Postcards from the Norfolk Broads.net 

    River Waveney
                             St Olaves
The first (or last, if travelling downstream) good moorings on the River Waveney were to be found here at St. Olaves; overlooked by the suspension bridge which carries the A143 Yarmouth to Bury St. Edmonds road.

                                                                                                                            Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd
Looking downstream from Johnson’s Yacht Station, in the 1950’s.  Over the river is the “Bell Inn” one of the oldest and most charming pubs on the Broads and an ideal spot to spend the night when you need an early start to time your arrival in Yarmouth for slack water. The yard in the foreground was earlier known as W.G. Johnson & Son and probably began as a business before the 1914 - 1918 War. Although I do not have a precise record of this I have found W.G. Johnson listed by Blake's in 1916. The firm had a small fleet of cabin cruisers and yachts which remained little changed until the early 1970’s. In this decade the firm changed the fleet for modern GRP designs and the craft names changed to adopt a Mediterranean theme. Of course that may mean that there was a change of management but, in any event Johnson’s Yacht Station continued to trade under that name until the early 1990’s. 

In the foreground we can see “Cirrus” a 20ft two berth, of which there were three boats in the class, all built in the 1930’s . These boats were pretty much identical to the “Arrow” class built by Fred Miller at Oulton Broad and it may well be that they were also built at that yard?

Cirrus had two larger sisters ‘Nebula’ and ‘Orion’ which were also similar in style to Miller designs. Their distinctive appearance is not particularly common amongst pre-war types. The boats were built in the popular ‘launch’ style with forward steerage but rather than have a covered [forward] cockpit they had a small cabin with a raised foredeck to give headroom. This cabin was unfurnished and described as for additional storage or dressing space. These two boats disappeared from the hire list during the 1950’s but the 'Cirrus' class remained in hire until around 1970.

Ahead of Cirrus is a yacht with her mast removed; which may indicate that the picture was taken early or late in the season? The yard had two 21ft 6in. Gaff yachts: “Nimbus” 1 & 2. ‘Nimbus 2’ was described as being ‘in varnish’ and given that ‘Nimbus 1’ had a white painted hull I expect that this is most likely to be Nimbus 2.

The cabin cruiser ahead of Nimbus has not been identified, she is not of the other Johnson classes (described above) and looks more like a Woods’ Delight class?

The last boat on the moorings appears to be “Crescent” a 34ft double ended clinker craft, which resembled a converted ship’s lifeboat and was relegated to use as a Houseboat after the 2nd World War. Inside the jetty is what appears to be a Wherry yacht but I have been unable to identify her. It may be that she was also used as a houseboat, at this time, but she is not mentioned in any of my hire lists. 

                                                                                               © Blakes Holiday Boating 1965

Oulton Broad

                                                                                                                                                          A 'Colour Master-International' Postcard

Two similar views of the Yacht Station at Oulton Broad with the landmark Wherry Hotel in the background. The card above was posted in 1968 and the latter ten years later, in 1978, although I suspect that they were both photographed rather closer together than their postmarks might suggest.

Oulton Broad is the only ‘major’ navigable broad in the Southern Broadland region and is also rather unique in its atmosphere - for the Broads. It is linked to, and not difficult to reach from the rest of the region; which means the area has always played its part as a centre for boat building and Broadland holidays. However, its location is rather removed from the popular northern centres and Oulton has consequently developed its own special character. The surrounding shores are more built-up than any of those of the Northern Broads and this broad provides rather more of a publicly accessible local amenity. For me, it’s more like a little Lake Windermere really and, I should say, I’m not suggesting that’s in any way a bad thing.

Dinghy and One-design racing is organised by the Waveney & Oulton Broad Yacht Club and this is also the only Broadland location where power boat racing is allowed. Such high speed events are organised by the Lowestoft & Oulton Broad Motor Boat Club and take place here every week throughout the season.

