you think about it, that is only a couple of feet shorter than the largest cabin cruisers of today! Imagine meeting one of them tacking down the River Ant towards your motor cruiser? Of course the trend towards smaller yachts was encouraged by the increasing cost of providing crew and more and more self-sufficient customers. Consequently smaller and more easily handled yachts became the norm; especially by the mid.1950’s when the practice of providing skippers was effectively dying out. Probably due to her size ‘Reed Bird’ was amongst the last few yachts to provide hirers with a Sailing attendant; up until her retirement which was around 1960. 

Card of the Month - June 2020


Wherever possible I like to purchase real-photographic postcards, for my collection, but sometimes a printed card becomes available that is just too interesting to pass up. For me this is just such a card but, you never know, I may eventually find a photographic copy? Because this is a card by the Photochrom Company of London and Tunbridge Wells. That company often presented different versions of their images such as Black & White Real Photo-cards as well as Printed half-tone cards which could be produced at less cost. Sometimes they might also produce a Photochromic Colour version. That system added the colour in the printing process rather than by the use of colour film which did not become widely available until the 1930’s and didn’t really become universal in postcard production until well after WW2. Hence the company marketed different versions or ‘series’ of the images, that were priced according to type, and it is perfectly likely that a real photograph version of this card was produced. I just need to be patient and keep my eyes open.

The card is entitled “Entrance to Wroxham Broad” and I would say that this is the southerly or small entrance which is downstream of the larger entrance. People approaching from Horning often enter the Broad here and exit at the northern entry or vice-versa; although in this case it appears that the approach has been from upstream of the entrance. The launch in the picture is my principle interest and she is ‘Broadland Belle’ built in 1913 by Alfred Collins whose burgee can be seen painted on her transom in this picture.


Broadland Belle was built “Especially for Day Parties on the Broads” and could be pre-booked and enjoyed by private groups or families rather than the more popular offerings of day trips for all-comers. She could accommodate up to 35 people and offered skippered cruising with all the facilities required for a pleasant day’s sight-seeing and picnicking. 

This picture dates from the late 1920’s when Alfred Collins was still operating the launch from his main premises on the Hoveton bank of the River Bure. A few years later Alfred retired from that business and his manager Jack Powles formed a new company under his own name; Jack Powles & Co. Ltd. operating from the same location. Jack had built several boats for William Littleboy who ran a fleet of Day Tripper Launches from Wroxham and ‘Broadland Belle’ passed into that fleet. A little later, of course, Mr. Littleboy’s fleet was amalgamated with that of Broads Tours, in Station Road, after Charles Hannaford bought that business from George Smith’s family. There’s more about the history of Broads Tours on the ‘Extras’ page of this website.

                                       Card of the Month - May 2020


Of the many tasks involved with maintaining a web-site such as this, the parts I enjoy most are the research and writing the short discussions that describe the content of the postcards. At times it feels like having a bit of a natter, or a mardle as they might say in Norfolk? Despite an extensive collection of material I still, sometimes, struggle to find inspiration for my next card of the month. Thankfully this time serendipity has intervened in the form of new information and enlightenment. This has prompted me to select the above (c.1930) postcard by the ‘Bell Photo Company’ of Westcliffe-on-Sea; as it is always nice to solve a mystery and because it has a coincidental link with the [April] previous month’s example.  

I’m sure that any Broads visitor will recognise this location at the bend in the river at Horning. It’s probably the single most photographed location; along with Horning Ferry, the Bridges at Wroxham and Potter Heigham or the Mills at Thurne and Hunsett? Many will also recognise that this is a race of White Boats taking place at Horning Sailing Club. But then you look a little closer and notice that the nearest boat with sail number ‘H’1 has a Lug main-sail! “That can’t be right, can it?” “White Boats (YBODs) are Gunter rigged surely?” I purchased this card in 2018 and, when I examined it, I thought the boat looked like a Gt. Yarmouth One Design but the ‘H’ sail insignia rather threw me off the scent. I had not seen anything similar before and was unable to google my way out of the mystery! Could it be the wrong sail for the boat? That happens sometimes when people are experimenting or economising maybe?

This week and quite by chance I discovered the answer when I found that the Gt Yarmouth One Design class has a Facebook group run by Jamie Campbell of Hamilton Publications. I quickly discovered more of the history of these boats, than I previously knew, and the reason for the ‘H’ class insignia; which I would not have guessed in a month of Sundays! I was not nearly so quick in relocating the filed away postcard! I have an apparently meticulous cataloguing system for my postcards which are filed in albums and separately listed by Publisher, Index number (if any) and the Publisher’s title. But after two years I could not remember any of those key facts. I was just convinced that I had seen this boat somewhere or other, so it was a matter of looking through all the albums; or at least those that were time relevant. This will be easier in future because I list all new acquisitions with thumbnail images and album location but it would be an enormous task to do this retrospectively!

When I discussed these boats, previously, in a Charles Aldous postcard on the ‘Extras’ page I was aware that they derived from a prototype designed by Walter Woods (Herbert’s father) for the Gt. Yarmouth Yacht Club. That boat was ’Noinin’ and after a few modifications she was followed by six more versions which became the Gt. Yarmouth O.D. class. However no more boats were built to this design. They were such a small fleet and since they were not all kept in the same location they usually raced in mixed fleets known as the “Half Deckers“ where they enjoyed some success. This is why the ‘H’ insignia was adopted but I do not get the impression that this was universal and most reverted to simply showing their class number like the White boats. According to those in the know: the Yarmouths are faster than Yare & Bure O.D’s in light airs but the latter stand up better in a blow.

So what has this to do with the April view you may ask? In that postcard we saw the first YBOD # 1 ‘Fritillary’ which was destroyed in the 1939 fire at Richard Southgate’s boat shed; above the Swan bend. The perhaps ironically named ‘Cinder Oven Reach’ of the River Bure. This the first GYOD # 1 ‘Baby’ also perished in that same fire as did # 6 ‘Gladys’ so the first boat and one other from each class was destroyed in the same incident; as did several others of the River Cruiser class. These are the traditional Broads cabin yachts, rigged for racing, and Speedwell, Clio, Ada and Majestic are those that I have seen named as victims of this tragedy. This means that only four examples of the Great Yarmouth One Design now survive. Numbers 2 & 3 ‘Pimpernel’ and ‘Cigarette’ are still sailing as is number 5 ‘Helen’ which was subject to a rebuild in 2008. Number 4 ‘White Damsel’ was owned by Jennifer Broom (Daughter of Herbert Woods) and is now at the Museum of the Broads in Stalham.

                                     Card of the Month - April 2020


Another card by Arthur Sergeant’s ‘Lilywhite Ltd’ and whilst, at first glance, this one may look a little unremarkable there is a tale or two to be told about the scene. Again it’s around 1930 and the first thing that caught my attention was the sail number of the little yacht passing by. This is the very popular Broads racing and cruising class the Yare and Bure One-Design (YBOD) which are often referred to as “White Boats.” If you have read ‘Coot Club’ and what true Broads lover, of a certain age, hasn’t? These boats were the model for the racing boat ‘Flash’ sailed by Mr. Farland and his twin daughters; who were famously dubbed ‘Port’ and ‘Starboard’ on account of their allocated crewing duties. Arthur Ransome made a practice of fictionalising real places, people and facts, in his books; nearly always changing the names. Of course, he used the real place names in Coot Club and The Big Six and in the two Pin Mill stories. At the age of nine or ten I was already a Ransome fan and that was what brought me to the Norfolk Broads in the first place.  

The original designer and official builder of the White Boats was Ernest Woods, Brother of Walter Woods and Uncle of the famous Herbert Woods of Potter Heigham; master boat-builders all. Now by virtue of her sail number (#1) we know that this is the first of these yachts to be built by Ernest Woods at Cantley in 1908. (He moved to Horning around 1926 giving his name to Woods’ Dyke near the Ferry) In keeping with class rules the boat’s name was chosen from those of our butterflies; in her case ‘Fritillary’ built for Dr. Crowdy and his family. * 

Sadly the fact that recalls this particular boat’s part, in the history of the fleet, is one of tragedy! After the outset of War in September 1939 boating was to be suspended on the Norfolk Broads because of fears that an invasion could take place; perhaps by using sea planes to land troops on the Broads themselves. Many pleasure boats were commandeered to help discourage such a plan and many more were de-commissioned and placed in storage for the duration. ‘Fritillary’ and at least two other White Boats were carefully stored in the boatsheds of Richard Southgate, a Horning boat-builder who had premises just upstream of the Swan bend. I should observe that, in this case, the boats would have probably been stored for the winter, in any event.There is always a risk of fire in a workplace that contains so much flammable material and unfortunately that is what took place in the October of that year. An accidental fire that destroyed several boats, including YBOD #1 and #8 Painted Lady. Fortunately, White Admiral #9 was extricated in time to save her. The Southgate’s business continued for a while after removing to the sheds by the New Inn but unfortunately neither Richard Southgate or his brother William survived the War. Again their deaths were from natural causes and not as  a result of the hostilities. The premises next to the New Inn still carry the Southgate name to this day albeit the signage dates from the post-war period when the Herbert Woods company were operating Southgate’s as a subsidiary at the two locations in Horning.    

* Near the foot of the ‘Extras’ page there is a slightly more in-depth account of the history of the White Boats and the founding clubs in the ‘Club Committee Boat’ discussion; within the Bell Photo Company of Leigh-on-Sea section.

To continue with the theme of war time Horning: let’s now remember what happened to the Ferry Inn itself. It’s a better known story but, I think, still worth the re-telling? One Saturday night, In the spring of 1941, as closing time approached, a single German bomber attacked the pub whilst trying to shake off a night fighter. It is generally believed that the building was briefly illuminated by a motorist rushing to make the bar in time for a drink before the bar closed. At least 15 bombs were released most of which fell harmlessly into the river or the marshlands beyond. One bomb hit the Horse Ferry pontoon which can be seen in the picture above. The wheel that can be seen on its nearest side is the hand winch which operated the chain mechanism and propelled the ferry across the river. This ferry was out of action for several years before it was eventually replaced although I imagine that foot passengers would still be able to cross using the row boat; which can be seen here ahead of the yacht.    

Sadly one bomb made a direct hit on the pub, blowing the thatched roof clean off and depositing it along with a couple of guests, who had already retired for the night, onto the front lawn. Altogether twenty one souls were lost that night. The majority of those that had been enjoying the last drinks of the night in the bar. The deceased included Seven members of the armed forces, mostly R.A.F, The barman, Five members of the Sutton family including their Father; who had business interests in the Gt. Yarmouth fishing industry. Joseph Lejeune who was the foreman at Chumley & Hawke’s nearby boat yard. Mr A. L. Rhodes who was an international entrepreneur who divided his time between Horning and Doncaster and had been responsible for the development of the waterways and bungalows upstream of the ferry. Perhaps most notably the little white windmill cottage that is such a well-known land mark to this day? Amongst the few survivors were Mr Stringer the owner of the Ferry Inn who had been playing darts and was trapped in the rubble for some time. Miss Leighton and Mrs Read the Manageress and the Cook who were in the kitchen away from the main blast.

Mr Stringer was a builder by profession and amazingly, within three weeks, the Inn had been re-built in a temporary fashion and opened for business again; for the remainder of the war. In fact the new replacement for the Ferry Inn was not completed until 1954. There is an artist’s picture (by E.W. Trick) of the temporary Inn on the Early Days and Art Cards page of this web-site. The surviving chimney and the Bowling Green pavilion, which was moved over to adjoin the rebuilt bar for use as a lounge, can be seen in that picture.

And just as a parting observation: which gives me a little amusement. With the advantage of having the original postcard one can tell that the white spot that can be seen on the new looking ridge cap of the pub’s roof is actually a cat! I wonder if he or she needs help to get down or was that position used as a regular vantage point? I doubt that a cat would have much difficulty moving about on a thatched roof.

                                     Card of the Month - March 2020

One of a pair of recently acquired and lovely ‘real-photo’ postcards by Lilywhite Ltd. of Halifax. That firm was founded in 1910 but I think this image is late 1920’s because my favourite (?) ‘Enchantress’ is employed here in her latter role as a skippered motor yacht; for private parties. In fact the card was posted in 1931 so hopefully that bears out my estimate. I won’t bore regular visitors by re-telling the story of ‘Enchantress’ (again) but that can be found amongst the Harry Spashett and Beccles articles on the ‘Extras’ page if you are not already aware of her history as a Royal impersonator? The second card in my collection shows a much more close-up view of ‘Enchantress’ in exactly the same spot but I do not feel that the two pictures were taken on the same day. What looks like a beer crate, by the skipper, actually sits atop of a cabinet and is of a different sort in the larger view. Also in the latter: around six petrol cans are stored to the starboard side of the helm, which would probably not even have been noticed had I only seen this view. This was because 'Enchantress' ran on paraffin whilst cruising but petroleum would be employed to assist with the engine starting process. 

The skipper can be seen keeping a watchful eye on the gentleman and the ladies, with their lovely parasols, going for a row around the broad. Or maybe he’s offering a friendly word of advice to the yacht crew? That actually seems more likely because she would be ‘in irons’ given how close to the wind she seems to be pointing! I don’t think they are going about? In any event, what a pleasant sight they all make? Perhaps the rowers are also in the company of the guests lounging on the sun deck of Enchantress? I have enjoyed a row around Womack myself, from time to time, but have only recently discovered that there is an old dyke, leading to the Staithe Road, which joins the Broad at the north western corner. That would be just past the old boathouse in the background here. I shall have to make a point of seeking it out when next I visit. 

I do like the little yacht, her lines are very pleasing to my eye. She belongs to a certain group of small and simply rigged yachts which were designed to be easily sailed by novices or solo hirers. These tended to be around twenty feet or less and usually had just two berths. Some were simply constructed with a hard chine hull form but as you can see this example has a nicely round bilged ‘carvel’ construction. As was usual she has a single sail or ‘Una rig’ to keep things simple for the novice or single hander and her halyard was lead back to the steering well. That meant that the sail could be raised or lowered without the necessity to leave the helm and work at the foot of the mast. Very handy for a singlehanded sailor I should think? If only I had that facility available when I was a novice and a motor cruiser forced me to sail up Thurne Dyke! More about that on the River Thurne page.  

