River Bure
 Postcards from the Norfolk Broads.net 

The River Bure

                                                                                                                                  Photo © John Hinde Ltd

It might be argued that the River Bure is at the very heart of the Norfolk Broads? It has on its banks the so called 'Capital of the Broads' at Wroxham and the beautiful village of Horning, the darling of the postcard photographers. Along its way is the highest concentration of beautiful and navigable Broads in the region and it has two important tributaries (the Rivers Ant and Thurne) which both also provide wonderful sailing broads and river cruising. It makes sense then to start our cruise, near the head of navigation of the River Bure,
at Coltishall, on a lovely summer’s day, around 1966.

The Mayfair class ‘May Queen’ appears to have turned in the river having just cast off from moorings at the ‘Rising Sun’ pub opposite. ‘May Queen’ was a 38ft. 8 Berth cruiser on hire from Mill Stream (Boat Hire) Oulton Broad.

Still at her moorings opposite is ‘Saturn G’ an aft cockpit, 31ft, 4 berth cruiser from Robin G Smith Ltd of Brundall and just in sight, on the left, is ‘Sand-Piper’ a four berth from Sanderson Marine Craft Ltd of Reedham that was probably in hire from that yard for around thirty years?

Three craft that have all travelled a fair distance to be in Coltishall at the same time?

                                      © Hoseasons Holidays Ltd 1969                                                                    © Hoseasons Holidays Ltd 1969         

                                                                                                                                                   Copyright J. Salmon Ltd., Sevenoaks, Kent © 

A mile and a half downstream of Coltishall lies the sleepy village of Belaugh, pictured here on one of those halcyon days of summer that we only seem able to look back upon these days? My copy of this card was posted in the year 2000 but, judging from the collection of cars parked by the riverside, I would say it was actually photographed in the early 1960’s.

You can just see the green roofed boat sheds of Belaugh Boats which had been those of A.J.Yaxley until the late 1960’s. This firm had for hire ‘Marina’, a very similar yacht to the one here, around this time. However, close examination of this smart yacht has not provided a positive identification; although it is probably reasonable to say that she flies the burgee of Jack Powles & Company at Wroxham. In that case it seems likely that she is of their ‘Wanderbird’ or ‘Dragonfly’ classes of three and four berth, gaff rigged yachts.

                                                                                                                                                  Photo © John Hinde Ltd

A little further downstream but still in Belaugh (which the locals pronounce “Beeler”) we see another example of the work of Edmund Nägele; who also took the earlier photograph at Coltishall. My little collection (29) of Edmund’s postcards can be found on the ‘Acknowledgements’ page. The cabin cruiser seen here is a ‘Glistening Light’ class, four berth, from the yard of Herbert Woods at Potter Heigham. The four boats in this class were built around 1960 and were one of the new designs from that company; although by this time Herbert Woods himself had passed away. 

In his lifetime, and beyond, Herbert was possibly the most famous person involved in the boat hire business of the Broads and although references to him will be found throughout the website an article outlining his history can be found on the Lower River Bure page.

Wroxham and Hoveton St. John
                                                                                                                       Copyright J. Salmon Ltd., Sevenoaks, Kent ©
A few miles downstream we come to the twin villages of Wroxham and Hoveton St John, which are divided by the river. Together they are considered to be the 'Capital of the Broads' and partly because of the phonetically alliterative image of 'Roys of Wroxham' the whole area has usually been referred to as Wroxham. It seems to me that, more recently, there is a movement towards correct reference to Hoveton, the village on the north bank of the Bure; which the locals refer to as Hoftun.
In this view, we see the River Bure, looking downstream towards Wroxham Bridge from the ‘King’s Head’ moorings, just as we would see it, were we arriving from Coltishall by river. This was probably photographed around 1945 but could possibly even be pre-war. The card appears in the ‘Salmon Series’ immediately before the Horning Staithe picture which appeared in Blake’s ‘Holidays Afloat’ - 1947 edition. In 1934 Arthur Ransome stayed at the Kings Head following an emergency appendectomy. He spent some time fishing from the lawns but sadly this is not the great man. That would be too good to be true!

Opposite we can be see various trip launches belonging to the Ambrose Thrower company and, nearby, one of  Charles Hannaford’s ‘Broads Tours’ craft which was based near here above the King's Head. Beyond the bridge we can make out the grain store which was used by Roys’ as a warehouse at this time.

The two cabin cruisers are ‘Herbert Woods 42’s’ i.e. The ‘Princess of Light’ class of five, 42ft, 8 Berth motor cruisers. In this case: ‘Highness of Light’ (B774) and ‘Peeress of Light’ (B771). Both boats have their canopies folded in preparation for negotiating the bridge and one might speculate that the two crews were holidaying in company, which is not an uncommon practice on the Broads.

Equally, it may simply be that it was a very hot day? Clearly, anglers had considerably larger handkerchiefs in the 1940’s!

These craft commenced building as 8 Berths in the early 1930's and some were re-named in 1939 when the main saloon berths were changed. Originally the 42' Class were fitted with a bathroom but the baths were all removed  and the galleys re-modelled during the early 1950's. 'Peeress of Light' left the hire fleet in 1967 and 'Highness of Light' was gone by 1980. The remaining classic Woods' 'Light Cruisers' soldiered on for a few more years but all had left the hire fleet by 1985. Nevertheless fifty years in-hire is highly commendable. Of course some of these boats are still around today; in private ownership.

We see here that a week in the high season of 1975 would have cost £119. The equivalent hire charge just before the war was £22 a week; only £1 more than when these cruisers were brand new.

