Postcards from the Norfolk 
   The Lower River Bure
  St.Benet's Abbey

                                                                                         Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd

This postcard was simply described by the publisher as “near Horning.” However, it isn’t really possible to be sure of the exact location. If it is assumed that we are looking downstream, as the boats suggest, it could be just by Dydler’s Mill; a mile above Horning. There is a sharp bend (to the right) in the river there, just as there appears to be here.

Nevertheless, for the purpose of our cruise, I have taken the location to be below the ferry and approaching ‘Ranner [Ranworth] Dam Reach’ because that works for me, whichever way we are facing. I think this will have been pictured in the late 1960’s.

The cabin cruiser is W282 ‘Elsinore’ a 26ft 6” three berth originally from Collins Pleasure Craft Co. Ltd at Oulton Broad and later on hire from R. Richardsons at Stalham, who were, of course, originally from Oulton Broad.

However, our principal interest here is the yacht. This is the first postcard I have seen which definitely shows her! At first glance the craft may be taken for a ‘Leading Lady’ but then we notice her canoe stern, almost certainly a unique feature amongst  Woods’ yachts. I can’t be sure that this is the first yacht built for Herbert Woods’ own fleet; that was most likely ‘Smuggler’ built in the late 1920's, but I believe, this was his personal favourite yacht. She is ‘Ladybird’, built in1935 for racing in the River Cruiser class and possibly the first of the ‘Ladies’ or at least their contemporary.

After initial successes Ladybird was handicapped to the extent that Herbert no longer considered it possible to win races in her and he relegated her to his hire fleet. Ladybird was converted to make her more suitable for this purpose and she was fitted with the same style of lifting roof as the Leading and Perfect Lady classes; as seen here.  She was also detuned by reduction in her sail area and the fitting of a shallower keel.

In the 1939 Blakes’ Holidays Afloat brochure Herbert described her as “extremely fast” and of  “instant appeal to the sporting yachtsman”.

Originally Ladybird was advertised as a four berth and sister to the 30ft; transom sterned, ‘Smuggler’ but after the war both were separately described with only a single berth in their fore cabins. Ladybird ended her hire fleet days at the Norfolk Broads Yachting Company but, I believe, she is still in commission, privately owned, and racing in the ‘River Cruiser’ class.


Downstream from Horning and just off the River Bure we enter Ranworth Dam [Dyke] and make our way across Malthouse Broad to the staithe at Ranworth.

                                                                                                                        Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd

As we emerge from the dyke and make our way across Malthouse Broad towards the staithe we can clearly see the tall tower of St. Helen's church, in Ranworth. The view above was probably pictured around 1960 and shows the locals' moorings near the public staithe. The church is often referred to as the 'Cathederal of the Broads' and visitors are invited to make the climb to the top of the tower and enjoy the views. At the moorings here we have a Landamore - 'Vestina', in the foreground and an R. Moore's 'Aviemore' type opposite.

                                  © Blakes Holiday Boating 1980

                                                                                                                                                                                        © Brian Kermode 2004

The almost exactly opposite view, to the previous postcard, from the church tower at Ranworth overlooking Malthouse Broad. The moorings, seen in the postcard, are in the centre right and the public staithe is visible just beyond, partially obscured by trees.

                                                                                                                       Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd
A beautiful Norfolk sky over Ranworth Staithe, the west side basin, probably around 1965. This postcard copy was mailed in 1973.

12th March 2010: I had originally identified the yacht motoring out as a Japonica class but have been prompted to review this assertion by recent communications from two different visitors to the site; who both got in touch within 24 hours of each other: John Holmes, who is very familiar with the Martham boats and Mathew Gravener who correctly identified her as a Herbert Woods' Gay Lady class. This can be clearly seen by her stepped side decks.

This style was fairly unique to Woods' yachts and could also be seen in the Gunter rigged Freedoms from Applegate's and  Fair Breezes from Southgate's; both of which yards were part of the Herbert Woods group. In this case the blue edging is just visible on her burgee, revealing her to be from their main fleet at Broadshaven. In October 2013:  I am grateful to Mr. Jerry Ping for the information that these stepped deck boats were built from a batch of dayboat hulls that were surplus due to a cancelled export order.