Quite a number of the well-known boatyards at Wroxham, Oulton Broad and elsewhere, had yachts of this type for hire. For the purposes of identification their appearance often had distinguishing features so many can be excluded here. Although it is not possible to be certain, I would suggest that this is a ‘Waif’ class from Pegg & Son at Wroxham. ‘Waif’ was built in 1927 and her sister ‘Vagabond’ the following year. Later additions to the class were also blessed with similarly raffish names such as: Vagrant, Idler, Scamp, Knave, Rascal or Urchin. Amusing in their time, I should think, but maybe not quite so acceptable these days?

Hire charges remained stable throughout the 1930’s and ‘Waif’ could be hired for £6 per week, in the high season. Hirers had the option of an Outboard motor for 50/- (£2.50) a week or alternatively a Rowing dinghy could be included for 10/- (50p) a week. At the time you couldn’t hire both and I suppose that was because an outboard and a dinghy together might present a risk of fouling one another and subsequent damage? Although it is not unheard of for people to push their yachts through bridges using a dinghy which is, itself, equipped with an outboard.


Once again I chose to share this postcard, ‘View on the Ant’ from the Photochrom Company, almost entirely for its charm rather than any ability, of my own, to identify the boats and discuss their histories; so this should be brief? Déjà vu anybody or is that just me? It’s a real photograph but unfortunately the original has quite high contrast so I think that has hampered the scan quality a little. I have tried to reduce the contrast but I am not sure that it’s much of an improvement really?

There are several clues to suggest that this photograph is from the Edwardian period; apart from the obvious elegance of the couple; and particularly the lady. First and most convincing is the old Ludham bridge, in the background. That bridge was replaced after the floods of 1912 so it is clear that the picture was taken before 1915 when the work on the new bridge was completed. Secondly we have a Photochrom index number which puts the date between 1905 and 1907. Also the card carries a charming message from a little girl (Miss Clare Kenworthy) writing to her “daddy” aboard R.M.S. ‘Gaelic’ c/o of the White Star Line at Queenstown, Ireland. That town, now better known as Cobh of course, was the regular stopping off point for Irish passengers on the Trans-Atlantic route. It is on record that this ship was no longer in service with White Star after 1905 so I would say that is the most likely date for this postcard. Unfortunately the card was not sent individually so there is no postal date to help further. Little Clare mentions that she is on board a skippered motor Launch en-route to Gt. Yarmouth so it is easy to picture her aboard a launch just like this one; the ‘Dawn’ from (looks like) Stalham? It seems clear in this case that the boatmen are holding the launch with painter and boathook for the purposes of the photographer. I can imagine them silently urging the photographer to “get on with it” through gritted teeth but that might just be my own sense of mischief? Perhaps the gentleman aboard the launch, with his lady wife, is also an officer in the Merchant Marine; or even the Royal Navy for that matter?

On our right (i.e. the North East Bank) we can see the Ludham Bridge Mill, forever known as “Beaumont’s Mill” because it was a Mr. Charles Beaumont who worked this mill from 1916 up to c.1937. This wind pump ceased work at the end of that period and the remains were completely demolished and removed in the early 1960’s. Looking just past the lower right hand sail the North Ludham Bridge Mill can be seen on the horizon. This pump was visible from the bridge and lay derelict for decades. I believe that the remains of the tower just about survive although they are so concealed by shrubs and trees that they would not be readily seen by casual observation.

A bowsprit can just be distinguished on the nearest white yacht which suggests she is a ‘Cutter’ yacht. A type that was popular in this era and were often conversions adapted from sea-going working boats which might previously have been used as fishing vessels or beach yawls. This example does have a very low cabin superstructure similar to Ernest Collins’ ‘Mayflower’ but to suggest that she is one and the same would be pure speculation! In a similar way the next two vessels are both ‘Pleasure Wherries’ which could possibly hail from Ernest Collins’ yard at Wroxham as well? The nearest could be the converted trader ‘Victory’ and the second ‘Reindeer’ which was purpose built as a Pleasure Wherry. Both of those craft were working in-hire at the time of this photograph and regularly cruised the River Ant but that is no proof of their identity here.

Finally, a working ‘Trader’ Wherry can be seen just down stream from the bridge. She has her sail lashed to the gaff, keeping it out of the way of her hatches, so perhaps she taking on or discharging cargo? She might even be removing her slipping keel, before proceeding onto the shallower waters upstream; or vice versa. It seems entirely possible that this is one of Harry Burton’s fleet; en-route for his Corn and Coal Merchant’s base by Stalham Staithe. All of these sights are evocative and entirely in keeping with Edwardian sailing holidays on the Broads. 

                                Card of the Month - January 2020

This month’s offering is the result of a bit of a mistake but one which, I think, proved serendipitous! I selected the card from a well known auction site because I mistakenly thought that it showed the old Wherry Inn at Oulton Broad. Of course, I should have looked closer because as soon as the card arrived I realised my mistake. The house in the background is actually the home of Leo Robinson within the grounds of his Broadside Yacht Station. The new card was a photo-gravure print which carried the distinctive trademark of J. Salmon of Sevenoaks, Kent. I knew that I also had a handful of similar views published by R.A. (Postcards) Ltd. of London and made a comparison with those cards. There I found the same view but it was a Real Photo card published anonymously. Because of the similarities I had mistakenly attributed that card to the R.A. Series. So not only have I corrected my initial attribution, with confidence, but I also have a better ‘real-photo’ copy already in my possession, and one which aligns with two previous ‘Card of the Month’ offerings from around this locality. Those for May and September of 2019. This card was posted in September 1929 which adds a little more accuracy to my estimated dates for the other cards. i.e. Around 1930 or late 1920’s. 

Nevertheless: this view interests me for another reason which concerns Leo Robinson. In his role as the eldest son Leo inherited the boatyard from his father and expanded the business considerably. Initially his younger brother Jack Robinson also participated in the business until sometime in the late 1920’s when there was a family falling out and Jack left his brother’s firm to start out on his own. The little jetty in the foreground was the foundation of Jack’s new business and came to be known as the New Jetty. It was here that he started renting out small boats to visitors (who wished to explore the broad by water) and running motor boat trips. This change had taken place by the time of this photograph as Jack’s name can be seen on the bill board by the jetty. Jack shared his brother’s entrepreneurial talents and quickly expanded his business. Throughout the 1930’s he built up a fleet of cabin cruisers and yachts and in partnership with John Jenner of Thorpe (also a Lowestoft native) established the Broadland Yachting Association; a letting agency to rival Blake’s; at the time. 

With the advent of War in 1939 boating was curtailed on the Broads and shortly after Jack passed away following a surgical operation which went badly wrong. It is sad to say that Jack died at the young age of only 45 and although he had three sons none were ready to take over his business; which was eventually bought up by the Blake’s organisation. Meanwhile Leo had removed some of his boats to Tewksbury where he could operate them on the River Severn during the War. He died a few years later, in 1952, and his business at Oulton Broad continued with his son Neville at the helm.  

Coincidently the only boat here, that I can confidently suggest an identification for, is from Jenner’s neighbouring yard. That of Alfred G. Ward whose fleet was formed around 1925. She was one of his earliest hire cruisers ‘Sea Gull’ which was a 35ft eight berth craft. Under hire she would be navigated by a skipper who looked after the boat and her engine but was not expected to provide catering services. The skipper was accommodated in a tiny cabin right aft. ‘Sea Gull’ can be seen on the left hand side of this photograph; rafted up with a couple of yachts. She can also be seen in the background of the view (6054) for May 2019 from Nicholas Everitt Park so we can assume that the photographer had walked from their first view point back to Bridge Road; taking this second shot (6055) along the way.  

By the time of this picture Alfred’s fleet had expanded to eight craft and ‘Sea Gull’, previously his largest cruiser, had been usurped by the 42 foot ten berth ‘Sea Wolf’ built in 1928. After the War Alfred and his family continued the business at Thorpe Hall and expanded the fleet until around 1965 when the business was bought by David Millbank who already owned Jenner’s of Thorpe. In his further expansions Mr Millbank acquired several other famous yards but was, shortly after, bought out by the Caister Group.

Card of the Month - December 2019

This month’s offering is a charming view of Horning Ferry taken in the early 1930’s for the Herbert Coates ‘Nene Series’ and, as-was that firm’s custom and practice, several postcards were photographed on the same occasion. I will just be showing this one for now as I am currently waiting for a replacement to be delivered from abroad. That’s because my other example was half eaten by the Royal Mail’s machinery! I am glad to have found a replacement as cards like this are not that easy to come by. The Inn is sporting a new ridge cap to its thatched roof and there are a number of deck chairs ready on the lawn for customers to watch the world go by whilst enjoying their refreshments. The two ferry craft can be seen (just left of centre) moored on the Horning bank ready for travellers. Both the large horse ferry which was operated by chain and the smaller rowing boat which was used to convey foot passengers. When this building was bombed in 1941 one German bomb made a direct hit on the ferry pontoon and it was out of service for the remainder of the war. I am not sure when the chain ferry was eventually discontinued here but when I first visited around 1960 there was just a large punt which carried brewery advertising and was also operated by chains across the river. People wishing to cross could operate the punt themselves. A practice that could be the source of some hilarity at closing time!  

The most distinctive cabin cruiser is that moored by the Inn and she is easily identified as ‘Engadine’ which was built in 1928 but had unfortunately vanished from the hire lists by 1935. That (and another fact below) helps to date the postcard, within about five years, but I have no knowledge of what fate befell her. Nor is it possible to be 100% certain of her ownership but it is my belief that she was built at the yard of Oswald King at Hoveton and that small yard retained their hire craft for a good many years. A fact that leads me to believe that ‘Engadine’ may have suffered a total loss such as a catastrophic fire or such like. Perhaps Mr King had some connection with HMS Engadine which was an ex Channel Ferry converted to a Flying Boat Carrier in the 1914-1918 War; and that is how she came to be so called? I know that Oswald King had begun his hire business, by 1927, with his ‘Golden Dawn’ class yachts; of which there were eventually four and another cruiser the ‘Eclipse’. Eventually though all the cruisers he built had names containing ‘Dawn’ (e.g. Silver Dawn, Crimson Dawn etc.) and when the business was sold in the late 1950’s it was renamed ‘Dawn Craft’ by the new owners. 

Just coming into the picture, from the right, is a cruiser from the famous yard of Ernest Collins and Sons of Wroxham and Hoveton. She is of the ‘Tuscan’ class; a group of four 30ft Motor cruisers which were first in hire from 1930. They were built to Collins’ exacting standards and (like many at the time) their hull lines were not dissimilar to the yachts of the day. In fact until 1962/3 these were the only motor cruisers offered by Ernest Collins   who was a time served wherry builder and one who showed a strong preference for the days of sail. Eventually in 1965 the ‘Golden Emblem’ class was introduced and a new era was born at the Collins yard.   

The last cruiser in view is a launch style craft with a covered but otherwise open-well forward similar to the older Steam Launches. She most closely resembles the ‘Rajah’ and ‘Sirdar’ class from Herbert Banham at Horning Staithe but it is not possible to be certain of her identity. Similar designs were also available from other fleets. Principally those of Leo Robinson, Herbert Hipperson and Charles Broom but I am unable to make a positive identification in this instance.

               Advertisement by Oswald King, showing 'Golden Dawn' in the 1927 Jarrolds Publication:                                                              '100 Pictures of the Norfolk Broads' 

                                     Card of the Month - November 2019

Moving on from last month’s article: here’s a nice real-photographic postcard of the old Weybridge at Acle; taken from roughly the same spot as last month’s cards but rather earlier as it is known to be  1905; or before because it was included in a book of that year. This is the single-lane road bridge that was in place until 1931 when it was replaced by the well-remembered single span, two lane, bridge. Then, in 1997, that later bridge was itself replaced to cope with the higher levels of modern day traffic and the ever heavier goods vehicles. As I write this I cannot help reflecting that each new generation of Acle bridge has been less picturesque and more functional than its predecessor and that those who visited the Broads for the first time in the last twenty years, or so, won’t even remember the elegant single span bridge that stood here for sixty odd years?

Clearly this view is looking in the opposite direction to the H. Coates card 2870 (below) but this example was published by Jarrold’s of Norwich. Experience has taught me that cards with serial numbers like the one above (i.e. J.4140.) were published by Jarrold’s. Sometimes their own trade mark was included, on the back, but just as often it was not. Their ‘Gray’s Series’ was one of quite a number of collections published on behalf of local retailers whose businesses were usually involved to some degree in catering for the holiday trade, particularly the boating visitors. These cards would generally show scenes in the vicinity of that retailer’s business; to appeal to their own visiting customers. The most famous of these series would be that of Roy’s of Wroxham but there were a good many other local shops who enjoyed the same service; several of which are mentioned elsewhere around this web-site. 

E.J. Gray was a Baker and General Grocer whose premises were on New Road in Acle village. They also had riverside stores on both banks of the River Bure at Acle Bridge. They offered provisioning for yachts and operated a motor launch that would deliver supplies and Newspapers directly to boaters moored near Acle. Clearly this was the business of which at least part was later taken over, in the 1930’s, by the Curtis family who ran several stores around the Broads area, including the Bridge Stores at Acle, the shop at Thurne Staithe and their own motor launch service with the well-known working boat ‘Our Boys’. 

Clearly there are several Wherries out of sight below the bridge but my eye is drawn to the Pleasure Wherry emerging from the centre arch of the old bridge. We can rarely be certain when identifying these craft but I am fairly comfortable in suggesting that this is the famous ‘Hathor’ built for the Colman sisters by Daniel Hall of Reedham and launched in 1902. Her white mast top can be clearly seen, lying on the cabin top and her very attractive sheerline with a hint of reverse sheer at the foredeck clinch it for me. Her crew are making ready to raise the mast and sail off again but I wonder if they have pushed her through the bridge with the tender. ‘Hathor’ had no engine and I cannot see anyone still quanting her through; although perhaps the tide was helping as well? 

In case you’re wondering, the red and blue diamond pattern doesn’t seem to have been present on Hathor’s mast top in her early days. ‘Hathor’ changed ownership a few times during her life but she has been restored and still sails with the Wherry Yacht Charter Co. at Wroxham to this day; so if you fancy a trip.