                                                                                                                                                                                     © Blakes Holiday Boating 1975


                                                                                                  Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd

This card dates from just after World War 2, most probably late 1946? It has been a favourite in my collection for some time but I have only just got around to uploading it because I wasn’t thinking the view brought anything new to the story really? Anyone familiar with the Broads, as remembered on this website, will instantly recognise the origins of the cruiser in the foreground (a Herbert Woods’ Dawning Light class) and the location; above Wroxham Bridge. What had intrigued me about the scene though, was the sheer number of other cruisers moored nearby and at the Horse Shoes Hotel that appear to be the designs of Fred and [his son] Martin Miller from Oulton Broad? It seemed unlikely to me that they should all happen to be here at the same time? Then the light began dawning on me (see what I did there?) albeit in my usual glimmer of rather dim candle power!

World War Two had spelled the end for Frederick Miller’s Yacht Station and family business at Oulton Broad. At the outbreak of the war boat hire operations were suspended throughout the Broads. Fred was in his late seventies and his son Martin had become very ill and looked unlikely to be able to carry on the business. His [Fred’s] daughter Pippa had also been involved with the family business earlier but had chosen to pursue another career, in teaching, so Fred decided it was time to retire.

Sadly neither Fred nor Martin saw peace return to Broadland! Martin died in 1941 at only thirty years of age and his father died just two years later; by then Fred was eighty years old.

My feeling is that this picture must have been taken just at the time that the Miller fleet was being disposed of, after the War, and they were all there for the boat auction that took place here twice a year. In fact ‘Irelands’ the Norwich Chartered Auctioneers are still conducting Spring and Autumn sales of boats and related items in Hoveton to this day.

Just upstream of the ‘Light’ cruiser is a Miller ‘Tess’ class and (I think) ‘Bunty’ with the raised Cabin roof. This cruiser was later on hire from W.B. Hoseason as ‘Brumas’ in the few years before newly built designs began to take over. Near the Horse Shoes Hotel we can see several more craft of the ‘Tess’, ‘Arrow’ and ‘Fleet Wing’ classes. The ‘Arrow’ class boats went back to Oulton Broad and joined the C.B. Darby fleet after a name change to ‘Lucky Days 1-3’ (more on this near the bottom of the Extras page) a change which took place in time for the 1947 season. I have not seen evidence of the larger Fleet Wing class in any holiday fleets so must presume they were either bought by private individuals or perhaps an independent firm such as Jenner’s of Thorpe?

                                                                                                                Copyright J. Salmon Ltd., Sevenoaks, Kent ©

Another view: Just above Wroxham bridge, around 1960. The principal interest is ‘Dawn Mist’ a 33ft cruiser of four berths, built in the traditional ‘flush decked’ style; which was popular before the last war. She is on hire from Clifford E. Allen of Coltishall. This yard’s founder; John Allen, situated their premises on the bend of the river just below the old ‘Anchor’ Hotel. The earliest brochure [I have] in which Dawn Mist appears is Blakes – 1950. Therefore, and because this is the only reference I can find, I am unsure if Clifford Allen built this particular boat or bought her in. Hers’ was an old fashioned style in 1950 but I believe that some boats were built to the older designs, just after the war, to restore the craft lost due to war duties and neglect; as quickly as possible.

This yard was the home of one of the oldest boat building businesses on the Broads. The firm was one of those most famous for the building of Wherries in the 19th Century. ‘Ella’ -  the last ever trading wherry to be built, was launched here in 1912. She survived well into the 1960’s; ending her days, like a few others, as a motor wherry.  Allen’s yard continued to build and hire out pleasure craft but ceased trading in1974 and has now been replaced by modern waterside properties.

                                                                                               © Blakes Holiday Boating 1950

                                                                               Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd

The view from Wroxham Road Bridge looking back towards the previous viewpoint, but a little later on, thought to be in the early 1960’s?

The larger cruiser is of the 30ft 6in. ‘Merry Days’ and ‘Jolly Days’ pair of 5 berths from the Horning yard of F.B. Wilds. At least one of the ‘Merry Days’ class (A991) was to be renamed ‘Fair Countess’ when ownership was later transferred to Faircraft at Wroxham.

The smaller cruiser features in other postcards but initially proved difficult to identify conclusively as there were other similar boats on hire from John Loynes and A.J.Yaxley. I am now confident that she is "Gay Princess" also on hire from F.B.Wilds at Horning.

The large Houseboat on the Hoveton bank famously appears in very many views of this location. She is "Water Lily" and was on hire through Hoseasons but I am not sure who owned her.

                                                                                                                             © Hoseasons Holidays Ltd 1958

From1966 onwards; Wilds’ began to turn away from their, rather smart, varnished wooden cruisers in favour of producing the very latest style of “walk through” forward drive ‘Carribean’ cruisers to their own design and built in GRP. Eventually, demand was so high that Wilds built a production line at Loddon (Carribean Craft) and concentrated on supplying these, and similar, craft to yards all over the broads.

The Caribbeans and their smaller sisters the Bermudans may have initially been anathema to traditional wooden boat lovers (or was it just me?) but their practicality and popularity cannot be denied. The design led to the production of numerous others of similar style that were prevalent in many fleets for years to come. I even hired one myself once, for a February cruise, it was ideal for that purpose.

                                                                                                                                        © Hoseasons Holidays Ltd 1969

Of course: one might argue that (apart from the building material) there was nothing really that new about the concept of these designs? The earliest motor cabin cruisers, which became popular in the 1920's, came in two basic forms. The aft cockpit type with the hull sides built to full deck-head hight for the forward cabin and what I have referred to as the 'Launch Type' which featured a forward steering position and a single level, walk through, cabin accommodation. Leo Robinson's 'Lavengro' is just such an example:

                                                                     © Blakes Holiday Boating 1935

                                                                                                                                                                          Copyright J. Salmon Ltd., Sevenoaks, Kent ©

I couldn’t resist this one, even though there is insufficient detail to name many of the hire boats. For me, it has a nostalgic charm and atmosphere that assured its later inclusion. I would say that this card was from a photograph taken in the late 1950’s. Clearly, the reprint has been extensively re-touched with bright yellows, reds and blues that jump out at you. This is the most obvious example of colour retouching that I have seen; but it was clearly a common practice and means that occasionally we will have to take the finish of a boat with a pinch of salt.