The fresh water broad has access to the sea through Mutford Lock, which is just out of picture to our right, and via Lake Lothing and Lowestoft Harbour. Interestingly, the lock here is subject to different tidal rise and fall on either side. The outer gates see tidal movement directly from the North Sea whereas the inner gates are subject to the tides in the River Waveney which flow all the way from Yarmouth. That means that water levels [either side of the lock] are only equal three hours or so after high water at Lowestoft. This is compensated for at other times by the unusual use of double lock gates. Conventional canal locks are used to step up or down a gradient, within the contours of the land, and the higher water level is always on the same side of the lock. At Mutford the water may be higher on either side depending upon the state of the tide. The double gates are then employed to adjust the water level within the lock with that in the waterway (Oulton Broad or Lake Lothing) which a boat is entering. It seems to me that double gates would not be necessary simply because the higher level changes, from one side to the other, but the double gates will enable a passage that minimises the transfer of salt water into Oulton Broad. Helpful  comments from any visitor who has a better understanding of this process would be most welcome

Originally, these two sheets of water were one large salt water inlet and in order to allow navigation to Norwich, via Lowestoft from the North Sea, Oulton Dyke was cut to allow access to the River Waveney. This was followed by the construction of the ‘New Cut’ at Haddiscoe which further shortened the route to Norwich. All this was in competition with the Port of Great Yarmouth which had previously controlled the sea born traffic to Norwich; but ultimately resulted in the enforced construction of the locks due to concerns that tidal flows would be changed to the extent that Yarmouth would silt up and become un-navigable. It should probably go without saying that the lock and area beyond is out of bounds to hire craft?

There is an interesting collection of holiday maker’s boats at the moorings so let’s remember why we’re here and discuss them. The large varnished cruiser which dominates the picture is believed to be of the ‘Coral Mist’ class; although this cannot be proven due to the lack of distinguishing marks. The class originates from the early 1960’s at Dawn Craft* of Horning. They were very similar to the F. B. Wilds’ cruiser: Wild Adventurer, which was also built at Horning and they were 40ft cruisers with accommodation for seven. Later this class became part of the [Ladbroke] Herbert Woods fleet.

April 2016: I am grateful to Mark Wakelin of Norwich (who remembers hiring 'Coral Haze' when these boats were new in 1964) for reminding me that the class were originally built by Wilson Boats who were based at Woods' Dyke Horning. They were listed, as such, by Hoseasons in 1965 but only a few years later the boats were listed at the Horning branch of Dawn Craft of Hoveton who were affiliated to the Blake's - Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Owners Association. It appears that Wilson's did not participate in boat hire for very many years but I am unsure whether they continued to build boats thereafter? Thanks again to Mark who is a former Chief Navigation Officer for the Broads Authority.   

                                                                                                                             ‘Braemore’  © R. Moore & Sons 1959

The cruiser moored alongside and sporting a most unusual moulded cabin roof is B546 the 33ft, four berth ‘Braemore’ from R. Moore and Sons at Hoveton. Amazingly (because of the cost and complexity) this roof was constructed in the same way as the hull. That is: with longitudinal mahogany planks, butted together, running fore and aft and steam bent to form the curvature at the stern! Opposite we can see another of Moore's smart varnished craft of the 30ft ‘Rossmore’ class which featured their trademark (for this era) forward viewing [flying] cockpit.

Ahead of Rossmore are two boats of Bradbeer’s Red Whale Fleet (a smaller rival to Blakes and Hoseasons which ceased trading in 1973) the nearer to the camera is ‘Whispering Prince’ a 22ft. two berth from Mistralcraft at Loddon. I am unable to identify the boat she is alongside. Also here on this busy day are two cruisers from R. Richardson (Pleasure Craft) Ltd. of Stalham; who had their original yard here at Oulton Broad.  On the extreme left we can just see a 36 ft. ‘Swiftway’ or possibly a ‘Broadway’ and behind Kerrymore is a 32ft. ‘Crusader’ type probably of the similar ‘Tranquil’ class.

                                                                                   © Blakes Holiday Boating 1975                                                  © Blakes Holiday Boating 1975

                                                                                                                                                                 A 'Colour Master-International' Postcard

Our second view of the Yacht Station seems to have been photographed on a quieter and not a very warm-looking day but I am interested in a couple of the boats; although, because there is very little detail, I have not attempted to identify the craft on the far pontoon; not even the one with the rather suspect yellow hull!

We cannot see enough of the nearest boat, with the bobble hatted skipper, but she is obviously one of the older step decked cruisers like the ‘Star’ classes from Jack Powles at Wroxham. By the way, bobble hats were compulsory in the 1960’s; it was the law - okay?