                              Card of the Month - October 2019


There are two fine photographic cards, for the price of one, this month and they’re both from a favourite publisher of mine! These are from the ‘Nene Series’ by H. Coates of Wisbech and a little more about this firm can be found below with the ‘Card of the Month’ for March 2018. I have four cards in this sequence, nos. 2267 - 2271, but I am missing no. 2268 which I guess must belong to this same group? It is evident that all were photographed on the same occasion and although the pictures are all taken from slightly different viewpoints several boats can be seen in more than one photograph. I will continue to keep an eye open for more and, in particular, it would be nice to find one with the old Weybridge in view; always supposing it had not been replaced by then? Officially the hamlet at Acle bridge is known as Weybridge and was named for the Medieval Priory that was located just downstream of the Bridge Inn; as we know it today. The Weybridge was replaced by the first single span bridge in 1931.

So what we have here are pictures of Acle Regatta taking place on Fishley Mill Reach just above Acle Bridge and I think about 1930. Possibly even a little earlier? This event has taken place here, on the Bure, for over 100 years and continues to the present day. These days the regatta usually takes place in May and it is predominantly racing for the River Cruiser class yachts. It is organised by the Acle Sailing Club and has long been a popular event; in part because of the quieter and wider reaches hereabouts, I’m sure. I don’t think the club has an official base or home club house address but contact details can be found through the Broads Boating Company, at Acle Bridge, or the club’s Facebook page. The club’s FB Cover Picture is not too dissimilar to postcard 2870, above, but it is actually a fine watercolour painted by Frank Southgate for the first edition of William Dutt’s famous book ‘The Norfolk Broads’ in 1903. In fact Frank Southgate (1873 -1916) was more famous for his ornithological illustrations; examples of which also appear in the same book. He was from Hunstanton in north Norfolk and as far as I know was not related to the Southgate boatbuilding families based at Stalham and Horning. Some of his colour illustrations were also made available as postcards by the book’s publishers, Methuen & Company. I do have a 1905 edition of the book but the image below is scanned from my copy of the postcard which provides a slightly better reproduction of the original.

Incidentally the burgee flying on what looks like a pleasure wherry in the foreground appears to be that of the original Yare Sailing Club; which was amalgamated with the Bure Sailing Club a few years later. In that case there is every likelihood that this was their Committee Boat and that the vessel was  fulfilling her usual role as hospitality boat for that club's members at this event? More information about this boat (and photos of her at Horning and Oulton Broad) can be found on the 'Extras' page within the Bell's of Westcliff-on-Sea article.


I like the two photographs because, to me, they are very atmospheric and evocative of their era. So much so that I almost feel as if I am standing there too, just out of the camera’s view! The most prominent boat is obviously ‘Leda’ and she appears in both pictures. She is dressed overall and flying the Acle Sailing Club flag, at her bows and a similar pennant at the top of her flag staff, just for good measure. I don’t get the impression that she is the committee boat because I see no class flags and the smaller yacht, astern of her, is similarly dressed. Based on the trim of the two Norfolk Punts, sailing by, it appears to me that she is moored near the leeward mark and the start line is more likely further upstream? I do not know anything specific about ‘Leda’ but I would say that she closely resembles the motor cruisers marketed for private owners by C.J. Broom of Brundall in the 1930’s. These were advertised as their ‘Standard 35ft’ cruisers and as being equally suitable for Broads or Coastal Cruising. ‘Leda’ certainly gives me that impression although her wheelhouse is rather taller than standard.

Of course, It would be very remiss of me not to mention the Dutch Barge moored opposite. I don’t mind admitting that I am not really that familiar with these craft. She could be a Lemsteraak Jacht, a Tjalk or given the rake of her bows maybe a Hoogaar? In fact there were many regional variations of these flat bottomed barges. Subtle differences were largely dependent on their original working purpose or the nature of their home waters. Some were used for fishing and some for carrying cargoes around the inland waterways of Holland; much like the wherries of Norfolk. Others were used on the coast and those might have more rounded bilges to help them cut through the waves more easily. Even the latter were flat bottomed and lacking a deep keel they employed Lee Boards to aid windward sailing just like our own ‘Thames’ barges. Their rudders could also be raised to facilitate beaching. The boats were often ‘Cutter’ rigged and employed a long bowsprit, which usually pointed skywards at an angle of about 45 degrees; to accommodate the staysails. That cannot be seen in this picture but her high forestay is just distinguishable above the larger flag. 

It is my impression that this particular boat was regularly moored at this location and I have seen several postcards by the Francis Frith company in which she also appears. The Frith company attributes these to circa 1929 and that fits well to my estimate - my card’s postmark proves it is no later than 1932. Frith’s photographic archive is still available for reproduction purchases today but unfortunately not all records of picture chronology etc. survive, hence the element of estimation in their attribution.

Acle Sailing Club’s Face Book Page contains mention of one frequent visitor: Mr James Mc Bey who owned just such a Dutch craft, named ‘Esna’, and I think it more than likely that the boat in our picture is one and the same. The name of this barge seems appropriate because James Mc Bey (1883 - 1959) was an Official War Artist during the 1914 -1918 War working in Egypt and Palestine. He later became a quite famous and successful portrait artist. Apparently it was around 1920 when he also painted a scene from the Acle regatta. Which, unfortunately, is now in private hands and not available for public viewing. About the same time as the photographs were taken the artist met his wife to-be in America, they married and in 1932 bought a home near Tangier, Morocco and settled there until the outbreak of the 1939 -1945 War when the couple repaired to the United States for the duration. After returning to Morocco Mr Mc. Bey passed away there in 1959. 

Card of the Month - September 2019

Here’s another card from my “just because I like it” collection. It is another by J. Salmon Ltd. and makes a good pairing with the similar ‘Card of the Month’ for last May.  This is almost precisely the opposite view to that earlier card. It is, most likely viewed from the first floor of the Wherry Hotel and you can clearly see the jetty with the white railings, that is the focal point of the card for May. I do feel that the composition of this group is rather better than its predecessor; the eye is lead straight to the gentlemen, and one lady, who are grouped around the cabin cruiser. Although I don’t imagine either group has been deliberately posed by the photographer? I would estimate the vintage of this card to be around 1930 or late 1920’s too and it also features some more folks that appear to be quite well-to-do if their turnout is anything to go by? Some of the children could even have been present in the previous group but the card serial numbers are not so close together that they suggest the photographs were taken on the same day. It does seem highly likely that both pictures were taken by the same photographer. Perhaps that person even had a connection to the people in the view? 

I suspect that this photograph was taken in the evening time because it is looking to the west and the subjects in the foreground are in partial silhouette; suggesting that the sun is low in the sky. Unfortunately that has reduced the amount of detail that we can see and which might have helped clarify more features. It is for this reason that, at first glance, the boat looks like a sort of working craft or lighter but more careful examination reveals that it is a raised deck-head, aft cockpit cabin cruiser with portholes along her topsides and windows let into her raised headroom. She is of sturdy construction and has high freeboard and low bulwarks which suggests to me that she is privately owned and has some sea-keeping ability? It is not possible to be certain but it may well be that her owners are replenishing their fuel supply with Pratt’s Motor Spirit from the waterside pump; at least two of the people present appear to be boatmen. The presence of this trade mark (and the lack of Yacht Station) both help to confirm that this view was captured before1935. Since the product was marketed by the Anglo American Oil Co. and was rebranded as the much more familiar (nowadays) ‘ESSO’ in 1935; to bring it in line with their established American brands. I can’t help observing that a collector of Automobilia would give a pretty penny for such an antique today?

There are at least two more features of interest in this view. Firstly the car is a Bentley, probably a Speed Six drophead coupe of 1926-1930 vintage or possibly its 3 Litre predecessor? At this time Bentley cars were very much your gentleman’s sporting motor; made famous, I’m sure, by winning the Le-Mans 24 Hour race five times up to 1930. The company was bought up by Rolls-Royce in 1931 and much more recently became part of the Volkswagon group but this is what a Bentley looked like in the days of W.O. Bentley himself. 

Never mind about all that though; let’s not forget that this is a boating web-site really. Just about to sail out of the view is a ‘Brown Boat’ officially a Broads One Design or B.O.D. This is a racing class of day boat that originated at the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club of Lowestoft and went on to be adopted by several other clubs in the Broadland area. Class races for Brown Boats are principally held at Oulton Broad, Wroxham Broad and on tidal courses outside Lowestoft harbour; to this day and the latest examples are built in GRP. The craft seen here is number 21 ‘Harlequin’ which at the time would have been owned by the Radcliffe family who had a holiday home at Oulton Broad. She came to that family when she was bought by Dr. Walter Radcliffe in 1926 and was gifted to his daughter, Rhoda, on the occasion of her 21st Birthday; in 1928. (* please see below) It intrigues me to speculate that it might be Miss Radcliffe at the helm here? All of the Brown Boats are named after birds that are connected to waterside environments. A Harlequin is a very decorative type of marine duck which is not really native to Great Britain but I doubt that fact is a breach of the class naming rules?

A final observation is that it seems quiet on Oulton Broad on that evening so long ago. Maybe it was late in the season? There are three large yachts moored where the Yacht station is today and they all have their fore-peak awnings rigged which suggests they are skippered cruises because those awnings would cover the crew’s quarters; in that part of the vessel. Of course, in this era, skippered cruises were the norm and even an option in some smaller yachts.  I am not sure about the little building near to the yachts but that is possibly the location of the office of the small boat letting operation that rented out rowing and sailing boats to day trippers; between the wars. Please see the Spashett & Co, of Lowestoft cards on the ‘Extras’ page.  

* I am grateful to the late Mr Charles Goodey and his 1972 work "The Brown Boats" for this information.
Card of the Month - August 2019


This is an intriguing card which has the appearance of a ‘Photochrom’ printed economy-edition but it was published anonymously so I cannot be certain of any attribution. The fascination for me is the cruiser emerging from Potter Heigham Bridge. First of all: just look how much clearance she has! Clearly water levels have risen considerably since the 1930’s when this picture was taken. When I first visited the Broads, in the late 1950’s, hirers were required to take a pilot to navigate this bridge and this was a free service provided by both Blake's and Hoseason's. Virtually all the hire boats could pass under and I don’t ever remember being refused or having to wait for lower tidal levels. At the same time there was no need at all for a pilot at Wroxham and I’m sure most boaters were not intimidated by making the passage upstream to Coltishall under their own steam. I’m just saying!


In any event it wasn’t just the air draft which fascinated me about this boat. She is ‘Miss Catfield’ a privately owned ‘Woods 32’ similar to Herbert Woods’ ‘Dancing Light’ class, the latter of which were built for hire from the early 1930’s. Frankly, I doubt that I could have identified this boat were it not for another card, by Jarrolds, which I have in my collection. In this picture (above) you can discern a mast and tabernacle on the foredeck which is actually a flagstaff. It is a rather taller than your average flagstaff, complete with cross trees, and I think that ‘Miss Catfield’ probably performed the duties of a committee boat at local regattas. Since the boat was privately owned I have no archive of her ownership. If I were to hazard a guess I might suggest the Riches family who were Corn Merchants, Farmers and Wherry owners from Catfield near Hickling. (See the Bell Photo article 'Hickling Dyke' on the ‘Extras’ page) Perhaps that is William Riches at the helm? Although I must say that is pure speculation on my part! My other postcard shows ‘Miss Catfield’ spectating at the Potter Heigham regatta and given the standard of dress both onboard and amongst the folk on the bridge, in this picture, perhaps that is also the purpose of their visit on this occasion?


Upstream of the bridge we can just make out that the large boat shed (often known as the pink shed) is occupied by George Applegate Jnr. who also had premises just downstream. The ramshackle building in front of us used to be occupied by George Applegate Senior. and it was from this building, which became known as the Peggoty House, that George founded his boat hire business. Principally renting out rowing and sailing boats in the beginning. The presence and condition of this building suggests that this picture dates from just before the 1939-45 War. The Peggoty house was demolished during that conflict although, I should stress, I don’t believe that was a result of enemy action.    

Card of the Month - July 2019


This card appears similar to those of the post-war Bell Photo Company series although it was anonymously published. Bell’s used a variety of photo papers and quite a lot of cards did not carry their trade mark. Nevertheless many are easily identified as the products of that company but, in this case, it is not possible to be absolutely certain. Does it matter? Not to me, really. It’s a great photograph and easily up to that company’s standards.


Based upon the boats, and one car, present in the picture I would say that this photograph dates from around 1960. In the centre of the picture is ‘Foxglove’ a four berth cabin cruiser that was built in 1954/5 at Eastick’s Yacht Station; which was situated at the entrance to Acle Dyke. J.W. Eastick founded this yard around 1910 with a few yachts including a famous pleasure wherry (Red Rover) and the first yachts to be built in-house appeared in 1912 and 1913. The yard expanded between the Wars and there are indications of a management change in 1937/8 when the fleet consisted of ten yachts and a dozen cabin cruisers. It seems that this yard’s fleet  suffered as much depletion as any during the 1939-1945 World War and the 1947/8 lists were down to only seven boats. As usual this led to the construction of many new boats in the post war years and ‘Foxglove’ and her sister ‘Meadow Sweet’ were completed in time for the 1955 season. By 1960 Eastick’s had gone on to build a further eight examples of this class. They were all named after flowers of the field and they all displayed the distinctive two tone pastel livery of White (or light grey) and Pale Blue; which was also employed on several other original designs from this era at the yard.  After 1965 the whole fleet was dispersed and all of these post war boats were absorbed into the Herbert Woods fleet at Potter Heigham. Just one or two Foxglove class boats survived in-hire until the early 1980’s, principally back in Acle at Anchor Craft.


At the Rising Sun moorings are two more cabin cruisers which are correct for the year I have suggested. At first the larger varnished boat reminded me of the fleet from Ferry Boatyard at Horning but after careful examination I believe that she is ‘Shenandoah’ from the Faircraft yard at Acle. The 30ft. four berth ‘Shenandoah’ was slightly unusual in that she had internal forward steerage but could also be helmed from her small rear cockpit. Faircraft were established at Hoveton from 1958 but they also had premises at Acle Bridge in the early 1960’s. The Acle yard, including its fleet of at least nine cabin cruisers, all of which had names beginning with “Sh..”, became known as Alan Johnson Boats; after 1965. The name of Faircraft went on to become well-known in the Hoveton boat hire industry, and survives to this day as Faircraft Loynes.        