The holidaymakers waiting for their steamer to depart are on board the famous “Queen of the Broads” one of a small fleet belonging to the Yarmouth and Gorleston Steamboat Company. This steamer made daily trips from Yarmouth to Wroxham, and back, throughout the June to September season. She was built in 1889 and worked right up until 1976 when she was finally retired and broken up. She had two passenger decks and her funnel would be lowered to pass under the bridges.


As I say: I cannot identify the other boats with any real confidence but the slightly scruffy looking cruiser in the foreground, whose crew seem to be restoring the windscreen, after coming under the bridge; is ‘Caprimo’ a 30ft four berth from A. R. Skitteral & Co’s yard at the Queens Head Hotel, St Olaves. Their yard was by the Haddiscoe Bridge on the New Cut.

Skitteral’s were members of the “Red Whale Boat-owners Association” whose bookings were arranged through R.B. Bradbeer Ltd, a comparatively short lived rival to Blakes and Hoseasons which traded from around 1961 to 1973. Many R.W.B.A. members were from the smaller boatyards but some of their number were large and well known yards. Most famously: Brinkcraft, incorporating C & G Press, at Hoveton (where they had a branch based at the Beehive stores) but also Jenner Bros. at Thorpe, Swancraft at Brundall and Martham Boat Building and Development Company were all members.

Ahead of the ‘Queen’ are the old sheds of  Jack Powles & Co. (Previously Alfred Collins & Co Ltd) The wherry yachts that we can see ahead would almost certainly have been from the Ernest Collins fleet; perhaps Olive and White Moth. By 1959, both of whom, were only in hire as Houseboats at this location. On this day we can see that the nearest Wherry yacht is fully rigged which suggests that the picture was taken no later than1957 or 1958. Olive and Norada (another Collins wherry Yacht) are now in the hands of the Wherry Yacht Charter Trust, undergoing further restorations, and White Moth is in commission with the Norfolk Broads Yachting Company at Horning. The little cluster of cabin cruisers on the far bank are at the ‘Windboats’ premises of Graham Bunn. The Ernest Collins & Sons family business were located opposite the Hoveton bank just downstream of the Windboats premises.  

                                                                                                    Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd.

Downstream of Wroxham’s road bridge, in the late 1940's. John Loynes & Sons’ yard is on the left. The black building to the right is Wroxham Grain Store (sometimes referred to as Wroxham Mill or one of the ‘Two Mills’) which by the time of this picture was employed as a warehouse by the “world’s largest village store” Roy’s of Wroxham. The building was demolished around 1966.

The “pleasure wherry” is ‘Hathor’ (pronounced Hart-or) and she is in the process of raising her sail, possibly after passing under the road bridge. Possibly leaving moorings at the Loynes' yard where she frequently appears in photographs?

Wherries had a boom less “loose footed” gaff rig which helped them to drop their mast quickly and ‘shoot’ under the bridges without stopping. Pleasure wherries were heavily ‘clinker built’ in the same way as working wherries but, rather than a large hold, had private cabins for the guests and a spacious saloon, usually containing a full size piano for the evening’s entertainment. They could also be distinguished by their smart white sails as skippers of working craft would treat their new sails with a mixture of coal tar, neatsfoot (or herring) oil  and lamp black to waterproof the canvas and extend the sail’s working life.

Pleasure Wherries came into their fore in the early twentieth century, as holidays on the Broads became popular with the middle classes and many trading wherries were converted for this purpose, sometimes reverting to haulage in the off season. In the early 1900’s a pleasure wherry such as ‘Reindeer’ or ‘Chloe’ could accommodate ten guests and be rented, in the high season, for around Fourteen Guineas a week, including the services of a Skipper to sail the craft and an Attendant to assist and provide catering etc. This equates to around £950 today. Or £1460 when comparing average earnings weighted for inflation. Average earnings were around £5 per week in 1916 but that amount had buying power equivalent to nearly £300 today.

Wherry ‘Yachts’ such as ‘White Moth’ and ‘Olive’ were purpose built to a finer quality [normally] carvel construction and design. They, were really very large yachts of the best type built in that era, rigged like a wherry. Typically, they had elegant ‘counter’ sterns which allowed that the guests could be seated astern of the helmsman and main sheet, thus remaining undisturbed by the tacking and manoeuvring of the ship. Wherry ‘Yachts’ were slightly less spacious but could be hired on similar terms to the Pleasure Wherries. Aboard both types, the crew would be accommodated in a tiny separate cabin, aft, similar to that in traditional trading wherries, or in the forepeak.

All trading and pleasure wherries sported unique designs at their mast heads and weather vanes, which were known as “Jenny Morgans” after the popular use of a metal vane in the shape of a traditional Welsh Lady.  In this way wherry skippers could identify an approaching rival or friend from some distance away by the sight of their mast top over the marshes. Just as, in this way, we can be sure that the smart craft in our picture is ‘Hathor’.

Hathor is a very special example of pleasure wherry because of her unique history and survival to the present day: She was built in 1905 by Daniel Hall of Reedham, a famous builder of trading wherries. She was commissioned by the sisters,  Ethel and Helen Colman, daughters of Jeremiah J. Colman the well known, Norwich, Mustard manufacturer.

The wherry “Hathor” (the Egyptian Goddess of Love and Joy, the Sky and the West) was named in memory of the sisters’ younger brother, Alan, who had passed away whilst convalescing in Luxor, Egypt shortly after having taken a river trip in a traditional sailing vessel of the same name.