                                                                                                                           © Blakes Holiday Boating 1959

Nearest the camera, to the right, is ‘Janet VII’ a 31 foot 6 inch, cruiser to sleep five people. ‘Janet’  is on hire from Martham Boat Building and Development Company. ‘Janet’ features in several Cotman-Color postcards. So much so that one might even suspect she was used by the photographer to tour the Broads.
Janet X                                                                                                                                                        © Hoseasons  Holidays Ltd 1969     

Beyond ‘Janet’ is ‘Kimiline’ a class of four 39 foot 6 inch, six berth cruisers from Porter and Haylett of Wroxham. Details of Kimiline appear in the Horning section.

To our left the large cruiser is believed to be of the ‘Monarch’ class, an 8 berth on hire, at the time, from Southgate’s Main Yard at Horning. At 43 foot long Monarch was amongst the biggest cruisers for hire on the Broads. Behind her there appears to be one of ‘Broads Tours’ smaller launches such as Princess Elizabeth? Perhaps allowing her passengers to stretch their legs and find refreshment at the Granary Stores or the Maltsters pub, the latter of which was famous for its bar servery which was fashioned in the form of a, varnished mahogany, cabin cruiser’s bow; created by craftsmen from the Horning boat builders, H.T. Percival.

                                                                                         © Hoseasons  Holidays Ltd 1962

The pub was later altered but the bar was still retained as a feature of the restaurant. (2010) Following the latest re-furbishment, the Malsters bar is now at the Museum of the Broads at Stalham.

                                                                                                                                     © Blakes Holiday Boating 1975                                     
The Monarch class of three cruisers, commenced building in1938 but were not all completed until after the war. These cruisers were built at the yard of H.C. Banham in Horning.

Southgates, which became part of the Herbert Woods group, had its original yard in Horning, Lower Street and was adjacent to the New Inn on the downstream side. This is now the Mike Barnes’ Norfolk Broads Yachting Company base. I also believe; that this yard was, for a time, part of the premises belonging to H.T. Percival (Percival Boats) who also had a premises next to Banhams near the staithe. When Mr Banham died, in the early 1960's, H.T. Percival expanded his operation with the purchase of the Banham premises and their fleet. The Banham fleet was initially kept under the separate pennant of Norfolk Holiday Boats but, by 1966, the boats had been sold off to Herbert Woods Co. Ltd where they were absorbed into the fleet at Southgate's Main Yard, just across the river bend. 

  Norfolk Broads Yachting Co.                                                                                        © Brian Kermode 2004

I have seen this yard referred to as being the site of the H.C. Banham boat sheds but I am not sure that is quite right. The Banham yard stood nearer to the village green where there is now a row of seven 1970’s houses which face Lower Street and have nice little boat docks in their rear gardens. (See below) The above yard was, of course, part of the 'Norfolk Holiday Boats' group set up by H.T. Percival after he took over the Banham fleet following Bert Banham's death.

                                                                                                                           The Photographic Greeting Co. Ltd. London                                                                                                                                               
A busy view of Horning Staithe, posted in 1964, showing the Banham Yard and its location at the southern end of the Staithe. This yard would have been the location of “Jonnatt’s” in Arthur Ransome’s “Coot Club” sequel “The Big Six”. You can just see a Banham ‘Sirdar’ (Later
'Smuggler') or ‘Monarch’ class cruiser at the moorings; although, by the time this picture was taken, the yard had been reincarnated as ‘Norfolk Holiday Boats’ which was a part of the H.T. Percival firm that had taken over the Banham enterprise following their proprietors death in the early 1960’s. At this time Percivals also occupied an adjacent yard and the old R. Southgate Lower Street premises. The land occupied by the three sheds, seen here, was redeveloped for residential use in the early 1970’s and the "Percival Boats" name was only carried on at the old Southgates yard; thereafter, mainly in the role of yacht brokers. This latter business was run by Tom Percival who was to be tragically killed in an F1 power boat race at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1984; he was 41 years of age.

Passing by are two 'Summer Breeze' class yachts from Southgate’s Main Yard and what appears to be a 'Peter Pan' class cruiser from Percival’s. At the Staithe: the moored Yacht is ‘Reed Bunting’ originally from the small fleet of Reedling Yachts which were based at Woods’ Dyke near Horning Ferry. 

                                                                                                                                       © Blakes Holiday Boating 1959

What was known as Southgate’s “Main yard” was on the north river bank, just above the Swan bend, around what is now South Quays Lane. I believe that it was actually Herbert Woods that acquired the marsh land here and developed the boatyard that became another branch of his empire and stood on that site for a further thirty years, or thereabouts.