The other boat we can see, with the white hull, is perhaps even less well remembered than ‘Shenandoah’ because her life as a hire cruiser was relatively short. She is ‘Sunflower’ from the yard of Porter & Haylett at Wroxham. Now maybe those in the know will say “Hang on a minute….didn’t Porter & Haylett boats all have names ending in ‘line’ like ‘Emiline’ or ‘Kimiline’ et al?” Well yes that is true but the practice did not include the whole fleet when the company was in its infancy; during the late 1950’s. In 1957 the partners had around eight boats including ‘Margaret Rose’, ‘Blue Wings’ and ‘Sunflower’. Early builds included ‘Maroline’ and ‘Maid Pauline’ which I feel were the first examples of the fleet’s names that carried that suffix. ‘Maroline’ was reminiscent of the Landamore ‘Vesta’ class which Ernie Porter had worked on before starting his own business along with Rex Haylett; above Wroxham Bridge. The ‘Sunflower’ we see here was replaced, by 1962, with two new boats: ‘Sunestra’ and ‘Sunelda’ which were improved but similar in appearance. A few years later the name ‘Sunflower’ was used again for another two boats. These were similar in style but now featured the livery that became the fleet standard: off white hull, coffee coloured boot top and varnished topsides. They were larger than the original ‘Sunflowers’ and featured a more modern interior layout with a permanently made up double bed in the aft cabin.


Oh and that car? It’s a Mark II Ford Zodiac. In its day a top of the range, 2.5 Litre, Saloon with a Straight Six motor. This model was in production from 1956 to 1962.

Card of the Month - June 2019


This month’s offering comes from my small selection of 1920’s Real Photographic cards by Donlion Productions of Doncaster. I know very little of this company except to say that it was probably connected to Charles Jamson who also marketed cards trademarked Empire View Productions, Doncaster and that they also produced postcards of Yorkshire and the Peak District etc. I have found a few from the Broads which all show scenes of Horning around 1926. Apart from this card and a nice one of the Ferry they are all views of the Swan Hotel, taken from the moorings opposite. I have found no examples of scenes from elsewhere on the Broads nor have I found any record of this company since that decade.


In this view I was interested by the Yacht and my initial impression was that she had the look of a Percy Hunter design; perhaps there was good reason for that? Of course it doesn’t take too long to recall that the Hunter Fleet had not yet been founded in 1927 (the year this card was posted) and that the yacht’s burgee is that of George Applegate at Potter Heigham. With this in mind, I would say that this must be ‘Brownie’ a 3 berth Gaff Sloop built in Mahogany, in 1923, at Applegate’s yard, and not too dissimilar to a Hunter ‘Wood’ class in size or layout. A second example was built a few years later but most of the Applegate yachts had their hulls finished in, the more usual, white enamel at the time.


When we remember that, up until 1932, Percy Hunter was the manager at Applegate’s along with his two sons Cyril and Stanley things may seem to make sense. The brothers had been training as Boatbuilders at Applegate’s but in 1932 their own family firm ‘Percy Hunter & Sons’ was set up. In that year they opened their (now famous) yard at Horsefen Road, Ludham. It seems, to me, quite likely that ‘Brownie’ had been built by Percy Hunter or, at least, her lines could have been the basis for the new boats? The first yachts built, that year, were the 4 berths ‘Lustre’ and ‘Lullaby’, which were similar in some ways to Applegate’s new ‘Shearwater’ class, and ‘Woodruff’ the first of the six 3 berth ‘Wood’ class yachts. In view of the time constraints it was arranged for ‘Woodruff’ to be built by Alfred Pegg at Hoveton and she is probably the only original yacht that doesn’t remain in the fleet to this day? The following year another 4 berth ‘Luna’ was built and by 1938 two more ‘Wood’ class yachts and four ‘Hustlers’ had been built. After the War another two ‘Wood’ class yachts and ‘Hustler 5’ had joined the cabin-yacht fleet and that was how it remained until 2006 when ‘Lucent’ was completed; in time for the following season. The first new Hunter cabin-yacht in more than fifty years! More comment on Hunter’s Yard, and the eventual fate of Woodruff, can be found on the River Ant page of this website.  


The little ‘Smock’ drainage pump, also known as Horning Ferry Mill, in the background was replaced in 1935 by the landmark white mill we all know today. The original was a working structure that kept the marshy land thereabouts dry but, like so many, it eventually fell into disuse. In its day this was a popular mooring place and seemingly as much photographed as the later pseudo mill cottage is today. In the early 1930’s the land here was re-developed by the entrepreneur A. L. Rhodes as ‘The Pyramids’ a collection of waterside properties and holiday homes. The building work was carried out by H.P. Neave from Catfield who was regularly engaged in such works in the Broadland area. Mr Rhodes who hailed from Doncaster (coincidentally) and also had interests in the Cinema business was one of those unfortunates who were killed in 1941 when the Luftwaffe impulsively bombed the Horning Ferry Inn. 

Card of the Month - May 2019



Any visitors who prefer the pictures to my usual ramblings will be enjoying a bit of a break (like me) this month because I haven’t got an awful lot to say about this month’s card. I’m sharing it just because I find the scene utterly charming rather than its providing much in the way of significant boating content. Once more this is a real photo card by J. Salmon but this time it is somewhat earlier than the 1950’s examples I have been sharing up to date.


I am going to suggest that this scene was pictured around 1930 but it could even be a little earlier. The biggest clues are the delightful Cloche hats worn by the very well dressed and (seemingly) charming children and the absence of Yacht Station pontoons; which were installed around 1935. The boys and girls seem to be a group and I like to imagine that they have arrived here in the smart, clipper sterned, launch with her equally smart crew. Perhaps they are a well-to-do family that have arrived here by launch from one of the large houses on the Northern shore or a Pleasure Wherry Party anchored on the broad; here to enjoy a frolic in Everitt Park? Could it be that big brother is feigning disinterest in the photographer (obviously he’s way too cool) but little brother is too young to be paying attention anyway? It should go without saying, I know, but obviously it’s all in my head really! 

Just as a punt: When I first looked at the little yacht I believed that I recognised her as ‘Peony’ from Fred Miller’s ‘Old Mill House’ yard at Commodore Road; which can just be seen in the background. Centre-Left. Then I realised that ‘Peony’ was originally una-rigged and that this is more likely one of her sister ‘Aconite’ class; which were similar in most regards but sloop rigged. 

                                       Card of the Month - April 2019

Although I only have a small number of cards from this 1950’s ‘real photo’ series, by J. Salmon of Sevenoaks, they have proven a rich source of subject matter for this ‘Card of the Month’ feature. Probably none more so than this cornucopia of period wooden craft? The card was posted by a holidaymaker in August 1957 and that is significant because it is the year that the second floor of the extension was completed at the Swan Hotel. Just look how new it appears in this picture?


So looking at the boats from left to right we start off with a little bit of a quandary. The partial view of a cabin cruiser moored (left of picture) opposite the Swan is one of the new Windboats built in the early 1950’s at Graham Bunn’s yard in Wroxham. The cruiser making her way downstream in the centre of the picture is also from that same fleet. At the time there were about sixteen of these boats in their hire fleet and others in private ownership. They came in several versions ranging from the 32ft ‘Westwind’ and the 33ft ‘Merrywind’ class to the 39ft ‘Fairwind’ and ‘Finewind’ classes. The latter were virtually identical apart from an extra berth in the centre cabin. Outwardly all these boats looked very much the same and so positive identification from a little picture like this is rarely achievable. My impression is that these boats are from the smaller classes so with those caveats I will suggest that they are from the popular ‘Merrywind’ class.


Quite often I can’t be certain of the identity of a yacht but this time I am reasonably confident that this example is a ‘Reverie’ class; and she is flying the burgee of Chumley & Hawke. Their yard was located a little further downstream from here but above the Ferry. The original 20ft ‘Reverie’ was built by Fred Press in the late 1930’s but he retired when the 2nd World War led to the closure of the rivers for the duration. Several of his yachts made their way into the Horning fleet and I believe that more yachts of the ‘Reverie’ class were built by Chumley & Hawke. Several of these ‘Reverie’ class yachts remained in-hire until the late 1970’s; latterly at Eastwood Whelpton of Upton.   


The three smaller, white hulled, cruisers are quite easily identified so I will finish off with them, in a moment. Hopefully visitors will trust me on the identification of the varnished cruiser which can just be seen moored to the rear of the Windboat which is in mid-stream; because I have the advantage of studying the original postcard. She is one of Fred Newson’s new, three strong, ‘Autumn Leaves’ class from Oulton Broad. In the 1950’s many new boats were finished with varnished hull planking to show off the quality of the timber used. After a few years in hire it was common to save costs, when refurbishing the hull, by painting over any battle scars. Consequently, by the early 1960’s these boats had been painted in the more recognisable F. Newson colours of White Hull with an Orange/Red boot top and Varnished superstructure. We should bear in mind that it may be that two of these boats were built for F.B. Wilds of Horning as they had two seemingly identical boats at the same time. Nevertheless the life belt fitted to the well coaming, as seen here, was a feature of the Newson boats in this class.


Taking the last three from left to right: First we have ‘Vestina’, Landamore’s smaller cruiser; of which six examples were built between 1953 and 1958. The boats were constructed to Landamore’s usual high standards and had the distinctive features of forward engine placement and an inspection hatch for the propeller. Handy if you had a fouled propeller or had even lost it all together. It happens! I know but I’m not saying how I know? Most of Landamore’s hire fleet were new or rebuilt after the 1939-45 War but the firm disposed of them all around 1968; to pursue other business plans.


Next comes another Hoveton boat: ‘Sable’ one of a class of three boats from George Smith and Sons. I am not sure where these boats were built (This firm usually bought-in their new boats) but the first example had an open cockpit forward; like the contemporary ‘Sheerline’ class from Chumley & Hawke. In the two later boats the deck-head was extended to afford the steerage area permanent weather protection; whilst ‘Sable 1’ had to rely upon a canvas awning. By the way, the name ’Sable’ had been used earlier by George Smith for one of his first ever self-drive motor cruisers. She is believed to have been built in the 1920’s by Herbert Banham at Horning and was an aft cockpit vessel, typical of her day, and built very much on yacht like hull lines.


Finally: A personal favourite in retrospect. By retrospect I mean that when I was a youngster I would have regarded these boats as old fashioned or ‘antwacky’ as the scousers would say! I was all for the newer boat designs of the day then but nowadays I am much more enamoured of the older designs and love to see them preserved. This is a Herbert Woods’ ‘Delight’ class; and a more aptly named boat would be a struggle for me to recall. The first of these boats were built in 1930 and, in all, twelve examples were in hire by 1936/7. Unusually, the class was divided into two groups based upon whether their class number was odd or even. Odd numbered boats had two single bunks laid down each side of the saloon whereas even numbered boats had one bunk set athwartships (across) the boat near the stern giving more open floor space in that cabin. Unfortunately fleet modernisation resulted in the dispersal of these boats by about 1970. Some went into private ownership and a handful of individuals went to other yards; briefly. Several were moved away from the Broads and nowadays I only know, for sure, of one example that is still sailing there. She is ‘Water Rail’ (Delight VII) a lovingly restored example which is available for charter from Little Ships at Horning. If you would like to know more about the ‘Delight’ class they are referred to on several occasions within this website and full particulars can be found on the River Bure page at Horning.

Card of the Month - March 2019

                                                                                                                                       A Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd. Postcard


These days it is rare for me to buy a ‘printed’ postcard, as opposed to real photographic examples, but I made an exception in this case because I liked the view so much. I thought it made an excellent subject for this series and was probably rare because I have never seen another example. The postcard is by Raphael Tuck so it is quite possible they also produced a ‘real photo’ version at the same time? Tuck were one of several publishers that sold different editions of their postcards. Monochrome ‘Photogravure Printed’ cards, such as this, would be marketed as their less expensive ‘Economy’ editions.


However this is a pre-WW2 scene and since the London premises of Raphael Tuck & Sons were completely destroyed in the Blitz we may never find any more examples. This particular card was posted in late 1939 just around the time of the outbreak of World War 2 but really, judging by its content, the photograph could have been taken as early as 1932.


Anyone who is familiar with the southern broads will probably recognise this location right away; but maybe only those of a certain age will remember the boatyard, as we see it here? It is clear from the signage above the boat shed (and the card’s title) this is Johnson’s Yacht Station at St Olaves. I’m not sure exactly when the business commenced but Walter G. Johnson was certainly established here before the 1st World War and the first record of him as a member of Harry Blake’s Association, in my possession, was for 1916. Until the end of the Second World War Blake’s always referred to the business as W.G. Johnson or W.G. Johnson & Son. The son was also named Walter as far as I know. However this view shows that the premises were referred to as Johnson’s Yacht Station as early as the 1930’s whereas Blakes did not get around to this until the 1950’s. The Johnsons traded here until the late 1980’s not only at the Yacht Station but, at least for part of that time, also at Johnson’s Stores; which can be seen in this picture. It is the thatched building on the other side of the bridge but I think that the Bridge Stores may have been in different ownership after the 1939-45 World War. Another card with a closer view of the store can be found (below) in the ‘Card of the Month’ article for November 2017. In 1926 the Johnsons advertised their Stores at “Ye Olde Thatched Cottage - St. Olaves Bridge” in the Blakes brochure promising that W. G. Johnson & Son would be pleased to provide visitors with freely given advice as to the best time to leave St. Olaves in order to get through Gt. Yarmouth, on the right tide. Adding as a foot note the exhortation to “Patronize The Firm Who Helps You”. Perhaps suggesting that the italicised reference is some sort of implication about their competition?