To continue the theme, the interior and fittings were designed by the sisters’ brother in-law (Edward Boardman the Norwich architect who built his home at ‘How Hill’ on the River Ant) using Egyptian hieroglyphics, artefacts and furnishing designs seen at the British Museum.

At the time of this postcard picture Hathor would still have been in the ownership of the Boardman family. However, in 1954 she was sold to Claud Hamilton who produced the popular Hamilton’s Guide books to the Broads. Ten years later she went on to Jimmy Brown’s ‘Martham Boat Development Company’ where she was used for occasional staff holidays and hired out to visitors as a house boat, moored near the yard.  Coincidentally the craft moored to the right in the picture is ‘Janet’ a traditional 31’ 6” cabin cruiser of five berths, on hire from that same yard. Janet appears elsewhere in this series.                                                                               
In 1985, Hathor passed to the ‘Wherry Yacht Charter Trust’ and was sailing once more by 1987. She is still considered the ‘flag ship’ of the trust to this day.

The other craft, dwarfed by the passing Hathor in the picture postcard is thought to be of O. A. King’s (Wroxham) “Crimson Dawn” class. Perhaps: B894 ‘Shining Dawn’ a contemporary cruiser of 28 feet and four berths. This class of cruiser was on hire for £30/10/0d a week, in the high season of 1948 an increase of £5 or 16.6% from the previous year!

                                                                                                        © Blakes Holiday Boating 1938

                                                                                                                                                     A 'Colour Master-International' Postcard

Another, later, view showing Wroxham Bridge and the Grain Store. This time pictured during the late 1960’s and with plenty to interest us. In the foreground are the premises of John Loynes & Sons with several of their hire fleet moored stern-on and awaiting their hirers.

Nearest to the camera is the oldest of the group: ‘Kingfisher 2’ one of a class of two centre cockpit, two berth, cruisers built in the late 1930’s and on hire from this yard until, around,1970.

                                                           © Blakes Holiday Boating 1965
Alongside her is ‘Loch Lomond’ a more modern four berth, centre cockpit, cruiser. She was built in the later 1950’s and is a good example, from that period, when the established firms were still busily restoring the hire fleet numbers following the war, with many wooden craft designed and built in-house. Loch Lomond remained in-hire from John Loynes & Sons until the early 1980’s when the firm was merged with Faircraft to become Faircraft-Loynes and the fleet was completely modernised.

                                                                                                © Blakes Holiday Boating 1965

Just visible behind Loch Lomond is a ‘Bittern’ class four berth cruiser. This class of three resemble a pre-war type design but they were actually built just after WW2. This was a common practice just after the war when there was a rush to build replacement hire boats and old plans were utilised to save time. Bittern and her sisters remained in the Loynes fleet until the late 1970’s although they did have their names changed to Loch Sunart, Loch Turret & Loch Fleet, in line with their other classes, at the beginning of that decade.

                       ©  Blakes Holiday Boating 1973                                                                                                       © Hoseasons Ltd 1969                                                                                                                                     
Passing by and prepared to navigate the bridge (you didn’t need a pilot in those days) is a Broom ‘Captain’ class. A roomy 35ft four berth built by C.J. Broom at Brundall but it is my belief that this example is the ‘Lady Ann’ an example bought by the small and comparatively short lived firm of Burecraft who were based at Summercaft in Hoveton during the 1960’s. The Summercraft fleet also included a Broom Captain: ‘Glamour Girl’ and both were listed as five berths.  

                                                                                                         Copyright J. Salmon Ltd., Sevenoaks, Kent ©

Cruising downstream away from Wroxham Bridge the Hoveton and Wroxham banks are dotted with picturesque thatched holiday homes and buildings. This is the famous ‘Beehive’ Riverside Store at the entrance to Daisy Broad, and its two boat dykes; pictured here in the early 1970’s. The craft emerging from her home dyke is ‘Glenmore 2’ a six berth cruiser; based on the Bourne 35 design and on hire from R. Moore & Sons. Glenmore was new in 1965 and had a GRP hull which would have been bought in as a bare-boat to be fitted out at Moore’s yard. As can be seen in this extract from Moore’s brochure of that year, it was common practice to use a drawing of new boats which may not have been completed when the latest brochures went to press in time for the new year.

                                                                  Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd

This firm built high quality wooden cabin cruisers and operated their hire fleet independently, for many years. However, following a change of management in the mid -1970’s the firm became known as Moores of Wroxham and joined the “Norfolk & Suffolk Broads Yacht Owners Association”. Thereafter bookings were arranged through the Blake’s organisation. This is their advert from the 1963 “What to do on the Norfolk Broads” published by Jarrolds who also produced Moore’s own catalogues; whilst they remained independent.

                                                                                                                Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd

                                                                                                                                                     Postcard by ‘Coastal Cards’ of Holland-on-Sea        

For me this slightly earlier picture of the Beehive is one of those rare examples that really captures the spirit of a Broads holiday in the heydays of the 1960’s. It’s a glorious day and the young male crew of Herbert Woods’ ‘Delight 10’ have paused, in their swim wear, to buy provisions at the stores. Delight looks very smartly turned out and with hind sight this class has become very much a personal favourite. There is more information about the Delight class, a little later on, in the Horning section. The Beehive Store was the home of Fred Brinkhoff who also operated his hire firms ‘Brinkcraft’ and C. & G. Press from Daisy Broad to the rear of this location.

                                                                                                                                 Photo © John Hinde Ltd

Just across the dyke from the Beehive Stores was the Bure Court Hotel, seen here in the late 1960’s and looking freshly refurbished; originally the large glassed area was an open veranda with rustic roof supports. The Hotel had originally been built in the 1920's as a private house.
Moored alongside is ‘Shari’ a distinctive mahogany cruiser, of six berths, from Alan Johnson Boats (previously Faircraft) at Acle. The picture (below) from the Hoseasons catalogue of 1976 actually shows her sister ’Shallock’

                                                                                                                                                   © Hoseasons Ltd 1976

Leaving Wroxham behind us now we have a cruise of around five miles to the next village; the beautiful and linear Horning. Along our way we pass by the lovely Wroxham and Salhouse Broads.