Herbert Woods
It is only natural that references to Herbert Woods appear throughout this narrative but no work about the Norfolk Broads would be complete without direct comment upon this famous Broadland entrepreneur’s career. A great deal has been written about Herbert Woods by authors much more qualified than I to do so, most notably, his own daughter; Jennifer, so I will confine myself to a brief history of the business, as I understand it.

Even now, its a little difficult for me to appreciate that by the time of my first visit to the Broads, in 1960, Herbert Woods had already died and, in fact, his business and persona was of such high profile that I did not realise this until some years later. Sadly, Herbert had suffered a major heart attack in 1954 and he died at the age of just 63.

Herbert came from a family of boat builders and he learnt his trade apprenticed to his father,Walter, before the First World War. After that War Herbert returned to Potter Heigham to work with his father, who had acquired the Potter Heigham yard of the old Norfolk Broads Yachting Company. In his spare time, Herbert built his first cabin cruisers and founded his own small hire fleet. The first of which was 'Speed of Light' launched in 1926. Here is, what I believe to be, the first ever entry for a Herbert Woods craft from the 1926 Blakes brochure:

                                                                                  © Blakes Holiday Boating 1926 

When their father died; Herbert, his brother and their sister inherited the family business. It seems that Herbert was the most ambitious of the family and he bought out his brother’s and sister’s shares to expand the business on his own terms. Herbert’s brother; Walter remained at the business, as an employee for the rest of his life.

Herbert was a clever and far sighted business man, he pioneered production line techniques for building large numbers of similar cruisers and yachts designed in-house. In the early 1930’s he created the famous and trend setting Broads-Haven marina that remains a landmark to this day. He built up his fleet of ‘Light’ hire cruisers and ‘Lady’ yachts to the extent that by the early 1950’s there were more than a hundred craft in his fleet and he established satellite businesses, that supported the main operation. Businesses such as the Broads Haven Stores and  Broads Haven Hotel and even a market garden to grow fresh produce.

My own family displayed a clear preference for hiring from small operators, partly because we liked the perception of the personal touch and dealing directly with the business principals. Consequently, but for no other reason, we would tend to avoid yards like Herbert Woods’ and Richardson’s of Stalham. Herbert was astute enough to recognise this was a factor for some customers and when he expanded his business to include other smaller yards he retained their original identities. This extended to the retention of the yard’s traditional boat names, of which many followed a recognisable theme just like Herbert’s own ‘Light’ cruisers.

Herbert Woods’ group was thus extended to include: George Applegate’s at Potter Heigham, Southgates at Horning (where he built the new Main Yard) plus Hearts Cruisers and A.G Ward both at Thorpe. Even after Herbert’s death the principal business continued to be known in his image for many years to come. 

The Broads probably reached their peak as a holiday destination in the late 1960’s and 1970’s and big corporations diversified into the holiday trade by buying local businesses. Ladbrokes [the Bookmakers] bought up the whole Herbert Woods Group and continued to trade with the original business identities.

Gradually the holiday hire industry went into decline and businesses needed to reduce their fleets and restrict the numbers of new builds. Other famous yards like Ernest Collins’ and Jack Powles’ were equally affected and these also became part of the Herbert Woods Group which began trading independently as ‘Pennant Holidays’ in the mid 1980’s.

Unfortunately the fleets were ageing and poorly maintained, some of the original ‘Light’ cruisers still survived in hire, and the group went into a decline that lead to another change of ownership in the early 1990’s. Before long, despite an initial investment in fleet modernisation, the new owner’s efforts foundered and the company is now owned by the Len Funnell Group, proprietors of the Faircraft Loynes group at Wroxham.

Today the Funnell group trades from the two locations at Wroxham - Hoveton and Potter Heigham. They have quite a large fleet of modern hire cruisers and they also incorporate the Broads Tours operation. Herbert Woods’ name lives on at the Potter Heigham location.

One cannot help but wonder how things might have developed in the boom years had Herbert enjoyed a longer life? Somehow he didn’t seem the type to have retired in his mid sixties.

                                                                                                                               The Milton Series © the Woolstone-Barton Co. Ltd.

This postcard shows Herbert Woods himself at the helm of a new Woods’ 36 in the main basin at ‘Broads Haven’ around 1932 - 1934. We know this because the marina has been constructed (1931) but the land mark Water Tower has not yet been built. It seems likely that this was the day of her launching? Certainly, the photograph was used to produce a postcard that could be purchased by the boat’s hirers.