I suspect a little more colour re-touching in the adjacent group but these boats did actually have a blue painted ‘boot top’ so we are not confused by this example. Well: I say that but I have struggled to decipher her name as it is partially obscured by her mooring rope. She is of the ‘Broadland Swan’ type-class from Ripplecraft of Somerleyton; on the Waveney. There were various examples of these uniquely designed craft. All similar in appearance, all named after bird species and ranging in size from 23 to 35 feet. The name in this case looks like 'Goosander' and this is actually correct but her name was later changed to 'Broadland Snipe' when her interior layout was re-designated as four berths rather than six; for 1968. Ripplecraft ceased trading and these cruisers had all been sold off by the end of the 1980’s 

(2nd September 2009) I am grateful to another helpful visitor, Mr Graham Noble, who recalled the name change for this boat and provided clarification for her identification. Graham’s information also helps to narrow down the vintage of this postcard since we now know that it must have been pictured between 1961 and 1967. Brilliant! Thanks again, Graham.

Finally, a favourite type: a Broom ‘Commander’ a class of beautifully built 37ft, six berth cruisers from the famous C. J. Broom and Sons of Brundall. Possibly, in this case, on hire to a group of boy scouts and their leaders. This firm is discussed elsewhere but here are the brochure details from ‘Holidays Afloat’ -1959. What do you think, could that be a young Martin Broom at the helm?


                                                                               © Blakes Holiday Boating 1959                                            © Blakes Holiday Boating 1975    

Consideration of the input from Graham Noble (and speaking as one who has cruised from St. Olaves to Acle on the ebb tide - just the once, honestly Mr. Royall!) has made me aware that these uniquely designed craft are even more interesting than I had realised. Browsing Blake’s catalogues you find yourself referred to one Ripplecraft class for a description of all their boat’s special features. You can see this in the details of Broadland Snipe above and so I have also included the details of Broadland Swan from 1975.

                                                                                                                                                                  © Blakes Holiday Boating 1975 


                                                                                                                                                                                  Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd


This postcard from around 1975 is by Jarrold’s of Norwich and shows Oulton Broad Yacht Station from the opposite view point to the previous card. It appears to have been photographed from an upper floor of the Wherry Hotel. My main reason for including this card is to discuss a few facts and thoughts about Mutford Lock; which can be seen in the left foreground. My discussion is, in reality, the result of my own attempts to understand how the lock works and is intended to consolidate what I think I have learned up to now. It is not intended as a thesis for the interpretation and analysis of experts. That is my excuse anyway!    


The lock here was completed in 1831 as part of the Norwich navigation. It allowed sea going vessels the size of Thames Barges (or anything up to 71'6" LOA and 21' Beam) to enter the Broads system, via Lowestoft Harbour and Lake Lothing on passage from London, or elsewhere, and proceed to Norwich via the New Cut at Haddiscoe (albeit that was not completed until two years later) without the need to discharge their cargoes into the smaller Wherries. London barges were also able to proceed directly to Beccles after the Waveney navigation was improved. These were controversial developments at the time because they were designed to alleviate the monopoly previously enjoyed by the port of Gt. Yarmouth.


I have watched canal locks in action over many years but I realise now that I did not fully understand their construction and the finer details of the process. I am hoping that I have now progressed a little further in that direction? If we consider the typical canal lock with double gates at each end in, perhaps, its commonest form. Its purpose is to raise or lower boats from one level of the canal to another where that cannot be avoided due to the need to transverse the contours in the terrain. Well go up or down hill I suppose? Therefore, by the very nature of canal locks, one end is permanently higher than the other. The gates at the higher end only need be a little deeper than the canal above and that is why there is usually a sill at that end. The lower gates need to be deep enough to reach the lower water level and so they tend to be rather deeper, sometimes considerably so depending on the gradient; but there is no need for a sill there because that is just a means of limiting the size of the upper gates to the minimum requirements.


Double lock gates are more usually slightly wider than half the width of the lock, and they have ‘Mitred’ ends so that when closed the ends butt together nicely. The advantage of this is that once the water in the lock begins to drain out towards the lower level the very water pressure above the lock keeps the upper gates tightly closed. It is for this reason that the closed gates form a shallow chevron which points toward the upper level. The lower gates will point in the same direction so that when water in the lock is rising it holds those gates closed as well. That way the water remains contained there until the lock chamber is either drained or filled to allow the vessel to progress up or down the lock.