The Johnson fleet changed little over the years until a modernisation took place in the 1970’s which I took to indicate that Walter Johnson Jnr. retired about this time; he would have been the right sort of age by then and, I presume, that was when his son Barry Johnson took the reins; he kept the firm up until the late 1980’s when the business was sold. The boats in this picture both date from the 1930’s. ‘Nebula’ built in 1930 and ‘Cirrus’ 1 & 2 were built in 1931 and 1932. A third ‘Cirrus’ joined the fleet a couple of years later. Clearly Walter Johnson had an interest in astronomy or, at least, meteorology because all the boats were given names that referred to cloud formations; either earthly or astral in nature. ‘Nebula’ was 28ft with berths for five people. The raised deckhead fore cabin contained a single berth which the designer may have originally intended for an attendant but the boat was not advertised with this option. She had single level flooring (no bridge deck), central steering and offered the benefit of a weed hatch so that a fouled propeller could be cleared from inside the cabin; to obvious advantage. ‘Nebula’ was typical of her times, displaying the transition from the launch style cruisers, which developed from the steam launches, but with a cabin built over the space forward. That area would have been open to the elements in the earlier craft.  


The 20ft ‘Cirrus’ class were a bit more modern than their larger sister and featured steerage in an aft cockpit and three berths in a cabin with raised superstructure. As far as can be told this is ‘Cirrus 2’, in the foreground, and another of the ‘Cirrus’ class can be seen astern of ‘Nebula’. This class also had the benefit of a weed hatch so I infer that this was a feature that the Johnsons saw as a real advantage; who would disagree? The ‘Cirrus’ style still retained a small rise in the deck forward, over the private facilities in this case, and was very similar in appearance to other classes being built at Oulton Broad at the time; notably those by Fred Miller.

The large cabin cruiser on the opposite bank reminds me of H.T. Percival’s ‘Desiree’ but boats of this design type are always difficult (usually too few distinguishing features) and a positive identification at this scale would never really be reliable.

Card of the Month – February 2019

Horsey Dyke looking towards the bend, and with the Wind Pump just out of picture to the right. If you look carefully the end of one its sails is just visible near the white boat’s mast. The original image is still listed in Francis Frith’s Archive and it shows that the postcard has been cropped on the right hand side. A bit of a shame really; it would have been much easier to orientate the view with the mill in clear view. I have no key to the post-war index numbers, such as this, but judging from the yachts and the cygnets it’s late spring or early summer in the 1950’s. In fact both of the nearby yachts date from the early 1950’s and the nearest boat was subject to a facelift after the 1964 season when the yard’s whole fleet was painted in a new white, pastel grey and light blue livery. A fact that suggests to me that there was a change of management at the boatyard at that time?


Nine cygnets is a fair sized brood so we can assume that this is a pair of mature and experienced breeding Swans. Somehow though, despite the boys sitting in their tee shirts, it still looks a bit cold to me. Both of these yachts have just two berths so I am presuming that the group on the middle yacht is a meeting of both crews. Perhaps discussing the day’s itinerary or maybe just being sociable as people often are in these relaxed surroundings? It’s hard to say whether the crews are preparing to settle down for the night or getting ready to set sail for the new day?


The two adjacent yachts are distinctive in that they are both designed with greater headroom than the generic Broads yachts, with their lifting cabin tops might? This is certainly true in the case of the nearest boat which, I would say, is in many ways a compromise. She is a motor-sailor rather than a performance sailing yacht but she also has a raising portion of her cabin roof. The rigid central portion of her cabin roof gave a full six foot of headroom in the saloon. However it is a fact that this amount of headroom would be available in many generic yachts but when sailing the latter would have very little, or no, headroom below. The convenience of the mainly fixed roof alleviated the need to lift the top just to pop below but the downside was the increased windage when sailing and yachts like the nearest could display an inconvenient amount of leeway when sailing on the wind. That is when the boat is moving sideways, too much, rather than making good progress upwind. Nevertheless yachts like this might appeal to new sailors who saw a more spacious interior as desirable? At least that was the theory but I don’t believe yachts like this proved to be very popular. This particular example is ‘Moss Rose’ (or one of her two sisters) from Eastick’s Yacht Station at Acle Dyke. An outwardly similar but slightly larger class of 3 Berth yachts (‘Goldfinch’) was also available briefly from Leo Robinson & Son at Oulton Broad; in the late 1950’s, but the latter did not even have engines so I have to wonder; what was the point?


Very near to Robinson’s at Oulton Broad was the base of the second yacht which is instantly recognisable as a design by A. D. Truman and this class also featured fixed cabin tops. Albeit not as exaggerated as in the Eastick boat’s case. There were around nine Truman yachts that were outwardly similar to this example. Initially finished with varnished hulls, as above, they were known as the ‘Fantasy’ class. There was one more higher performance example ‘Vanity’ which, despite finer dimensions, remained very similar in appearance. In later seasons two more yachts were built and after a facelift, which included the painting of their hulls white, some of the yachts were re-named as the ‘Argosy’, ‘Extasy’ and ‘Odyssey’ classes. Headroom in the Truman yachts was only 4’ 9” so leeway would not be such an issue but they had hatches in their roof tops that allowed full standing under the awning, at night. Both the classes of yacht seen here had auxiliary engines and lightweight masts that were lowered by a winch on deck rather than the counterweight system typically used on conventional Broads yachts. Unusually (maybe uniquely) the Truman yachts had a double bed on the centre line of the boat that folded back into a rearward facing settee during the day; rather than the normal arrangement of single berths on either side of the boat. I rather liked that idea!


Also uniquely amongst the modern Broads yachts was the larger, but similarly styled, ‘Calypso’ class which with an additional three foot in length and one foot extra beam contrived to provide a centre cockpit and a two berth cabin aft. Consequently the well was quite a lot smaller than in normal yachts so I suppose that these yachts were more suitable for young families than crews of four adults? I’m not sure how the steering was arranged; a wheel would make sense but I think they still used a tiller? A ‘Calypso’ can be seen at the start of the River Ant page. 


Finally we have a craft that very much fits the description of a generic Broads yacht. So much so that I could not venture to identify her with any real justification. Her varnished finish, cambered roof line and forward facing scuttles would make a match for a good many classes from Wroxham and Horning. She looks quite a bulky yacht with substantial freeboard so one might guess that she is from the Banham ‘Speedwell’ class or a Powles ’Dragonfly’ type. I can’t suggest more than that. There were half a dozen similar classes from the yards of Banham, Powles and Collins.

                                            Card of the Month – January 2019

My first offering for the new year is a high quality and nicely animated card, from J. Valentine & Sons, looking towards Ludham Bridge from upstream, on the River Ant, in 1938. Eighty years ago as I write! Can you believe it? It is also two for the price of one so I hope you like them both!  


The following year, A. L. Parkinson’s ivy laden waterside shop, opposite, was closed down by the War Office, to make way for their strategic defences at the bridge. The roadside Ludham Bridge Stores was a typical Broadland outlet for everything the holiday maker (from Angler to Yachtsman) might require, and survives to this day. Before the War there was also a waterside branch of this shop below the bridge. (This can be seen in the Card for May 2017 below) Beyond the Bridge Stores’ roof, the sails and fantail of Ludham Bridge (South) Drainage Mill, can be seen. This was probably much better known as Beaumont’s Mill since, for most of the early 20th Century, the incumbent was one Charles Beaumont. Sadly, but like many another, the wind pump fell into disrepair and disuse after the War and was demolished in the early 1960’s.  Below: the previous card in this sequence, seen from almost exactly the opposite direction, shows a close up view of the mill. Passing by in the second view is the same yacht that can be partially seen opposite here. I believe that this is one of Chumley & Hawke’s ‘Clipper’ class. One of five yachts that first appeared in 1934 and the first of which is still in-hire today from Martham Boats. The yachts were then described as “meeting the requirements of those whose chief consideration is first-class sailing qualities” and “not intended for beginners” so pretty fast, I guess, and their thoroughbred lines certainly did not belie that assumption. They were 24ft and had two berths but (Pre-War) were advertised as for three, provided that one of the crew slept on a floor mattress. Their appearance changed slightly after the war when metal scuttles (port-holes) were installed; probably during refurbishments?  Having said all that, about the one yacht, I have to confess that I have been unable to identify the nearby yacht; she is rather more conservative but there are simply too few clues revealed to separate her from the many.


One of the things that I enjoy most about real photographs, such as these, is that they can reveal the sheer quality of some of those earlier wooden builds. Often to a surprising degree, particularly when you have only seen brochure pictures of boats that you only recall when they were nearing their end of life and past their best. Maybe even before any real-life recollections at all? Often the contemporary printed brochures were produced to a cost and didn’t really do the boats justice. I think that this is a good example of such a postcard.


The cabin cruiser in the centre (one of four in her class) is a good example of this principle since she is from the yard of Herbert Banham, a pioneer of motor cruisers on the Broads from the 1920’s, and I have only ever seen them in grainy 1930’s Letterpress prints and in the occasional postcard; but not to this quality. This is partly because Herbert chose independence and did not continue with his membership of the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Yacht Owners’ Association (Blake’s) after the 1939 -1945 War; so there are no post-war brochures about. This class of cruisers survived the war but were being replaced by more modern designs when Herbert passed away in 1953. His Horning business continued for a few years until it was sold off to H.T. Percival around 1960. The yard then continued discretely as ‘Norfolk Holiday Boats’ but boats were once more bookable through the Blakes organisation. By this time however the ‘Frivolity’ class was no longer listed for hire. Oh yes, didn’t I say? This is ‘Frivolity’ a four berth cabin cruiser, built in Mahogany from c.1930 and available for £10.10.0d to £14.15.0d, per week in, 1938, the year that this card was published. Her young crew are kicking up a bit of a wash past the moored yachts but Isn’t she smart?


Card of the Month – December 2018


Perhaps it’s not one of the busiest parts of the network but this month’s view is definitely one of the most photographed locations on the Norfolk Broads. One which appears on many Postcards and other products such as Jigsaws, Tea Trays and Biscuit Tins; ad infinitum. Not to mention countless visitor’s snap shots? This is Hunsett Mill on the River Ant between Barton Broad and Wayford Bridge. The present Wind pump dates back to 1860 but there has been a pump here, at least, since the 17th Century. It has been conjectured that this was possibly the site of an Eel Sett at one time; partly accounting for the name (perhaps Hunt’s Sett or Hunter’s Sett) but I am unable to confirm that suggestion?


This picture is from the series published under licence from J. Valentine & Sons during the late 1950’s, although the image is most likely a few years earlier; when the holiday trade of the Broads was re-emerging after the 1939 -1945 World War. However, the height of the location’s popularity with photographers was probably during the c.1946 - 1987 period when long term incumbent Mrs Madeline Edgecumbe, kept the waterfront gardens fastidiously and the length of the water front was a riot of colour. This care continued into the late 1990’s, latterly under the tenure of Dr. and Mrs. Worthington.  More recently, new owners have erected a very large extension at the rear of the cottage which is (necessarily: due to the Mill’s Grade ǁ Listed status) not particularly evident from this view point; although it can be clearly seen from further upstream. The gardens have been mainly cleared and simplified in the practical modern way and although it remains an enviable property it seems, to me, to have lost the quaint and picturesque “chocolate box” charm which so thrilled visitors when they first came upon the location.  


The river here is not quite as wide as it may appear in this picture (because this is a bend) although, as I recall, it is quite sailable with a friendly wind. Perhaps that is why the yacht is motoring her way upstream and I, for one, do not blame the crew. Certainly the lady in her sunhat could not strike such an elegant pose if she were feverishly trimming sheets as they short tacked their way upstream! Nevertheless, looking beyond the boats, this appears to be a rather calm day so maybe that’s the reason?


Not far upstream of here was William Hewitt’s Wayford Bridge boatyard, where a small fleet of rather nice yachts were based for many years, but this is not one of those boats. This vessel is clearly from the larger fleet of Jack Powles at Wroxham. The finish and central raising cabin roof are, not unique, but are typical of Powles’ yachts, as is the convex profile of the roof itself and the use of cross-tree spreaders on the shrouds, but this yacht can be distinguished because she is clearly an Auxiliary Yacht which was less than common when the class became available for hire in the season of 1939. It is for that reason that I suggest this is probably one of Powles’ ‘Dragonfly’ class; his first yachts with auxiliary motor power.


The fact that the class was introduced in 1939 suggests that the photograph could have been taken that year, which of course may have been the case. I prefer to think that it is post war because the series of postcards it belongs to was re-published in the 1950’s. The two new ‘Dragonfly’ yachts would have had one short season, in 1939, and then been taken out of the water for the duration of the War. More were built after the war and eventually five similar yachts were in hire during the 1950’s. By the early 1950’s Powles’ had also put motors in some of their, slightly larger, ‘Westward’ class and the two ‘Merry Maid’ yachts. (Which means we cannot rule those classes out in this identification)  They also built five new but smaller boats, the ‘Wanderbird’ three berth auxiliary yachts which were only 23 feet in length. The Powles’ fleet of yachts remained largely unchanged until the late 1960’s when increasingly the hirer’s preference for the more salubrious motor cruisers began to reduce the viability of yacht fleets around the Broads and all of the Powles yachts were disposed of by around 1970.

                                                     Card of the Month - November 2018

I had thought that this month’s text would be somewhat briefer than most of my usual dialogues, because I know virtually nothing about the first boat, but it seems to have turned out about normal really? I have chosen this postcard just because of the sheer quality and charm of the picture. It’s around 1950 and we are looking from the end of the dyke at Stalham Yachting Station; with Staithe Road on our left. There are more extensive moorings, to the rear of the timber bungalow, which were later to become the Moon Fleet base; of more recent memory. These days the long building in the background is the location of the Museum of the Broads. Somehow it usually takes me a minute to orientate pictures of this location. Perhaps that is because there are four or five different branches off the main Stalham Dyke just here? The Yachting Station was formerly the home of the Southgate Brothers; George and Edward who were originally at the Sutton Staithe premises founded by their father. (They should not be confused with brothers Dick and Bill Southgate of Horning) The postcard’s photographic quality is not unexpected given that this postcard is by Bell’s of Westcliff-on-Sea but it is from their post war (WW2) series. There is a selection of Bell’s Edwardian and Inter-War postcards to be found at the bottom of the ‘Extras’ page; which includes a picture of Richard Southgate’s original location at Sutton Staithe.