Before the second world war there were twelve cruisers of this, the “Ring of Light” class; listed but, for 1938 and 1939 four of these cruisers were re-designed as five berths after the installation of a full sized bath and removal of one berth to accommodate a new galley. Their names were then changed and they became the 'Glimmer of Light' class. After the war they lost the remaining galley bunk and were designated as 'four' berths from 1947.  

                                                                                                                                          An ‘Ernest Joyce’ of Norwich postcard
The boat dyke on the eastern side of Ranworth Staithe overlooking Malthouse Broad, thought to have been pictured around1960.

The principal interest here is ‘Sea Heron’ one of the smaller cruisers, at 28ft, from Alfred G. Ward’s yard at Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich. Sea Heron was built in 1950 and achieved a little fame as the boat hired by John May for the tour of the Broads described in his very readable book: ‘The Norfolk Broads Holiday Book and Pocket Pilot’ which was published in 1952.

                                                                                                                        © Blakes Holiday Boating 1959

Its only my opinion but I would say that the Sea Heron class (built 1949-51) was probably developed from Alfred Ward's plans for his original "Sea Hawk" class; with which he started his business, "Yareside Yachting Station" in 1929.

                                                                                                               © Blakes Holiday Boating 1935

The latter half of John May's book is narrated from the Southgate’s yacht ‘Summer Breeze’ a class of 27ft, 3 berth, Bermudan rigged yachts which were sisters to Herbert Woods’ Fine Lady class. (See below)

By the time that the book was written Southgates' was owned by Herbert Woods. Their yachts were built at his Broads Haven yard for the Horning hire fleet and given the alternative name to preserve the impression of independence at Southgates; much in the same way as was done at Applegates' in Potter Heigham where the Gay Lady class were known as Freedoms.

                                                                                                                                                                   Photo © John Hinde Ltd

A pleasant pose for a summer’s day at St Bennet’s Abbey by the River Bure, probably in the late 1960’s or early 70’s. Given that it is the same photographer (Edmund Nägele) The young lady is the very same that was seen in the Coltishall picture and was, in fact, the photographer's wife.

Herbert Woods’ yachts can be confusing to identify from a picture but this is believed to be a ‘Fine Lady’ class, which were 28ft 2-3 Berth, Bermudan sloops.

Woods’ traditional Norfolk yachts built before World War 2 and during the 1950’s came (with a few exceptions) in six basic classes. Research indicates that diagnostic design features, such as the small step in the side deck on some ‘Gay Lady’ class yachts may also be seen in pictures attributed to the ‘Fine Lady’ class, just as some Gay Lady yachts are shown with flush side decks. Some yachts had the cabin side walls extended beyond the cabin front but, again this does not appear to be a consistent feature of any one class.

Five of the six main classes were all Bermudan rigged. There were usually up to six yachts in a class; with ten in the ‘Perfect Lady’ class.

‘Leading Lady’ (1-6) 32ft, 4-5 Berths and ‘Perfect Lady’ (1-10) 28ft. 4 Berths. These yachts started building before the war and enjoyed the type of lifting cabin roof in which the centre portion lifts vertically, throughout its length and has wooden fold down sides with built in windows. This feature is usually distinct in pictures and helps to identify these yachts.

It is more difficult though to distinguish between the two classes. Leading Lady is 4ft longer and has (I believe) a slightly flatter sheer line and longer foredeck. Unfortunately, these observations are usually unhelpful when viewing a picture of a lone example of these two classes. After the war 'Leading Ladies' were fitted with Auxiliary engines.

The other main classes were:

‘Gay Lady’ (1-7)  24ft and 2 Berths. From c.1952

‘Fine Lady’ (1-2) 27ft, 2 - 3 Berths. From 1948

‘Fair Lady’ (1-3) 28ft 2 - 3 Berths, From c.1961. These yachts were equipped with a full length lifting roof panel which had opening side windows and an inboard Auxiliary engine.

‘Twilight’ class, 26ft and 2 - 3 Berths. From c.1952. The most easily distinguishable class because they were Gunter rigged and their cabin topsides extended to the full width of the hull allowing a more spacious interior. Rather unusually, the Twilight class also had dual steering and could be steered from a wheel on the cabin bulkhead when motoring. The Gunter rig, incorporating shorter spars, would also lend itself to more convenient motoring.  