So we notice that Mutford Lock has two pairs of gates at each end and that they face in opposite directions? That is because this is an example of a ‘Tidal’ lock. Only one end of the lock is visible here but the same applies at the other end and so I should clarify that the outer gates here will be paired with the inner gates at the salt water end and vice versa.  The tide rises and falls on both sides of the lock but the Lake Lothing (seaward) side sees greater fluctuation than the Oulton Broad side where High Water is around three hours later than it is in Lake Lothing, in any event. That is because the Broad’s water levels are only affected by tidal flow, via the rivers, all the way from Gt. Yarmouth.


The result of this situation is that the end of the lock where the outer water level is highest changes according to the state of tide. For example the water level in Lake Lothing will be higher than Oulton Broad’s at High Water in Lowestoft and vice versa at Low water in Lowestoft. In either event, in order to traverse the lock, it is necessary to employ the pair of gates that point toward whichever is the upper water level. The temporarily redundant pair of gates can be opened until they recess into the lock walls and are out of the way.  Easy eh? I had wasted a lot of time over-thinking this process but I would still welcome any helpful comments.   

                                                                           Burgh St. Peter

                                                                                                                                               Postcard by ‘Soham Wherry Press Ltd’’ Norwich

Soham Wherry Press Ltd, was owned by Blake’s Ltd. and (amongst other things) they were the producers of many, real photograph, postcards which depicted the hire craft available from firms affiliated to both main booking agencies. Some of these postcards showed images owned by the individual boat yards and (principally in the post war years) these were often used to illustrate the holiday brochures. Nowadays these postcards are much sort after by collectors. 

This particular picture appeared in the 1957 Hoseason's Brochure in an advert for the Waveney Hotel and at that time the proprietors were Mr. & Mrs. Frank Fincham. The ‘Waveney Hotel’ is at Burgh St. Peter, on the west bank of the River Waveney; not very far upstream from Oulton Dyke. For me, this is one of those photographs that just exudes the unhurried holiday atmosphere of a summer’s afternoon on the Broads. So much so that I feel almost as if I too am ambling along behind the group making their way towards the Hotel and probably looking forward to a pint of Bullard’s or maybe a Babycham for the lady wife – well it is the 1950’s?

As always, nostalgic reminders are evident in the scene. In this case: by the nearest gentleman’s Aran sweater (almost as ‘de rigueur’ as a bobble hat in those days) and the Austin ‘Somerset’ car parked nearby. These cars were only produced for a few years in the early 1950’s before much more modern designs began to appear.

Just behind us, on the main river, was the ‘Waveney Yacht Station’ and the cabin cruiser moored here is one of their own new ‘Lancer’ class of three berth hire craft. Or possibly 'Guardsman' which could sleep four by virtue of the starboard berth in the saloon which could be extended to make a double. It seems to me that these boats were very similar to the (perhaps) better remembered ‘Kingfisher’ class from J. E. Fletcher at Brundall (Previously Oulton Broad) and that Fletcher's may well have been the original builders of these boats?

                                                                                                                                                                                            © Hoseasons Ltd 1957

Not many years later, in the early 1960’s, this anonymously published card again shows the Waveney Hotel, little changed, but looking as if it has had a bit of a facelift. In the background can be seen a Vauxhall Cresta c.1955 model but in front of the Hotel we can also see a Ford Cortina Mk1; a model that came out in 1962.

Both the visible cabin cruisers are privately owned so do not feature directly in my archive. However the class of the more prominent boat, on the left, is recognisable and worth mentioning.  She is ‘Kyrenia’ a Broom ‘Robb’ 24’ class cruiser and like several others she was built by C.J. Broom & Sons for a private buyer. However Broom’s did retain one of this class. The slightly longer 25’ but otherwise similar version ‘Matelot’ which had joined their hire fleet by 1962. As far as I can tell ‘Matelot’ was the only example of the ‘Robb’ class to be placed on-hire so we might conjecture that she could have been built for a customer who cancelled their order? In any event ‘Matelot’ remained in the Broom hire fleet until the late 1970’s.