                                                                                                 Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd

This is Wroxham Broad, the home of the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club and the Wroxham Week Regatta. The broad is privately owned and leased to the Yacht Club which was formed from the amalgamation of four local sailing clubs: Horning Town and the Yare and Bure Sailing Clubs, Great Yarmouth Yacht Club and the Norfolk Dinghy Club. It was this amalgamation, in 1937, that enabled the joint finances needed to secure the lease of the broad.

Wroxham Broad has no public moorings but access is not restricted, and you can anchor. Of course, visitors should be careful to avoid any hindrance of the racing fleets. The resident club provides racing for various yacht and dinghy classes and includes several of the local ‘One-Designs’. In the centre of this picture we can see a lovely “top sail gaffer” of the River Cruiser class which includes many beautifully preserved vintage yachts of the generic Broads type. Both ex-hire yachts and craft designed specifically for racing compete in this class.

In the foreground we have an example of the one-design classes: she is a ‘Waveney’ O.D. a 22ft 6in. Gunter rigged keel boat. Boats of this class are all named after marsh plants and this is WOD 9 ‘Samphire’.

                                                                                                                                                                   © www.judges.co.uk

In this second view we can see
two more examples of the local one-design classes. The boat centre of picture is a ‘Rebel’ a small class of elegant 22ft 9in. Gunter rigged keel boats which all have Rebel in their names; this example being number 9, ‘Rebel Breeze’.

The other two yachts, locally known as “White Boats”, are Yare and Bure One-Designs. These yachts are not dissimilar in appearance to the Waveney O.D. but are slightly smaller at 20 foot in length. The white boats were designed by Ernest Woods (the uncle of Herbert Woods) and are named after Butterflies; although it is a popular class and some of the later boats have had to be named after Moths due to the limited number of butterfly species. 

On our left we have YBOD 53 ‘Purple Cloud’ built in1936 by Ernest Woods and to the right is YBOD 72 ‘Faun’ built at the yard of Herbert Woods in 1963.

Herbert Woods was also responsible for the ‘Norfolk Dinghy’ a popular 14ft, one-design, which was clinker built in mahogany and created at a fixed cost to avoid the increasingly expensive purchase of a National 14ft dinghy (the International 14 of today) which cost more than twice as much to buy in the 1930’s.

Although I do not have a picture, we should also mention the “Brown Boats” (sometimes called BODS) which are the ‘Broads One Design’ class. These yachts are the oldest of the one-designs and are graceful, 24ft, Gaff rigged craft with elegant overhangs and counter stern. They are all named after Birds and have no sail insignia other than their number but each yacht has her own individual burgee.  

Today, Hunter’s Yard has three, boats of these classes, which can be hired by the day: ‘Buff Tip’ a YBOD, ‘Sundew’ a Waveney O.D. and for experienced sailors only, ’Rebel Reveller’.


                                                                                                Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd

This is the much photographed Salhouse Broad; just off the main river and pictured here in the early 1960’s.

At the moorings, we have two craft from the Martham Boat Building and Development Company. Left of centre is ‘Janice 1’ a 26ft cruiser of four berths. Her larger sister to the right is ‘Juliette’ a 39ft, seven berth. Both of the cruisers have varnished hulls which suggests to me that they were relatively new when the picture was taken. These boats were built in the late 1950’s and this photograph appeared on the cover of the 1963 edition of “What to do on the Norfolk Broads” published by Jarrold & Sons, so that does help to date the postcard. These two cruisers remained in hire for very many years and, indeed, some of their class are still available from ‘Martham Boats’ today.

It is probably worth observing that when a boat’s hull was ‘planked’ with hardwood (such as Mahogany or, occasionally, Oak ) it was common to present them with varnished hulls to show off the quality of their build. Eventually, the knocks and scratches they incurred in the hands of the, often inexperienced, hirers would begin to take their toll. In the worst cases: hulls may even be holed and repaired with ‘short’ planks. When it was no longer easy to maintain their best appearance, the hull would be painted to return the craft to its smartest turnout. There are numerous examples of this but I can’t help reflecting that the Hunter Fleet yachts, which must be amongst the oldest boats in-hire on the Broads, are still presented in their original varnished mahogany.

Lying between the M.B.B. & D. Co. boats is a yard neighbour, W463 ‘Laura 5’, a 24ft, two berth from Laura Craft, also at Martham and later to become Martham Ferry Boats. Laura Craft cruisers had a distinctive and (to my mind) rakish appearance. In this case, the reverse sheer is almost suggestive of Thames ‘slipper launch’ style. It may be significant that the boats were not actually designed or built in Norfolk but were commissioned in Sheffield, the home town of the yard’s founders; the Headland family.

I have been unable to ‘prove’ the identity of, Y435, the rear cockpit cruiser on our left but I believe her to be of the ‘Ebb Tide’ class of 27ft, four berths from Tidecraft at Brundall.

I am also unable to name the yachts but I must admit, I do like the handy little ‘gaffer’ sailing past (similar perhaps to the 18ft 'Merry' class from John Loynes & Sons? I had also considered 'Jenny' from Martham but am assured by my visitor Myer Rosen that it is not she.) and am curious about the party cruising in the dinghy. Look at the height of her mast! She must be quite a racy craft under sail? Perhaps an early ‘Star’ or ‘Sharpie’ the hard chine hull does not look like a Norfolk Punt to me.

                                                                                                    Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd

One of my favourite postcards, on this website, is the view of Potter Heigham Bridge with the young angler, complete with bobble hat, fishing in the River Thurne. However, I had to reconsider my identification of the yacht in that picture and conclude that it was not in fact a “Twilight” class as I had first thought. I think we can be more confident with this example.