In the foreground is a smart cabin cruiser ‘Lady Mary’ displaying very much of the 1930’s style. After conducting unsuccessful searches I have concluded that she must have been privately owned and is therefore not covered by my archive; which does not include craft that have never been in a hire fleet. The other cruiser is also a child of the 1930’s and is displaying the pennant of George Smith & Sons of Hoveton. Given her design and the vintage of the postcard she must be one of the ‘Spangle’ class of four berth cruisers which had a raised deck-head forward, central steering and an aft cabin with superstructure. My earliest record of the ‘Spangle’ class is 1932 and they remained in hire until at least 1955; although there are a few years missing from my collection at either end of that period so the ‘Spangles’ could have been built in the late 1920’s?


Other similar (from this angle) George Smith classes such as the four berth, aft cockpit, classes ‘Sable’ ‘Serenade’ and ‘Sapphire’ didn’t reappear after the War. Although in addition to ‘Spangle’ 1 & 2 the larger pre-war ‘Song of Eve’ class also lasted until the late 1950’s and the ‘Song of Joy’ class boats were still in hire as late as 1966. The two little ‘Songsters’ which were built in the late 1930’s managed to hang on, right up, until the early 1970’s. That’s good service, around 35 years in hire; many were not built to last that long.  


At the rear we have a rather restricted view of quite a large yacht but fortunately her ‘Ernest Collins & Sons’ burgee is very clear to see. The yacht has several other features that help to identify her. We can tell that she has a raked stem and a very long bowsprit which defines her as Cutter rigged. The cabin roof only lifts over the central walkway below and she is rigged for a Gaff mainsail. Only three similar yachts remained in the Collins fleet by the 1950’s and this is clearly the most traditionally styled example of those. She is ‘Sunbeam’ and by “traditionally styled” I am likening her to the earlier counter sterned, cutter rigged yachts of the late 19th Century, and Edwardian years, rather than the generic Broads yachts of the 20th Century; elegant boats!


My first reference to Sunbeam is in 1926 but, given her design, it seems possible that she had been up-dated and had her name changed from one of a few similar ‘Collins’ yachts that were no longer in hire by that year? In any event this yacht remained with the fleet until at least 1955. 

A lightly cropped 1930’s Jarrold postcard can be seen below: showing ‘Sunbeam’ under full sail near Wroxham. Strictly speaking a ‘Cutter’ should have two fore-sails but that system was simplified on the Broads by replacing Staysail and Jib with one large fore-sail. Eventually all the hire fleet yachts (with the obvious exception of Wherries) adopted Sloop rigs and bow sprits (if any) became very much shorter. 


                                         Card of the Month - February 2020

                                        Card of the Month - October 2018


Reedham Quay and the Lord Nelson Inn, circa 1932. I have attributed this card to Jarrold’s of Norwich, bearing in mind its index number, and it was posted in 1933. I have learned to recognise early ‘Real Photograph’ cards by Jarrold’s because they invariably carry the initial letter ‘J’ and a number. Sometimes other letters were added (e.g. “J. & SN” or just “J & S”) to indicate a series created for a trading customer of theirs. Perhaps Roy’s of Wroxham or Samuel Pollard’s of Potter Heigham; who ran the Post Office and Grocer’s Shop there in the days before Herbert Woods and Gerrard’s Bridge Stores et al? I have even found a couple endorsed Browne’s of Reedham [here] and that was the local Post Office too; which seems entirely appropriate. As is often the case elsewhere, not all of these cards carry the publishing firm’s trade mark but a significant number do; which encourages confidence in the attribution of anonymous examples, such as this.


The white boat is a typical example of the early conversions that were built to provide self-drive motor boats in the 1920’s. The builder has probably taken a retired working boat and built up her hull (forward) to support a deck head and provide cabin accommodation. She has a transom mounted rudder but steerage has been moved forward to the bulkhead. As I said she is typical of the era but there are insufficient distinguishing features to help provide a positive identification.


For me the other boat is a far more interesting prospect! This is ‘Regina’ a beautiful Mahogany launch on hire from Cecil W. Mollett of Pull’s Ferry, Norwich. ‘Regina’ was 36ft long with berths for a party of four guests and was powered by a “self-starting” six-cylinder ‘Studebaker’ engine which gave a top speed of 8 mph! Very impressive but, to me, the most interesting thing is that one might suggest that she was the first centre-cockpit cabin cruiser on the Norfolk Broads?    


Here’s a profile view from 1926 to better illustrate what I am trying to say: 


I will persist with my centre-cockpit argument but it needs to be considered in context. I have often referred to “Launch” type motor boats and, it seems to me that these were probably derived from the earlier steam powered launches. Typically they would have a large well forward which would have sufficient space for the engine and boiler etc. Where there was a cabin it would be in the after part of the boat and typically the helm would be placed just forward of the cabin bulkhead; just as is the gentleman with the cap in this picture. When petrol engines, which needed much less space, became more reliable and popular the cabin space could be extended further forward; or at least the well might be covered over by extending the cabin’s deck-head. I have no idea whether or not this boat was a steam launch in a previous life, or newly built, but her design was certainly novel for the time. As we can see she has a small cabin built forward of the helm. This contained another berth and cooking facilities. Here a fifth guest could be accommodated or an attendant should that service be required by the hirer?


So: Is this the primal ancestor from which the later centre-cockpit cruisers evolved? Maybe or Maybe not? The fore cabin looks like a later addition to me. It doesn’t harmonise with the lines of the main cabin and steerage is not on the forward bulkhead like a more modern cruiser. Notwithstanding that and the initial lack of a canopy (an awning was added later and is just discernible in the postcard) the boat does, in effect, have a central well and it is the earliest example of that which I have seen up to now!


Lastly, one of the features of this card that first attracted me was the shop (don’t you love the vintage advertising signs?) this is Mr's Croucher's 'Riverside Stores' and I am a little bit intrigued by the fact that the figure standing outside appears to be that of a smartly dressed black gentleman. Something that would be a comparatively rare sight in those days. Estimates vary but the black population of Britain was thought to be little more than 10,000 individuals at the time. Most of whom would be occupied at the major ports such as London, Cardiff, Glasgow or Liverpool etc. If that gentlemen was a resident of the Reedham area perhaps he was a well-known character who engaged in some local business or other?

                                         Card of the Month - September 2018

A lovely animated scene at Potter Heigham, in the 1950’s, with six young men setting off to negotiate the famous bridge by quant power. It seems that there are two quants being employed, which was a common practice with the larger yachts; one on each side. It all looks a bit hectic up to now and those side decks need to be cleared of bodies and rigging in order to get properly moving. Apart from the man with the hat and the baggy shorts, who appears to be putting ties on the spars and mainsail, the crew are all very young and I would guess that they might be a group of sixth formers or possibly sea scouts. In every likelihood, some sort of organised party anyway?

They are enjoying a cruise on the yacht ‘Ruby’ which was a part of the fleet from C. & G. Press who were at Hoveton by this time. Charlie and George Press were brothers who came from a dynasty of Wherry and Yacht Builders from the Coltishall area. They themselves had started out in two of the long sheds at Belaugh and moved to Hoveton in the 1930’s. ‘Ruby’ was 34’ and had fixed berths for a crew of six; she had been part of this fleet, at least, since the 1920’s although the owner’s partnership likely dates back to before the 1914 -1918 War. Like several other firms which started in an era when most of the hire fleets consisted of attended yachts, C. & G. Press hung on to their yacht fleet as long as possible and, in their case, none of their boats were ever fitted with auxiliary engines. Does that remind you of another famous firm still hiring today?

Some time after the Second World War, Fred Brinkhoff came to Hoveton and set up home in the famous ‘Bee Hive’ at the entrance to Daisy Broad. He founded ‘Brinkcraft’ and, around 1960, bought up (his neighbour) the C. & G. Press fleet which continued to operate under that name; latterly managed by Bernard Press. In the early years the two fleets were advertised for hire through R. B. Bradbeer Ltd. under the banner of their ‘Red Whale Fleet’ but that firm closed around 1970. Brinkcraft and Press continued to trade (with Blake’s) for a further ten years or so but Fred Brinkhoff passed away at the end of 1980 and shortly after that the firm merged with another neighbour; W. K. Barnes. Of course the combined names of those two firms are still familiar to us all; to this day.

There were a few well known firms that used the services of Bradbeer’s but a speciality of that firm was to act as agents for individual boat owners who wished to let out their boats. These owners did not necessarily have a boatyard of their own and boats would be collected from their moorings or perhaps a Yacht Station such as that at Oulton Broad. The only drawback for hirers was that their boats would not qualify for the reciprocal free mooring provided at other participating boatyards by the Hoseason’s and Blake’s organisations. Of course, at the time that this picture was taken, C. & G. Press were still participating in Blake’s “Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Yacht owners’ Association” so our crew could have had a shorter quant by availing themselves of the moorings opposite at Herbert Woods’ or Applegate’s. Never mind, it looks as though the wind would have been behind them?   

                                               Card of the Month – August 2018


Another intriguing scene for this month? I have attributed the postcard to The Bell Series of Leigh-on-Sea (please see the ‘Extras’ page) and it was posted in 1920 but, judging from the index number and content, I would say that it is a slightly earlier ‘Edwardian’ view.  Postcards naming this location as ‘Boater’s Hill’ are fairly commonplace but I believe that this popular picnic spot, about ¾ of a mile downstream from Beccles, is more properly ‘Boat House Hill’ part of Hill House Farm and there was a boathouse at the riverside here for many years. One school of thought is that the misnomer arose because the local dialect would make it sound like ‘Boat-us’ Hill. I can believe that because such confusions are not unknown in the Broadland region!  


So “what’s intriguing about it” you may ask? Well I’m sorry to keep bringing this up but I am fascinated by the story. What I believe we have here is a cruise of the ‘Viscountess Bury’ before she became ‘Enchantress’? It’s a comfortable cruise to here from her base at Oulton Broad and there she is, in her varnished finish, moored at the rhond whilst her party of day trippers enjoy a stretch of their legs and possibly a picnic? It’s wonderful how you still get the impression it’s a warm-sunny day, even in these old black & white photographs; of course the lady with the parasol does help strengthen that impression. Although, judging from the length of the shadows I would hazard that this is a late afternoon scene?     


More detailed references to the ‘Viscountess of Bury’ saga can be found on the ‘Extras’ page; in particular within the Harry Spashett series. I promise I will try to limit further comment on the story of ‘Enchantress’ in future, maybe?


Card of the Month – July 2018


I am always attracted to a picture which includes a bit of fishing! That’s because I have enjoyed the pastime for most of my life and that really started during my Broads holidays. Of course it was children’s author Arthur Ransome who initially introduced me to the Broads, through his books, and he was also a well known exponent and author on the subject of angling. Hence the ‘Worlds Whopper’ in Coot club. Looking at this scene, from the 1950’s, I am reminded that angling today, seemingly, requires a great deal of modern equipment and specialist paraphernalia; just as most modern sports do, I suppose?  Remember when a tee shirt, white shorts and canvas plimsolls were all you needed for most outdoor activities? Nowadays anglers tend to have 4x4’s or maybe an estate car but these guys seem perfectly happy with a rod each and a haversack. I wonder if the man standing is enjoying a holiday on the cruiser and perhaps the two seated are locals; who knows?   


As regular visitors to this site (always assuming there are a few?) will know, I initially found fun in identifying and remembering the boats of the Broads Holiday-Hire fleet, from my younger days. That is how it all started, although often I see a card at a fair or on-line auction and think “ah yes I know that one” but sometimes, on closer examination, I find that I was mistaken and have to re-think things.  Within this process I have identified a couple of cabin cruisers that regularly deceive me in this way and here we have a prime example!
Several times I have been misled by the ‘Amethyst’ class (Jenner’s of Thorpe) which had their appearance substantially altered in the early 1960’s. In this case the window trimmings deceived me and I actually thought that this was a boat from that class. However the asymmetric layout of this cruiser’s windows soon led to my discounting that assumption! I would like to think that a front view of the boat would not have led to my mistake because I had previously established her identity in a Spashett view of Beccles.  This is one of the ‘Swift’ class from Bell Boats of Brundall. Her class sisters were ‘Swallow’ and ‘Martin’ and more information about them can be found in the Harry Spashett article on the ‘Extras’ page.  

Card of the Month - June 2018

As usual, I have selected this view primarily because I like it but there is also a little collector’s story to go with the postcard. There aren’t a lot of clues that help to date the card except that the yacht is instantly recognisable as Alfred Collins’ ‘Palace’; perhaps one of the most famous of all Broads hire yachts? ‘Palace’ was built in 1916 and remained in the hire fleet up to 1939. It was not uncommon for boats (albeit more usually motor boats) to have met their demise due to the tribulations of the 
1939-1945 War but I have no information about the actual fate of this yacht; other than she never reappeared after the end of the war. In the 1930’s ‘Palace’ was often hired to school groups or scouting organisations and given that the crew here seems to consist of all girls of a similar age I would say that this is most likely that type of party? Therefore, if I am correct, then the photograph must be pre-WW2. I am quite comfortable with that deduction but it leads me to my little story about this postcard and a few others that I have in my collection.


During the first half of the twentieth century one of the leading postcard publishers was James Valentine & Sons of Dundee. This was especially true between the Wars and this particular card would fit very nicely into their 1933 series of cards depicting a girl’s school cruise on ‘Palace’ and a couple of other yachts from the same yard. Cards from that series can be seen on the ‘Extras’ page of this web-site; as can some of their ‘Art Colour’ versions on the ‘Early Days’ page.


With hindsight, I believe this card does belong to that series and that is probably why I originally bought it (I can’t actually remember doing so now) but I probably didn’t include it in the ‘Extras’ page article because it was published anonymously and I couldn’t be sure it was a James Valentine view. Since that original purchase I have identified a dozen or so very similar, anonymous, postcards which include one or two that are assuredly by Valentine because I also have copies with the original index numbers and trademarks. In the 1950’s Valentine’s began to run down their production of postcards and in 1963 they were taken over by John Waddington & Co. In this period they allowed some of their images to be published, on commission, by other firms. Valentine’s colour slide originals were all sold off to other publishers, production of postcards ceased and (in 1971) their stock of Black & White photograph originals was transferred to the custody of St Andrews University where they are held in The Valentine Archive. That archive can be viewed and image copies may be obtained by arrangement with St Andrews University Library, St. Andrews, Fife, KY16 9TR. In view of these events I now believe that we can be reasonably assured that this is in fact a Valentine original. On that basis I will now feel able to add it to the Extras page ‘Palace’ article with a greater degree of confidence.