Interestingly: in the very week that I am writing this: ‘Kyrenia’ and another ‘Robb’ class cruiser have both  appeared on national television. TV presenter Fiona Phillips appeared on Len Goodman’s ‘Holiday of my Lifetime’ and was treated to a cruise on the Yare in ‘Jenny Wren’. It was a lovely film but I was disappointed that Fiona could not remember the name of the boat her family actually hired in 1975. Clearly they would have had a larger cruiser and it would seem that theirs was of composite construction but that was all that could be recalled.

If anything: even more fascinating was the glimpse of a ‘Robb’ the following evening. This time the programme was Land of Hope and Glory: British “Country Life” which focussed on articles from the magazine of that name. This included a sequence following the Swan Upping ceremony on the River Thames. Here too was a ‘Robb’ class assisting in the flotilla. A quick pause, rewind and what do you know? The boat was the very same ‘Kyrenia’ that we see above. Some fifty odd years later, still much loved and now at home on the River Thames. What a coincidence?

                                                                                                                                              © Blakes Holiday Boating 1965


                                                                                                                                               Copyright J. Salmon Ltd., Sevenoaks, Kent ©
Judging from the photographer’s elevated eye level, I believe this atmospheric picture is another of those to be taken from a bridge. In this case that would be the road bridge at Beccles. In the distance we can see the old Railway Bridge which carried the local line to Geldeston and further. The line was closed and the bridge demolished in the 1960’s.

The card, from my collection, was posted in 1969 but was probably pictured a little earlier than that? The cabin cruiser is clearly one of the large Herbert Woods’ “Light”
classes of six or four berth cruisers, such as Shaft of Light or Dancing Light types, but from this angle and due to the low definition it is not possible to be more precise. Clearly, this card is another example (please see my comments on the Yarmouth Yacht Station card) where there has been a degree of artificial colour enhancement; in this case, quite a high degree! To be fair though, this does lift and enhance the picture, helping to sharpen the detail to a helpful degree for a postcard. Of course: that’s just my opinion but maybe that’s because I like it anyway?

                                                                            Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd

From the previous viewpoint: should one turn around and face downstream, this is the view they would enjoy. At least, it would be around 1960 when this picture was probably taken? Actually (for once) the post mark on this card is very clearly 1962. Often a post mark is not a very good indication of the picture’s provenance because many examples remained in print or on sale for quite considerable periods. In this case I think that we are not likely to be far out.

In the foreground is the “Caravan Harbour” which provided holiday let facilities by the riverside and the “Yacht Station” which can be seen beyond. I have no personal recollection of the Caravan Harbour although it would have still been there when I first visited in the early sixties. Perhaps that is because we did not stay at the Yacht Station?

The cabin cruiser, in the foreground, appears to be of the “Lazy Days” class from the yard of H.E. Hipperson at the nearby, quaintly named, Puddingmoor. I do remember Hipperson’s and these boats (which I always referred to as “Halcyon Days”) probably because I tended to be a bit biased toward Hoseason’s in the early days? The only other craft that is identifiable (due to her distinctive appearance) is a “Sea Heron” at the staithe.

                                                                                                                                     © Hoseasons Ltd 1959

                                                                                                                     A Photo Precision Ltd.(Colour Master International) Postcard

Here is a wide view of ‘Waveney Wharf’ at Puddingmoor with St Michael’s Church in the background. Herbert E. Hipperson was one of the earlier founders of the modern boatyard and hire firm; as we think of them today. He was  trading, as such, at least as early as 1910 but he launched his last build: ‘Sunny Days’ in 1953 and the business changed hands in 1955 shortly before his death in 1956, aged 82. The new owner, Captain Barker, had been a friend of the Hippersons and he retained the established company name and built two more ‘Days’ class boats. These were followed by more new designs such as the ‘Edith E’ class and The ‘Waveney Heron’ types which continued to be built in-house. After further changes of management the firm is still in business today although they are now located further downstream from this site and concentrate on their Marina facilities and House and Day Boat fleets. The above view is from the 1970’s and actually shows craft from the two Hoseason’s fleets that were neighbours here. Two of the boats to the left are Hipperson’s and I can make them out to be examples of the Waveney Heron class. The boat between them is ‘Queensway’ from Poolcraft; as are the next two boats with blue and white GRP construction. They are ‘Starways’ class Bounty 27’s. Also, nearest the camera, is a ‘Calypso’ class boat which was probably a visitor hired from F.B. Wild’s yard at Horning; as neither of these Beccles firms listed examples of this class.