On this idyllic summer’s day around 1960 we have a Herbert Woods “Twilight” at anchor in Salhouse Broad. You can see her roof raised with the solid side panels, typical of Woods’ yachts, and the scalloped cabin sides at the full width of her hull. The Twilight class was unusual in that they were described as Cruiser-Yachts and had dual steering: A tiller for sailing and a wheel on the cabin bulkhead for motoring. They were also unusual for Herbert Woods fleet in that they were Gunter rigged; I suppose that meant that the shorter spars were easier to stow whilst motoring, should one wish to do so, as in the picture below. Rather typically the yacht in the main brochure picture doesn’t display the forward extension to the cabin sides that is seen above. However, these were individually hand built yachts and minor detail changes did take place.

                                                                                                            © Blakes Holiday Boating 1965


                                                                                                             Copyright J. Salmon Ltd., Sevenoaks, Kent ©

This is a favourite, please take a moment to absorb the detail. The picture is truly evocative of ‘Coot Club’ days when the Broadland rivers were relatively un-congested. The old Broadland riverside industries, such as the Maltings here, which relied upon the Wherry men had all but disappeared but the holiday hire fleets had not really recovered from the war years or reached their peak, which probably came some thirty years later.

There is nothing of the peaceful scene that could not be pre-war but I expect it is a little later. This Swan Hotel was built in 1897 but the black and white timbered façade of the main building was developed later and was finished in stages that had not reached this extent until the late 1930’s. The attached single storey building, this side of the hotel, was extended to two floors in the early 1950’s.

One can very rarely be precise as to the year a photograph was taken and I had guessed this to be around 1950 with the above considerations in  mind. However I have since discovered its inclusion in the Blakes catalogue of 1947 which, by definition, means that the picture must not have been taken later than 1946.

Given the peacefulness and lack of obvious holidaying evidence in the scene, my feeling is that maybe it was pictured towards the end of the war when restrictions began to be lifted but the boat hire industry was not yet fully active again.

                                                                                                                                 Copyright J. Salmon Ltd., Sevenoaks, Kent ©

And they say that nostalgia isn't what it used to be! Who could fail to be charmed by this next scene at Horning Staithe? The lady in her summer “frock” with her child in baggy shorts and the development of the Swan all suggest that this was pictured in the late 1950’s, around ten years after the previous view.

The boat is Herbert Woods' Delight VII. We will see more of the Delight class very shortly. 

                                                                                                                                                      A James Valentine & Sons, Dundee, Postcard

Lower Street - Horning, showing Sims’ Store and the Post Office. The Horning branch of Roys’ can also be seen in the distance, behind the black van. This postcard is thought to date from around1959.

The new looking red car is an ‘F’ series Vauxhall Victor, registered in Norwich. This model was produced from 1957 to 1961. Registration plate formats were changed in the late 1950’s to show numerals first, letters second but individual registration authorities would only adopt the new format when they had allocated all their examples of the previous style. Therefore, Norwich could have registered over two thousand new vehicles after this Vauxhall, before changing. I cannot help but speculate that the two gentlemen waiting to cross the street are boatbuilders from the nearby Banham's yard.

                                                                                                                                                                   An ‘Ernest Joyce’ of Norwich postcard 

The opposite view of Lower Street. The two-tone green Rover 3 Litre parked by the road sign suggests that this was pictured in the late 1960’s. The Austin Princess Limousine model was produced in the 1950’s and may have been a hire car belonging to Horning Motors?

                                                                                                        Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd

Two more views of Horning ‘Town Reach’ the Swan Hotel and The Staithe. Both postcards are believed to have been photographed in the mid -1950’s.

The above picture, looking downstream, shows the pub with the second storey added to the extension. That second storey was added around 1955 and this card was posted in 1959.

At the moorings is a very smart, privately owned, ‘Gentleman’s’ Motor Yacht not dissimilar to ‘Two Sams’ built in the early 1950’s by Herbert Woods Ltd. at Potter Heigham. She also reminds me very much of a private motor yacht,
which I saw in 1960; named, I think, “Aquagem”.

The distinctive craft on the river is believed to be a ‘Sea Duke’ class cruiser of 39ft 6in. and six berths. A bright varnished version [Sea Baron] was built in1939 at the yard of A. G. Ward in Thorpe St Andrew (note the trademark scrolled nameplate at her bow) and could be distinguished from her class sisters by her varnished, rather than white, hull. She also had the advantage of the latest V8 marine engine, which might have made her more than a match for Arthur Ransome’s Margoletta?

However, ‘Sea Baron’ is not listed in the 1947 Bakes ‘Holidays Afloat’; or later editions! Pre-war, three craft are listed: Sea Duke, Sea Earl and Sea Baron. In 1947 Sea Duke remains but her sisters are listed as Sea Prince and Sea Queen. Since many craft were lost or damaged beyond repair during the war (largely through commandeering for the war effort) this is probably not Sea Baron unless she was renamed as sometimes took place?

Given my observations [above] about the date that this view was pictured it seems more likely that this is a newly built, post war, craft. In that case it would seem most probable that she is 'Sea Earl' which was new to the fleet in 1952.

June 2017: Recent correspondence with Mark James, who owns 'Sea Prince', leads me to reconsider this identification. Sea Prince had more distinctive flair in her topsides and camber in her foredeck; making her distinguishable from her class sisters. Features that are evident in the postcard and the later picture of Sea Prince below: This postcard image dates from c.1965 when the Ward fleet was bought up by the new owners of Jenner's of Thorpe. the boats were still described as in hire from "Wards" until Jenner's were, in turn, bought by the Caister Group around 1971.