So this is just the sort of thing that informed the remit for this monthly feature. Such as: “someday in the future I might discover more information”. It wasn’t significant but my only reservation in this case was that: usually postcards’ reference numbers run (more or less) chronologically. That can assist in the dating and sequential identification of a series. Within this group the views seem to have been ‘cherry picked’ from a selection of unrelated images and consequently their numerical sequence is not really so helpful, in that respect.
Card of the month -  May 2018 


Even though Norfolk Broads postcards often show close-ups it is still fairly rare that a boat’s name can be quite easily read! Well, for once, the yacht’s name is clearly visible in this 1950’s view. Mind you, it would have been a fairly easy guess given the location and the signature partially-lifting cabin roof. Yes, this is ‘Buzzard’ from John Loynes & Sons at Wroxham. ‘Buzzard’ was built for the 1937 hire season and was a smaller version of the ‘Ripple’ class which were outwardly similar in style but six foot longer and had six berths; two more than ‘Buzzard’ provided. The earlier, three strong, ‘Ripple’ class yachts were built between 1922 and 1926 and it seems to me that ‘Buzzard’ here looks in such good condition because she was still comparatively new due to the interruption of War. John Loynes died just before that war (WW2) got started and the family sold off their interest in the firm in 1959 but things continued pretty much in the same fashion under the Loynes name for some time. Gradually the fleet was modernised and the Yachts had all been disposed of by the early 1970’s. Eventually and following more changes of ownership Loynes’ was absorbed by Faircraft and still trades under the name Faircraft - Loynes (part of the Norfolk Broads Direct Group) at this location to the present day.    


Just about to exit to the right of picture is a ‘Kingfisher’ class cabin cruiser which has just passed under the bridge. 'Kingfisher' and her sisters were built by J.E. Fletcher at Oulton Broad (and later Brundall) and more about these boats can be found on the River Waveney page. See ‘Lancer 1 & 11’ at the Waveney River Centre. Just behind ‘Kingfisher’ are the  premises of Sydney Stringer who sold and repaired bicycles and motorbikes. I think they vanished about the same time as the Granary, which was just out of picture here, around 1960.   

More comments about 'Buzzard' can be found on the River Thurne page.  

                           Card of the month - April 2018


This is my latest acquisition from the Joseph Salmon real-photograph series, which I have largely attributed to the early post war years. (See the card for January 2018 and also September last year) In this case however I believe the image dates from the late 1930’s; I will explain that in a moment. Here we have an example of the very numerous views that were photographed from Wroxham Bridge throughout the lifetime of picture postcards. (That was over a hundred years but they’re now virtually obsolete) A high proportion of Wroxham cards would be taken from this viewpoint, just adjacent to the premises of John Loynes and Sons and looking downstream toward the rather more extensive boatsheds of Jack Powles whose firm was founded by Alfred Collins.  


So why do I believe that this is pre-war? That’s because of the two most prominent boats in the picture. The cabin cruiser coming upstream is from John Loynes’ yard and is displaying all the hallmarks of the pre-cruise demonstration, by a member of the yard staff, which is a familiar procedure at the start of most holidays afloat. Before the war John Loynes had several motor cruisers, of different sizes, which were similar in appearance. This particular craft is one of their larger boats, the six berth ‘Kestrel’ class built around 1930. There was also a four berth ‘Osprey’ and the two berth ‘Kingfisher’ class; the latter of which survived until the end of the 1960’s. Unfortunately neither the ‘Kestrel’ class or ‘Osprey’ survived the war to return to the hire fleet; so I would say that is clear evidence that this view is from before the war. Perhaps it is as late as 1939, the year in which John Loynes, senior, passed away aged 96?


The large yacht in the foreground is the last of John Loynes’ large skippered craft ‘Golden Hinde’ a Wherry Yacht which could accommodate nine guests; or ten if the bathroom was converted to a single cabin by covering the bath, with a board, and adding a mattress. The cost of a high season cruise in 1939 was £26:10:0d per week or £2.65 each in today’s money. It doesn’t sound too bad when you say it like that but adjusted for inflation it’s about £169.50. Still relatively cheap I suppose? In any event ‘Golden Hinde’ didn’t return to the hire fleet after the war either. I am unsure what happened to these boats but the most likely explanation is the usual one that they were not fit for purpose or beyond repair after being commandeered during the war? The remaining Loynes fleet continued substantially unchanged until the motor cruisers began to be replaced, with new, in the late 1950’s but shortly after that the firm was sold. Of course by that time the sons (like their father before them) were past normal retirement age.

                          Card of the month - March 2018

This month's offering is a card from a favourite publisher i.e. 'H. Coates' and is from the ‘Nene Series’ produced from his Wisbech base. Herbert George Coates originally started up his photography business in partnership with his brother-in-law, Alexander Ball. The pair were trading as Ball & Coates at Peterborough until the 1st World War but following the war Herbert moved up the road to Wisbech and set up alone there. I can't help wondering if perhaps Alexander did not survive the conflict?


Herbert produced his high quality Black & White ‘Real Photograph’ postcards between the Wars and by the 1960’s his son Kenneth was producing colour postcards. Some of these were colour photographs and others were photo-tints like the earlier example above. Although later examples were much more heavily coloured.


With this view we see the first of four, in my possession, that are in numerical sequence and which all show this famous yacht making her way downstream from Wroxham. She is ‘Sabrina’ one of the first few yachts in the fleet of George Smith and Sons. She was built in 1912 by Herbert Bunn who was the father of Graham Bunn of ‘Windboats’ fame. ‘Sabrina’ was Cutter rigged and the raciest of Smith’s yachts. Around 1934 three more ‘Sabrina’ sloops were built on very similar lines but they had a slightly taller ‘Gunter’ sloop rig and ‘Sabrina 1’ was always listed separately. All of the yachts were promoted as fast and popular. Of ‘Sabrina 1’ the 1935 brochure enthuses: “This handsome, fast little cutter-rigged Yacht is extremely popular. Stream-lined, well proportioned and a splendid sailor. It is the pride of the visitor”. The later three were described as “The envy of every sailing man” and “without doubt amongst the fastest of the smaller craft in Broadland….the real sports-man’s yacht”  How could one resist? Of course George Smith didn’t confine himself to hiring out yachts. He was quick to join the ranks of Motor Cruiser owners and, of course, he was the founder of the ‘Broads Tours’ Day Trip Launch company and first came to Hoveton to become Licensee of the Horse Shoes Hotel in Station Road.

Card of the Month - February 2018


For this month: there’s another nice old photo-card, by James Valentine & Sons. To me it’s not so much a beautifully composed scene, as more of a snap-shot really, but it holds lots of interest and nostalgia for me. This picture dates from 1936 but little had changed by the time the location had become a regular overnight stop for my family; in the late 1950’s. In the 1960’s: visits to the angling department at Latham’s were a highlight of any Broads holiday for the young, fishing obsessed, youth that I was. At the time it was the first fishing tackle ‘superstore’ that I had encountered and the walls were covered in photographs of happy anglers with their ‘World’s Whopper’ type pike and other specimen fish caught from the nearby River Thurne and Hickling Broad area. As I remember it, the tackle shop took up around half of the Latham’s store in those days but in later years it was very much reduced and nowadays it occupies separate riverside premises; below the bridge.   


We are looking downstream towards the ‘Repps’ bank and it is the drainage Mill at Repps that can be seen in the centre of the picture. That mill still stands (sans sails) and is a holiday home these days. It seems very likely that the photographer was standing on the Broads-Haven footbridge; which was a popular spot for taking photographs although the majority would be facing the other way, looking towards the famous Potter Heigham Bridge.


I am not going to pretend that I know all the names of the bungalows because their ownership would often change, over the years, and new owners might well choose to re-name their property. Several bungalows on this near bank were owned by the Herbert Woods company and were holiday lets or, at times, were occupied by members of his family or staff. I believe the adjacent bungalow was called ‘Bridge Foot’ for a while and the yacht moored outside is ‘Welcome’ from that same company. The yacht under sail looks like a ‘Midget’ class from Ernest Collins of Wroxham, its not possible to be certain of her identity but there is a clue in the clinker construction. She appears to be enjoying a fair breeze. An impression that makes it all the more surprising that the yacht crew in the background have already lowered their mast and left themselves with a fair old distance to quant up to the bridge?


Moored by the shop are a ‘Delight’ class, again from Herbert Woods’ and what looks like ‘Wendy’ from Jack Powles in her 1930’s turnout. If you saw the first card in this series (below) you may remember the riverside stores at Ludham Bridge which interested me but were before my time. This time I do remember the shop and calling there on several occasions; it was very convenient if you were moored on the Repps bank. In this 1936 scene the store is named as a branch of ‘Wall’s’ in Potter Heigham. I suppose that, like many another, the business changed hands after the War because in the 1950s it was known as Morris’s. Here’s their advertisement from the 1958 Hoseason’s brochure. 

                        Card of the Month - January 2018 

There’s not so very much I have to talk about in this month’s offering but that was, sort of, the plan for this series. Honestly ...... yes it was? Nevertheless I chose to share this card just for the pleasure that its photographic quality gives me. It’s another from J. Salmon Ltd. of Seven Oaks, in Kent, and is the next view (in their early 1950’s series) following my Neatishead ‘card of the month’ for September. This time the location is Gay’s Staithe which is between Irstead and Neatished just off Limekiln Dyke, the passage from Barton Broad to Neatishead. For some years visitors here could partake of a beer, or two, at 'The Barton Angler Inn' just a couple of minutes away on the Irstead Road. This was not a historically established inn and had actually been the village rectory for many many years. The building has now been returned to residential occupation. I believe it is now known as The Old Rectory.    


The rakish looking cabin cruiser is instantly recognisable as a product of the Graham Bunn ‘Windboats’ yard at Wroxham. The company started building this generation of their boats, soon after WW2. There were several classes, ranging from the 32ft four berth ‘Westwind’ to the 39ft seven berth ‘Fairwind’. The boats were available for private sale and for hire. The hire fleet were all similar in appearance and externally they only varied by size. So although the boats are very distinctive as a fleet, more care must be taken when identifying the individual class. This is particularly true of the ‘Fairwind and ‘Finewind’ classes where the only difference was an extra berth in the saloon of the former. Nevertheless careful examination tells me that this is a ‘Merrywind’ class although her painted hull suggests to me she was built for a private customer; as does the accessorising. She sports a flag mast and a flood light on her fore cabin, and an electric winch for her mud weight; not equipment usually employed in hire-craft of the day. In addition the Windboat hire fleet, including this four-strong class of 33ft five berths, were initially presented with a varnished hull finish.


‘Merrywind’ was the last of the aforementioned classes to be introduced to the hire fleet, around 1950. By then the business had changed hands and from around 1960 these four classes were beginning to be sold off to private individuals and into other fleets; most notably to Wayford Marina which by that time was under the same ‘Windboats’ ownership as the Wroxham yard. Once more the business was making room for new, more modern, designs; and in particular those by, new owner, Donald Hagenbach; many of which were constructed using the trademark ‘Seacrete’ ferro-cement system. At least, that is, until GRP construction became very much the default system to be used throughout the boatbuilding industry.   


In the foreground, the rowing boats appear to be intended for anglers (at least one has an outboard) but I am more intrigued by the nearest, a rather unusual craft? It is double-ended and finished in beautiful varnished carvel planking. She appears (I’m getting a little bit out of my depth here) to be a ‘sailing canoe’ or ‘canoe yawl’? Such craft could carry a not insubstantial amount of sail on their two masts. Nevertheless boats like this could be sailed single handed, sometimes sporting an athwartships sliding seat for hiking out. Such examples might also have a sharp bow in the tiller so that it did not fowl the mizzen mast when tacking. Others, perhaps the less powerful examples, might be steered by the use of tiller ropes like a rowing skiff. I would hazard that the above is an example of the latter type? I don’t suppose these craft are too far removed from the Norfolk Punts which were originally similar in appearance to kayaks (the older type, much favoured by boy-scouting groups) that had a canvas hull stretched over a light timber frame and, in Broadland, were often used to carry a duck gun. These latter craft are still built today but the concept also evolved into the extreme ‘Norfolk Punt’ racing machines which are rather narrow in the beam and feature powerful ‘high aspect ratio’ rigs.      


                      Card of the Month - December 2017


This month's card is by Jarrold's and is, I think, a charming view of the old Ludham Bridge. The narrowness of this bridge was an impediment to water dispersal during the floods of 1912 and the damaged bridge was replaced with a more modern, but less picturesque, bridge that lasted until 1959 when it was replaced again, by the present version. I have shared this card here because recently I have had to replace my computer and all of its peripherals. Consequently I haven't been able to prepare an article for this month but I do have a new card (that I prepared earlier) to display in the Bells of Westcliff-on-Sea article on the Extras page. The card above is included in that article because it is relevant to the discussion. This link will take you to that new article: How Hill

In January 2018 further information and another postcard are added to the above article.

                      Card of the Month - November 2017
I don’t intend to make a habit of it but, once again, I have chosen two cards for this month’s feature. Although they are by different publishers they are both real photographs from around the same time - in the 1930's. I really like them both and I believe that their opposite viewpoints link them together quite well. 

The first card is the later of the two and is by James Valentine of Dundee. With the help of their index system it can be dated to 1937 or 1938. Valentine’s produced many views of the Broads in the 1930’s, particularly the early thirties, and this one has long been a favourite of mine. First and foremost because I am an absolute pushover for a clinker boat and I love the lines and detail of this one. That apart, I also think this is amongst the best composed photographs in my collection. As you can see we are looking across the River Waveney toward St. Olaves, with the wonderful old Bell Inn and Johnson’s Stores opposite. I even like the purposeful beauty of the suspension bridge which carries the Beccles Road (A143) across the river.

Just nearby a little cabin cruiser is moored on the riverbank and, as far as I can tell, she is from the three berth ‘Moonglade’ class from A. Fuller’s yard at Oulton Broad. Her berths consisted of two settees in the main cabin, one of which could extend out to give a double. The boats would be quite new at the time of this picture and could be hired for ten pounds a week in the high season of 1939; by which time two more had been built bringing the class to five in total. Fuller’s were in business throughout the 1930’s with a fleet of around ten craft; mostly motor boats. Sadly, even though new boats were being built into the late 1930’s, this was one of those firms that never re-appeared in the hire lists after the 1939 -1945 War.