                                                                       © Hoseasons Ltd 1958                                                                                             © Hoseasons Ltd 1969

The two new classes, unique to Hipperson’s, introduced in the1950’s and 60’s. The first of the six berth ‘E’ class, Edith ‘E’, (perhaps an homage to Herbert’s wife Edith ‘Elizabeth’ Hipperson who predeceased him?) was introduced to their fleet in 1957 and was joined by Warwick ‘E’ the following year. The picture, on the left, was a full page feature in the 1958 Hoseason’s Broadland Holidays brochure when most of the catalogue was monochrome. Eventually there were six boats in that class. The first of the good looking, four strong, ‘Waveney Heron’ class joined the fleet in 1963.

                                                                                                                                                                                                   The  Somam - Wherry Press Ltd.


This is what postcard collectors call a cracker, or maybe that’s a belter? At least, they would do if their speciality was Broadland cards, as is mine? It is a rare, real photographic, card that I had never seen before and it is in mint condition! That’s all very well you say, but what do we see here, bearing a striking resemblance to the above 'Days' design?

This is the 2 Berth Cabin Cruiser ‘Bebe Grande’ from the yard of F.P. Newson & Son whose premises were by Commodore Road at Oulton Broad. This boat and her sister were built around 1960 and I would suggest that the postcard is of very similar vintage? Unfortunately there are no details of the card’s publisher and I do not recognise the format, or the back, as that of any I know. It may even be that the card was one of a private series; perhaps one commissioned by the boatyard or even the Waveney Hotel, at Beccles, which is the setting for this picture.

Newson’s, who were never a very large firm, first appeared on the hire boat scene in the late 1950’s with a few second hand cabin cruisers. There was the newish 'Wild Rose', built at St. Olaves, an ex-Graham Bunn, 38’ ‘Fair Wind’ type (the 7 berth ‘Lady Christina’) and the smaller ‘Bambi’ which, I believe, was probably a William S. Parker, ‘Pipit’ class; another pre-war design. These were followed for the1958 season by a class of three new boats in the modern ‘Autumn Leaves’ class and the larger ‘Emerald’ and ‘Sapphire’ classes in the early 1960’s. Newson & Son were part of the Oulton Broad community of boatyards that [seemingly] often co-operated with one another and formed the nucleus of the early W. B. Hoseason ‘Broadland Owner’s Association’. This group was, initially, comprised mainly of Oulton Broad firms, as you might expect?

The ‘Bebe Grande’ class remained in hire at Newson’s up until around 1980 but the firm continued in that trade for a further ten years. By that time, many of their contemporaries at Oulton Broad had felt the decline in the holiday hire business and had already either retired and sold their property for redevelopment or relocated to general boat building and maintenance facilities. After the war there were over twelve well known yards at Oulton Broad, and by the 1960's there were quite a few more, but by 1990 there were no Blake’s firms surviving and only three Hoseason’s members remained by 1991. A.D. Truman lasted only a few more years. Hampton Boats produced many mouldings of their ‘Safari’ designs for other boatyards but stopped hiring after 2003 and Topcraft, the last surviving yard at Oulton Broad, sold off their hire fleet in 2011/12. Then there were none!

                                                               © Hoseasons Ltd 1976                                   8 Berth Cruiser ‘Emerald’ © Hoseasons Ltd 1962

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

Another view past the Caravan Harbour at Beccles but the primary interest here is the large cruiser with her skull and crossbones pennant! I don’t think that we have said much about this famous firm, up to now, but that is a little remiss as this is ‘Broadlander’ from R. Richardson (Pleasure Craft) Ltd of Stalham; probably the largest [one name] fleet on the Broads from the 1960’s & 70’s onwards?

Richardson’s started out at Oulton Broad towards the end of the Second World War with the purchase of ‘Mac Nab’, a cruiser which does feature on this web-site, in several pictures by Edmund Nägele, (See the River Yare - Coldham Hall) The fleet increased rapidly and by the end of the 1950’s had re-located to its present situation, at Stalham. A site that is slightly off centre of the Broadland hot spots, but which allowed for continued expansion into what is certainly the largest boatyard site in the Broads region.