Below:1954 Brochure picture of the new 'Sea Earl' at Thorpe Hall next to Alfred G. Ward's boatyard; from a postcard. This clearly demonstrates how her deck camber is much shallower than that of 'Sea Prince' above.


                                                                                                                                      Copyright J. Salmon Ltd., Sevenoaks, Kent ©

The second card was posted in 1968 but the picture is probably a little earlier circa 1960? A Herbert Woods ‘Leading Lady’ class yacht slips by the Staithe where is moored another from the same yard, the 24ft. 3berth and aptly named ‘Delight’ cruiser class.

Outside the Swan is a ‘Kimiline’ 6 berther of 39ft 6in. from the yard of Porter and Haylett at Wroxham. The pre-war styled cruiser moored in the foreground is thought to be probably of the 35ft ‘Dawn Star’ class from Jack Powles Ltd. also at Wroxham.

The ‘Delight’ cruisers had two internal layout designs and were distinguished as two groups by the use of odd and even class numbers:

                                                                                                                                                                          © Blakes Holiday Boating 1959

                                                                                                                   © Hoseasons Holidays Ltd 1969

                                                                                                                                                                             Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons

This is a favourite by Jarrold’s of Norwich and I was aware of the image, before the post card, because it appears on the cover of R. Moore & Sons brochure for 1965. It took me a little while longer to find my own copy of the postcard though. Ralph Moore started his yard at Hoveton before the 1938 -1945 War and was known for building high quality cabin cruisers; usually from mahogany. They were built to last rather than the more usual practice of building to a cost and a limited lifetime in-hire. It is a testament to the quality of Moore’s boats that a good few survive, in private hands, to this day. The other distinguishing feature of this firm was that they remained independent from the letting agencies such as Blakes and Hoseasons almost to the end when they were incorporated with the Barnes-Brinkcraft fleet at the end of the twentieth century. Their brochures were produced at the Jarrold’s printing works and, in the 1960’s, the cover designs usually incorporated images from Jarrold’s postcard catalogue; often those that showed Moore’s own boats.

So this is scene dates from 1963 or 1964 and the cabin cruiser passing the lawns beside the Swan Hotel at Horning is ‘Merrimore’ the latest and most up-to date addition to Moore’s fleet at the time. She is 41ft long and has accommodation for a crew of seven. She was outstanding in her day and remains in pristine condition. That is to say, judging by the brokerage details, when she was for sale recently (under her new name of ‘Alexandrian Pearl’) with an asking price of just under £50,000. Her name had been changed to 'Pearl Emblem' when she was owned by the Henley Organisation and based at Ernest Collins & Sons of Wroxham.


I don’t suppose our friend here would have quite such a good view from his chair today because he might have the ‘Southern Comfort’ paddle steamer slap in his way but hey-ho that’s progress, I suppose? Not my actual thoughts but I have a rule about expressing my own opinions on this site! Back in the 1960’s he could see several more wooden cruisers and on the other side of the river a foot-bridge? That was the site of Southgate’s (so called) “Main Yard” which was developed after the War by Herbert Woods and Co. Until 1939 this had been the site of Richard Southgate’s boat yard. That was before the boat shed burned down right at the start of World War Two. This was an accidental fire and nothing to do with the hostilities, however several precious boats had been stored on the premises for safety which was both very sad and I suppose rather ironic really?  Richard and his younger brother William removed to the premises next to the New Inn but unfortunately neither survived the war period. Those were the premises that survive and are still better known as Southgate’s Yard, these days.

So after the War: Herbert Woods & Co. developed the site opposite. Cutting a dyke and a basin for the fleet of new yachts and cabin cruisers that were built at Potter Heigham ‘Summer Breeze’ and ‘Fair Breeze’ sailing classes which were similar to the Woods’ ‘Fair Lady’ and ‘Fine Lady’ classes. Motor cruisers were also available in the form of the ‘Gliding Stream’ class which were similar to the Woods’ ‘Star Lights’. When the basin was enlarged the footbridge, seen here, replaced an earlier example which was lower and further back from the main river. Prior to 1966 or 1967 the Sheds by the New Inn had been part of the estate used by H.T. Percival’s operations but after his retirement the Herbert Woods company began to use them and henceforth they were referred to as Southgate’s “Lower Street” and the premises in this view became known as Southgate’s “Main Yard”. Most of the yachts had been sold off in the early 1970’s and Lower Street was not used (by Woods’ after 1979) but quite a large fleet remained at the ‘Main Yard’ for a few years more. However this was the short lived time of the large groups and corporate take-overs so in the following decline the marina site here was re-developed into a complex of waterside holiday homes. 

Unfortunately the two cabin cruisers on the right are not sufficiently in-view for a confident identification. Clearly the white boat is from ‘Hearts’ cruisers at Thorpe where they had several classes which were mostly named after playing cards such as Queen of Hearts, King of Hearts or Ten of Hearts. Despite the difference in size (32 to 41ft) they were all similar in appearance and ranged from four to eight berths in this same style. These post  cards do not magnify well but ‘Knave of Hearts’ is a possibility in this case. Likewise the varnished boat has the look of a Neatishead Boatyard (later at Richardson’s) boat like ‘Dormouse’ but this is not a perfect match.

Finally, the varnished cabin cruiser on our left is worthy of comment. She is ‘Saskia’ and her story is well known but I will re-tell it for the benefit of any visitor who might not be aware of the tale. Percy Hunter was the founder of the  famous ‘Hunter’s Yard’ at Womack, Ludham. Percy was an old school sailing man and had a strong dislike of motor boats which he allegedly referred to as Stink Boats. His fleet consisted entirely of yachts and motor boats were not made welcome at his yard. Famously he displayed a notice, at the entrance to his dyke, which informed passing motorboats that petrol was not available at the yard; to discourage any visitors in cabin cruisers from venturing into his domain. However, in the late 1950’s, Blake’s saw the increasing shift in demand towards motor cruisers and put Percy under pressure to include some in his fleet. Eventually (in 1962) it was agreed that he would take one under his charge. This was ‘Saskia’ but he was so against the idea that he would only let the boat with a mid-week start day so that she was never at the yard when his yachting customers were present! Eventually the yard was bought by Norfolk County Council for use as a base for their Schools’ sailing activities. There have been other changes since but the yard and its fleet have been preserved, more or less, as it was until this day. None of the yachts have ever been fitted with engines although several now have little electric motors for getting under bridges etc.   