The second card is a view from Beccles Road looking toward the bridge from the opposite direction and is attributed to Jarrold & Sons of Norwich. This card is endorsed “Johnson’s Series” which tells me that it was part of a series especially produced for sale in the shop seen on the right. Johnson’s Stores was one of those ubiquitous shops where almost anything that the Broads holiday maker might require could be found. Jarrold’s produced postcards for a number of shopkeepers (most notably Roy’s of Wroxham) which usually showed views of the area around the shop’s locality; for sale to their customers.

I selected this view because I particularly like its, ever so slightly, dusty summer atmosphere. I cannot provide a precise date but I am happy to say 1930’s, despite the fact that the little motor car looks distinctly earlier to me. Also, I imagine that the men with the cart are dropping off their milk churns for later collection by the Dairy; or possibly recovering the empties for the next day? At the same time I suppose it’s possible they were used to fill up peoples milk cans at the shop; which was a common practice in the 1920’s and 1930’s? Certainly the sight of milk churns on a lorry-height platform, at the end of a farm track, takes me right back; how about you?

There’s not a lot to help you date this postcard but, interestingly, it was most likely purchased in 1936 as (although it was never posted) it carries two Edward VIII half-penny stamps which were only produced for a few months in that year; i.e. after his father George V ’s death but before his abdication and the ascension of George VI had been announced for that December. Incidentally I checked to see if these stamps had any value …. 30p each apparently? Thankfully the card is worth rather more!

Card of the Month - October 2017

For this month I have picked out a pair of cards because they belong together and I didn’t want to separate them. That was partly because I didn’t believe that the second composition would be so strong if it had to stand alone. The cards are real photographs. They are anonymously published and they are printed on a generic, bi-lingual photo paper (believed to be by the Eastman Kodak Co.) which was on sale from around 1918 to 1936.  It was around this time that Kodak developed their ‘Autographic’ system which enabled the photographer to include a description in the margin of the negative; at the time of the exposure. It is only hypothesis on my part but could that be how these postcards were produced? The system would certainly simplify production of a limited run of postcards for a small business. (With further thought it would appear that  my hypothesis is disproved. That system involved hand writing the inscription through a hatch in the camera back; that allowed access to the film backing paper.)


The first picture shows ‘Commodore’ still in her pyjamas from the night before. Her main well awning remains in place as does the forepeak awning over the skipper’s accommodation. In the second scene the awnings are stowed and the mainsail is set ready for the off. It looks a very calm morning, giving an impression of earliness, and I expect that is possibly the skipper, standing by the mast, ready to raise the foresail as soon as the photographer has taken their picture?

During the 1920’s there were comparatively very few motor cruisers for hire and I am unable to put a name to the very smart launch that is moored nearby. From her appearance and accommodation I would say she is most likely a gentleman’s day boat; quite possibly belonging to the owners of Fleet House.

                                                  Card of the Month - September 2017                                             

This month’s offering is another Black & White photographic card from the early 1950’s. This time the publisher is Joseph Salmon Ltd. of Sevenoaks, one of the few firms that are still selling postcards to this day. (Since writing this Salmon's have announced that they will close in December 2017) Initially my attention was drawn to the card because I had been looking at pictures of ‘Royal Tudor’ a boat which I was familiar with.  I thought that was her on the right of the picture. Of course upon closer examination I realised my mistake and identified the cruiser as one of the ‘Amethyst’ class from Jenner’s of Thorpe. This was before the modernisation of those boats, which took place around 1960 and included the cutting of new window profiles. That changed their appearance somewhat and rendered them much less likely to be confused with Royall’s fleet in later pictures.  

I had previously seen 1950’s pictures of this class and noted the similarities of styling with the early Royall fleet. There is a simple explanation for this and I am grateful to the Royall’s Boatyard website for confirmation. (Please note that although Royall’s have recently withdrawn from the hire fleet business their historic website is still up and running. I hope it remains available but I am not sure how long that will be the case.

Ernest Royall went to work for Jenner’s (which was under new ownership) just after the war and became the yard foreman. I believe ‘Amethyst’ was the last build he was involved with before setting up on his own and commencing the building of ‘Royal Times’; the first of his fleet in 1949/50. ‘Royal Tudor’ was a slightly larger boat and came into hire around 1962. the new boats were all built to Ernest’s own designs and so it seems logical that there would be similarities in their appearance. I suppose it’s the Boaty Mac. Boatface thing, they all resembled each other, or is it just me who sees a benign face with a big pair of eyes looking back at me?  

The cabin cruiser on the opposite bank is clearly a ‘Vesta’ class from Landamore’s but there are many references on the web-site to these boats already; so perhaps enough is enough on that topic for now?

It is a matter of personal regret that I never got to visit “Neatshead” myself (the letter ‘i’ is silent in the local vernacular) although I did once attempt to get there. It was 1970 and I was enjoying a sailing holiday with my then fiancée. We motored down Limekiln Dyke but unfortunately the trees had been allowed to overhang the water too much and we kept getting our mast and rigging entangled in their branches. With hindsight we might have lowered the mast but at the time we decided to turn back. Perhaps I should put a visit, by water, onto my bucket list?

Mmm……. what would be on my Broadland bucket list? Well (1) go to Neatishead, by boat, and have a pint in the White Horse, obviously. (2) Hire a yacht from the Hunter Fleet, never done that. (3) Buy a nice wooden classic. Something by Broom’s, Moore’s, Collins/Powles’, Landamore’s or Royall’s would be nice. (4) Win the Lottery (see # 3) Hmm…turned into more of a wish list I’d say? 

Card of the Month - August 2017

Visitors who have surfed (or is it paddled?) around this web-site, previously, may have seen the ongoing ‘Extras Page’ compilation. Which is about the real-photo postcards produced by the Bell Photo Company of Westcliff-on-Sea. The vast majority of those cards were produced before the 1st World War and between the Wars. Though, as far as I know, the last production years of the Bell Company took place in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. 

I have managed to collect a small number of their post war cards; just eight examples in fact. They have a new numerical index system which appears to start from scratch; albeit this particular example does not seem to fit into that pattern; just to confuse matters? Only this and one other of the eight cards can be dated as post-war by their content. None of the remainder contain images that could not have been pictured before 1940 but I remain convinced that they are later.

So what we have here is a busy scene at Stalham in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s. It is not absolutely clear to me but I would say that our young angler is standing on Staithe Road, more or less opposite, what is now the Museum of the Broads. To his right is the old Stalham Yacht Station, founded by Richard Southgate in the latter 19th Century and managed by his two sons until the late 1930’s.

I knew immediately that this picture dated from the 1950’s because one of the boats is a familiar sight to me. She is ‘Royal Trail’ and can be seen to the left of centre, in the picture, just aft of the white hulled launch-cruiser with the two young men fishing from her cabin top. ‘Royal Trail’ was class sister to ‘Royal Times’ my family’s first ever hire; around 1959 or 1960. There was also a third example ‘Royal Tour’ listed but she had vanished by around 1960 and I have never seen a picture of her; nor do I have any personal recollection. In fact I have never been able to ascertain what fate befell her. I suppose that fire is the most common cause of a boat’s demise. A sell-off doesn’t seem likely in this case? 

Ernest Royall built ‘Royal Times’, at Norwich, as the foundation of his own fleet in 1950. She was followed by ‘Royal Tour’ and ‘Royall Trail’ then one of the smaller two berths ‘Royal Tiara’ I think; although it was her sister ‘Royal Charm’ that I remember as a brand new varnished mahogany boat on our first visit. With the exception of Royal Tour, this is the fleet that I recall from our first holiday when Ernie Royall had his seasonal base at Summercraft of Hoveton. After 1960 he established his own yard at Riverside Road in Hoveton. That business passed to Ernie’s son Alan and in turn to his grandson Nigel. Last year, after 65 years or more, it was decided that Royall’s boatyard would cease trading at the end of the 2017 season but this was brought forward when Barnes-Brinkcraft negotiated to buy the business without further delay. 

It’s a tenuous coincidence but the cabin cruiser in the centre of the scene was the product of another family firm and near neighbour of Royall’s: ‘Ralph Moore and Sons’ a firm which was also absorbed into Barnes - Brinkcraft; around about the time of the millennium. She is of the ‘Clanmore’ class, their 30ft four berth cruiser; popular with the average family. I particularly liked the little flying cockpit forward which afforded a safe viewpoint when under way; particularly for the children or perhaps elderly parents not involved with steering the ship? 

Moore’s started in the holiday hire trade, with two motor cruisers, in the 1930’s and, for the majority of their time, remained independent of the large booking agencies. Preferring instead to publish their own brochures (with the help of Jarrolds of Norwich) and, I think, rely upon a particularly high level of repeat bookings. In addition Moore was also known for building very high quality, mahogany, Broads craft of original design. Examples of several of their classes found their way into the fleets of other hirers. Notably: Near neighbours Summercraft and Sabberton Brothers. Redline Craft of Potter Heigham and William Hewitt of Wayford Bridge; amongst others. Quite a few Moore’s cruisers are still around today. A personal favourite is the little ‘Moorhen’ class. The original of this class was built for Ralph Moore’s personal use and she was later joined by another six boats in his hire fleet; plus several more at other bases. The header picture on this page shows an example of the ‘Moorhen’ class passing Turf Fen Mill on the River Ant.

Finally: since this piece is in danger of becoming overlong! This scene belongs to the era when James Hoseason was busy expanding the business founded by his father. At that time there was something of a loose cooperative involving several of the Oulton Broad yards and James had a small fleet of cruisers to rent. Initially they tended to be refurbished boats from the1930’s but very shortly the building of new boats began in earnest. Quite a few cruisers were produced by J.E. Fletcher and could be hired from the Commodore Road establishments of several firms, including Hoseason’s own.  On the right of picture we can just see W 651 and from her appearance one might think she was one of the Stalham Yacht Station fleet, of the day, but she is actually ‘Curlew’ a little aft cockpit two berth from Fletchers. I think the boat to the rear of ‘Curlew’ is hiding her light behind a bushel? She appears to be one of the Fletcher built boats I am referring to and I believe her most likely to be ‘Mayflower’ a full eight berth of 38ft. The aft cabin contained three single berths, a WC and wash basin. The main cabin area, which is out of sight here, was double the size and contained the usual twin cabin forward, the main saloon and separate galley and bathroom facilities. 

                                                Card of the Month - July 2017

                                                                                                        Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd   

This card is a favourite which has been in my collection for some years now; waiting for its chance to make it onto the web-site. It is from the Roy’s of Wroxham Series which was produced for them by Jarrold’s. I would have thought the picture was late 1930’s but the pictorial evidence clearly suggests 1933 or 1934.

Firstly, the famous sheds in the [right hand] background advertise the business of Jack Powles who was first named as the owner of that business in 1933. Previously the sheds had been embellished with the name of Alfred Collins who retired that year. Jack Powles had been Collins’ Manager before taking over the business when Alfred retired. 

Our young men are busy aboard their yacht and it looks to me as if this is just a short stop for lunch. The nearest member of the crew appears to be washing up and they haven’t bothered to stow the boom in the crutches. They have just lowered sail and left the boom hanging over the rhond so that they can raise sail and make way again in a matter of moments. 

Oh yes, the second piece of dating evidence: Their three berth yacht ‘Corsair’ was one of the ‘Pirate’ class on hire from Herbert Banham’s yard at Horning. ‘Corsair’ and her sister ‘Buccaneer’ had left the hire lists by 1935. Only ‘Pirate’ continued in hire until the advent of World War 2.

Card of the Month - June 2017


This month’s offering is an early example from the Photochrom Co. Ltd of London’s ‘Glossy Photo Series’ and although the serial number is a little difficult to read, on my copy, it would appear that the postcard dates from around 1908. 

I bought this card which is entitled ‘Womack Staithe’ for its historical charm and its quality; not because I knew all about the content! Nevertheless, I have discovered a little information which I hope is relevant? The card’s title says Womack Staithe but I believe we are looking across a small dyke beside Robert Harrison’s boatyard which can be seen in the background. Behind the boatman can be seen a wet boat shed which is very typical of the Wherry Yards at various locations around the Broads and which, in this case, opened straight onto Womack dyke. A late 19th Century photograph can be found on the Ludham Archive website which shows this same shed with a trading wherry hauled out for repairs.  

I am also intrigued by the little yacht with the lifting roof. It seems a very early example of this practice which was later to become almost universal amongst the generic Norfolk Broads hire yachts; although in this case I would guess that only sitting headroom was available. 

Incidentally, if like me you have fallen in love with this photograph, there is an example currently for sale on eBay, item # 401317672012. The seller is asking £25 which is not beyond the bounds of reason given its rarity and quality. I’m just glad I got mine for £6 a couple of years ago!

                              Card of the Month - May 2017

Here's the first in this new series, a card which I would attribute to Jarrold's: It's a view looking downstream from Ludham Bridge which reveals some interesting details. Of course, I personally don't remember the riverside stores here; where boaters could procure Fresh water, Petrol and Provisions at the waterside. In fact this is the only picture I have seen that shows these premises. It was a branch of the 'Ludham Bridge Stores' on the nearby Ludham to Horning (Norwich) road. This business changed hands shortly after the Second World War and I believe it was around this time that the riverside branch was closed down. Probably, I suppose, because the main store is only a stone's throw away from the bridge.

In any event we can date this postcard view to the period 1932 - 1936 thanks to the postage i.e. August 1936 and the rather attractive yacht. She is 'Pamela' which was built "on racing lines" at the yard of George Applegate, Junior, at Potter Heigham in 1932.

I am not going to attempt to identify the Pleasure Wherry in the background, there are too many similar craft to be positive at this scale.

However, the boat that piqued my interest in the first place (not forgetting the shop) was the cabin cruiser, presumably, just readying herself for passage through the bridge. She is 'Tellmemore' which along with 'Seemore' was one of the first two hire craft in the fleet of Ralph Moore at Hoveton. Trading as R. Moore and Sons. this firm went on to make a good many classes of beautiful wooden and later composite cabin cruisers for their own hire fleet and those of other yards after the war. This was a well known and respected independent firm of boat builders which continued trading until the end of the twentieth century. 


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