As we can see ‘Broadlander’ displays rakish good looks and a style that is typical of this firm’s designs from the 1960’s era. ‘Broadlander’ belongs to, what I would call, the second phase of Richardson’s designs. Examples of their  earlier but equally recognisable designs would be represented by the ‘Crusader’ and ‘Fancy Free’ types. The cruisers stood out from the crowd if only due to their sheer size and high powered diesel engines. They were the true ‘Margolettas’ of my own halcyon days on the Broads and I have particular memories of the big ‘Broadsventure’ class boats barging around the Broads with huge (sometimes single sex) crews and diesel smoke belching out of their exhausts. At this time most cruisers had small petrol engines, the likes of BMC Vedettes  and Morris Navigators, and the big Richardson’s boats might have had two to four times that much power!

So, not surprised to see the Jolly Roger on ‘Broadlander’ here then? Not really but please don’t take that as any sign of a prejudice against this firm. I believe that they have an excellent history of innovation and good design and development of wooden boats through to much more modern designs in later years. Today, Richardson’s are a large holiday group incorporating their Boatyards, Holiday Home Sites and various other Leisure based interests.  A detailed history of the firm is available on their website; pleasingly so because relatively few Broads firms bother to do this.

                                                            © Blakes Holiday Boating 1968                                             © Blakes Holiday Boating 1968   


2020: Generally speaking postcards such as this one by Jarrold’s sell to collectors for just two or three pounds because they were produced in very large numbers. I liked it but this was on at nearly £6 plus postage so I hesitated because I considered it over-priced. Eventually, though, I bought it because I had not seen another example and I thought it would fit well within the web-site. The card arrived promptly in a plastic sleeve and I posted thankful feedback on eBay. It was only when I removed the card from its sleeve that I saw the left edge was serrated. This means it was originally sold in a tear-off book of cards and the vendor had cropped the scan so that this was not evident. The card was therefore of even less value than I thought; more like 99p really! It also meant that there was no serial number so I could not catalogue the card in my normal way. Oh well, caveat emptor, put it all down to experience and look out for an original copy in future; it’s not as if I bought a fake Rembrandt! Anyway sorry for my little moan; in the end this card has re-ignited some worthwhile research so I am happy about it, after all. 

Okay so let’s look at what we have here? Two historically interesting boats just a little upstream of Beccles Yacht Station. Also the house opposite is on the site of Darby’s Timber Yard. It was the manager’s home and the yard was originally the location of Darby Bros. Wherry Owners, Wherry Builders and Timber Merchants. They undertook Wherry repairs and owned at least two vessels, according to my information; the ‘Leonard’ and the ‘Ethel’ but I expect there were others? The house survives, to this day, near the present location of Hipperson’s Boatyard at Gillingham Dam. 

On the right we have ‘Broadland Falcon’ a (32’6” 6 berth) Broadland ‘Swan’ class. These boats and their siblings also feature in various locations within this web-site; notably at Oulton Broad on this River Waveney page. The new ‘Broadland’ named boats began to appear in the early 1950’s and were designed at ‘Ripplecraft’ of Somerleyton. This small yard had been purchased by Sir Christopher Cockerell along with several Caravans and Yachts. Cockerell designed the new boats and expanded the fleet. He built them with sliding canopies and a low air draft profile, to pass under all of the Broads bridges. He also gave the larger boats sufficiently powerful engines to enable passage through Gt. Yarmouth; no matter what the state of tide was at the time. Christopher Cockerell had worked with Marconi on the development of ‘Radar’ during the War and was famously the inventor of the Hovercraft. I am not quite sure how long he was associated with Ripplecraft but the firm continued in the hire boat business, under that name, until the late 1980’s.  Several of the Cockerell boats survive to this day in private ownership.
The varnished cruiser, passing by, is ‘Checkmate’ a four berth from The Collins’ Pleasure Craft Company at Oulton Broad. This company was active, at least, from the late 1930’s and joined the Blake’s association after the 1939-45 War. For 1947 they had a fleet of ten, mostly newer, cabin cruisers ranging from two to ten berths and one yacht; operating out of a yard on the north side of the Broad between those of Leo Robinson and A. D. Truman. The proprietor was Harry Collins and as yet I have not proven a connection to the Wroxham-Collins families. It seems rather a co-incidence that the pennant was the same as that of Alfred Collins albeit with the colours reversed. Alfred’s was a White ground with a Blue border and a Red spot in the centre. The Oulton firm had the same design but with a Red border and a Blue spot? The company ceased trading around 1972 and most of their boats joined the Beaver Fleet at St. Olaves. ‘Anne’ went to Richardson’s at Stalham where she joined her old sisters in the ‘Elsinore’ class and the ten berth ‘Braemar’ class (by then renamed ‘Broadsman’) which had gone to Richardson’s in the early 1960’s. 