Horning Ferry

                                                                                           Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd

A lovely view of Ferry Reach at Horning; looking upstream from just above the ferry. This Jarrolds image was used for the cover of Hoseasons’ 1958 “Broadland Holidays Afloat & Ashore” brochure. I suspect that it may have been selected because the smart cabin cruiser is from the small fleet set up by W.B. (Wally) Hoseason, himself, at Oulton Broad, after the war. Of course, by this time, the hands of a very young James Hoseason were at the helm of the business. He had taken over following his father’s death in 1950.

The cabin cruiser is ‘Perfidia’ a stylish 33’ 6” of varnished mahogany and with six berths. At the time of this picture Hoseasons had a fleet of seven or eight cruisers, chartered in their own name, including some new and modern cruisers like Perfidia, the eight berth ‘Mayflower’ and others of all classes, but built before the war; such as Corinthian and Melbourne, down to the 24ft, two berth, Piccolo.

                                                                                                                                                           © Hoseasons Ltd 1958

‘Mayflower’ appeared inside the front cover, apparently at Salhouse Broad:

                                                                                                                                                                 © Hoseasons Ltd 1958

                                                                                                                                                             A 'Colour Master-International' Postcard 

Another view from above Horning Ferry around 1965. This postcard is not of the highest definition but has been selected because it shows a nice cruiser from one of the smaller and less well known hire fleets. (Card replaced May 2014)

After the Second World War W.B. Hoseason had set up his Broadland Holidays booking agency and a small fleet of hire craft, of his own, at Oulton Broad. Around this enterprise were a small group of boatyards in the Oulton Broad area which became some of the earliest member firms of the Broadland Owners Association. The largest and most long lived rival to Blake’s ‘Norfolk & Suffolk Broads Yacht Owners Association’.

It seems to me that the Oulton Broad members of ‘Hoseasons’ must have co-operated to a certain extent and their early craft displayed similarities of design and quality which suggest this. I am thinking of firms like ‘Little Ships’ ‘Waveney Yacht Station’ ‘Millstream Boat Hire’ and the owner of this cruiser: J.E. Fletcher. The craft above is his ‘Whispering Winds’ which would have been fairly new when this picture was taken. It was around 1960 that J.E. Fletcher moved his fleet of about ten cabin cruisers to the Riverside Estate at Brundall. Here the firm remained until it ceased trading in the late 1970’s; never having succumbed to the shift toward GRP production boats. Several of their cruisers, including Whispering Winds, were taken into the Breydon Marine fleet at Burgh Castle. 

                                                                                                             © Hoseasons Ltd 1969


                                                                                                                 Copyright J. Salmon Ltd., Sevenoaks, Kent ©

An intriguing and delightful picture depicting the Ferry Inn after the war. This postcard was chosen for the subject’s historical interest and its relevance as a famous Broadland landmark.

The previous Inn on this site was built around 1826 (although it probably wasn't the 1st on this site) but was the unfortunate victim of enemy bombing in 1941. It is generally believed that a light was shown around closing time (probably from a car rushing to get there before last orders?) and a homeward bound German bomber opportunistically released its unused bombs? In any event; the pub, including the ferry boat itself, was destroyed and around nineteen souls lost their lives.

Apparently, the Ferry Inn was popular with RAF officers who were based at Coltishall during the War and it has been said that the famous Spitfire pilot, Douglas Bader was at the pub that very night but had left about ten or fifteen minutes before the fatal attack?

This particular postcard was posted in 1955. The picture appears to be a re-touched photograph but the Inn seems to have been painted in by hand? I suspect that this may be an artist’s impression which would make sense because the new pub was not completed until 1954. In the thirteen year interim, drinking had continued at the site in a makeshift bar constructed from the ruins and incorporating the pavilion, which was moved closer. 

The new building was completed with a traditional thatched roof, as seen here, only to suffer further misfortune in 1965 when sparks from the chimney ignited the roof and a serious fire took hold. Upon the pub’s later restoration a new tiled roof replaced the thatch.

As is to be expected, it is not really possible to identify the boats in this picture although the yacht appears to be from Southgates fleet, perhaps a 'Summer Breeze' if the insignia are part of the original photograph.

                                                                                                                         An ‘Ernest Joyce’ of Norwich postcard

Here is a real photograph postcard of the Ferry Inn for comparison purposes. It looks a beautiful day and clearly the picture is taken before the fire of 1965, probably around 1960, as the thatched roof is still intact. What a shame it had to be replaced? Thatch is so much more picturesque, particularly in these surroundings where so very many other buildings are in keeping with local tradition.

Moored alongside is a Broom ‘Captain’ class, 4 berth of 34ft 6inches. Like other craft designed by their builders these wooden Brooms have a unique style and their pedigree is instantly recognisable.

                                                                                                                                                                                   © Blakes Holiday Boating 1975

It is not possible to be so confident about the identity of Captain’s neighbour; she has the look of a
Sea Scout by A.G. Ward or perhaps she is a Graham Bunn, Windboat? However, this boat may even be a privately owned cruiser as suggested by the Red Ensign on her stern.
The sailing dinghy is, of course, an International ‘Cadet’. A 10ft 6in. class dinghy designed by Jack Holt for under seventeen year old helms to cut their racing teeth.



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