Postcards from the Norfolk Broads.net 


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 lead 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 items please see the foot of this page. 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.

As I have stated, 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.

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 2017:     Extras Page: A new group of cards from Bell's of Westcliff-on-Sea



In February 2017:   Another new card by Harry Spashett showing Wherry Yacht 'Rambler'


In August 2017:         Extras Page: Another new card from Spashett of Lowestoft

                                    Acknowledgements Page: A new card from Edmund Nagele

                                    Extras Page: A new card from Bell's of Westcliff-on-Sea 

In December 2017:    See card of the month - December

In February 2018:      Extras Page: Ford Jenkins  

In March 2018:         Another addition to the Harry Spashett, Beccles, series

Also March:              Extras Page: Two more Cards from Spashett of Lowestoft

In April 2018:            Extras Page: Another Spashett of Lowestoft Card 


                                                  The Card of the Month

Within my collection are very many more post cards 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 - 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 mislead 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 lead to my discounting that assumption! I would like to think that a front view of the boat would not have lead 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: Wherry at 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 http://www.royallsboatyard.com 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 new 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. 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.
* See Card of the Month for May, below

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 under 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 


                     

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 by Jarrold & Sons of Norwich.

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 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 bank 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.


                                                  The Card of the month for 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 fairly 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. http://www.ludhamarchive.org.uk   

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.


                                        The Card of the Month for 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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