                                                                                                              Copyright J. Salmon Ltd., Sevenoaks, Kent ©
The Yacht Station at Beccles, sometimes referred to as The Cut, in the late 1960’s or maybe that's the local's dyke at the back? Lots of people are enjoying the sunshine and I’m guessing it was a hot day because some of the boys appear to have been enjoying a dip and some fun with their tyre inner tubes. This is probably evidence of the cleaner upper reaches of the river here? I can remember, in those days, catching Dace in the main river at Beccles; a species which remains an indicator of clean waters.

The nearest cabin cruiser brings back some mixed memories for me: She is seen here in the fresh paint of the ‘Janet May’ class from Billy May’s yard at Potter Heigham. In the early 1960’s my family had to make a late cancellation to a booking, for one of F.B. Wild’s classic ‘Wild Adventure’ class cruisers, due to the father of our companion family suffering serious ill health. At the last minute and with very little to choose from we managed to hire a boat from Redline Craft, the firm that were operating these boats at the time. The cruisers (Redline 1-3) were still in their original varnish (they were built by R. Moore & Sons of Hoveton and were similar to that firm’s ‘Bairnmore’ class except for a double, rather than single, dinette in the saloon that made them up to four berths from the original’s three) but their appearance was tired and our boat was not well maintained mechanically; we suffered several annoying but thankfully not major breakdowns! That would have been around 1963 and by 1965 Redline Craft was up for sale. Billy May, an independent boat-builder, who rented a boatshed at their premises raised the capital to buy the business. The Redline fleet were refurbished and renamed by the May family who continued to operate them in-hire until, around, 1980.  

Anecdotally: during that holiday, we were hailed several times by the River Commissioner or Police launch crews and saw notices at the river sides for the crew of Redline 2 (we were Redline 1, if I remember rightly) appealing for them to phone home urgently. In those days, before mobile phones etc; the Commissioners would have blackboard signs for urgent messages, strategically placed by the waterside, as it was often the only way to contact somebody cruising the Broads, in an emergency.

From May’s yard it was the practice to get a river taxi back to Potter Heigham because there was no access to the boat yard by road. On departure day we shared the taxi with the boys from Redline 2. Naturally we enquired, if they had received the message all right and amazingly they were still oblivious to it all! The lads rushed off to the nearest phone box when we arrived at Potter but we never did find out what the emergency was!    

                                                                            Postcard by ‘Soham Wherry Press Ltd’’ Norwich

On the opposite side of the cut we can also see ‘Maroline’ from Porter & Haylett at Wroxham. My family also hired from this firm but had none of the issues experienced at Redline Craft; I’m glad to say. This particular cruiser was part of the Porter & Haylett fleet when they first appeared in the Hoseason’s list for 1958.

She was described as brand-new at that time and showed a strong resemblance to the ‘Vesta’ class at E.C. (Ted) Landamore’s. Which, bearing in mind that Ernie Porter had spent many years working as a boat builder for Landamore's who also replenished their own post-war fleet with new cruisers of the 'Vesta' design is not too surprising.

'Maroline' was about eighteen inches smaller (than a 'Vesta') and her larger windows gave her a slightly more modern appearance but she had virtually the same layout. Certainly, apart from her livery, she did not share the company ‘look’ of the other Porter & Haylett designs, which were mostly smaller, at the time, and she had been replaced by more modern craft by the early 1970’s.

More pictures of Beccles (in the 1950's) can be found on the 'Extras' page

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