Fine Lady and Gay Lady design yachts were also on hire from Southgate’s Main Yard at Horning (Summer Breeze & Fair Breeze classes) and George Applegate Junior's (Freedom class) at Potter Heigham as these businesses were part of the Herbert Woods’ group. These yachts were absorbed into the Herbert Woods main fleet c.1961 and re-named with the appropriate 'Lady' class; resulting in the 'Gay Lady' class increasing to a total of 14 yachts.

South Walsham

Leaving St. Bennet’s behind us we see, on our right, the entrance to Fleet Dyke which within a mile or so flows into South Walsham Broad. The Broad is connected by a narrow neck of water to a lovely Inner Broad which is privately owned. Boats are permitted to enter the Inner Broad but no mooring is available or allowed. There are a few moorings near the entrance to the Outer Broad but this was always a popular venue for lying to your mud weight; overnight. Its an adventure but it helps to have a dinghy. 

                                                                                                                       A 'Colour Master-International' Postcard

Enjoying the sight of a graceful yacht (in the early 1960’s) from the moorings at R. & C. Bondon’s boatyard and ‘Broadside Store’ near the entrance to South Walsham Broad are a familiar looking family. The ladies, at least, appear elsewhere on this website - why not see if you can find them? Here’s a clue: It’s a fair distance away, by river. (August 2014: For more, please see the Acknowledgements page)

The Bondon family business traded at this location for around thirty years and had (mainly) unique boats which were all named after the wine producing regions of France. In the foreground is one of the aptly named “Petit Barsac” class of, six or seven, tiny two berth cruisers which seem to have had a pesky knack of appearing in postcard views from all over the Broads? In the background we can see both examples of the larger “Barsac” aft cockpit cruisers. ‘Barsac 1’ was 26ft and had two berths. Although ‘Barsac 2’ had the same layout she was two foot longer and designated as a three berth.

                                                          © Blakes Holiday Boating 1975

                                                                                                 Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd

Looking into South Walsham Broad on a day of, apparently, light airs; and during the 1950’s. I would say that this tranquil view is pictured from more or less opposite Bondon’s staithe and although it doesn’t show the extent of open water it may help to illustrate the peaceful atmosphere of this Broad; where the village is not adjacent to the waterside.

                                                                                               Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd

Fleet Dyke, looking towards the River Bure. In fact the first half mile of the dyke is part of the original course of the River Bure, as it was before the loop here was straightened by a new cut passing St Benet’s Abbey.

In the centre of our picture is a 24ft Hunter yacht of the “Hustler” class. Hustlers were fast, two berth yachts, popular with keen yachtsmen. They were all built in the late 1930’s and remain in hire to this day; their hand built mahogany hulls and superstructures still resplendent in bright honey coloured varnish. There is a more lengthy piece about Hunter’s Yard [perversely] on the River Ant page.

Nearby our young friend is fishing with a hand line from the deck of Kon -Tiki  a seven berth cabin cruiser from Burecraft of Wroxham, around 1960 when this picture was taken, but probably an example of the original [pre-war] Fairwind  & Finewind class; built by Graham Bunn at his “Windboats” firm in Wroxham.

                                                                                                                 © Hoseasons Ltd 1959

                                                                                                                                                                              © Blakes Holiday Boating 1939

Returning to the main River Bure, we can now head downstream, past Thurne Mouth, and through ever widening, reed fringed reaches to Acle Bridge.


                                                                                   Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd

Even without the publisher’s help, the easy part here is identifying the location: It is, of course, just above Acle Bridge, looking downstream. It’s just possible to see the Bridge Stores behind the nearby yacht’s jib sail.

Due to the lack of distinguishing features, it is very often impossible to identify yachts in these old pictures. This one reminds me a little of Vagabond. She has the same racy lines and gaff rig with long bow sprit but she does appear a little unloved with her ageing grey mainsail and high cut jib. Perhaps this is an indication that the picture was taken just after the war when boat maintenance had been suspended for the duration.

The yacht, raising (or lowering) sail on the opposite bank has the sail insignia of a Herbert Woods craft and the stepped side deck that was a feature of some ‘Gay Lady’ class yachts.

I can be a little more confident about the cruiser moored nearest the camera. This is believed to be ‘Punch’ a 26ft, 2 berth craft in the forward steering ‘launch’ style  that was popular in the early years of motor cruising. A third berth was available in the well which could be enclosed with canvas side curtains at night. ‘Punch’ was on hire from Percival Boats at Horning and their burgee can be clearly seen at her bows. 

I was intrigued by the vintage of this card and influenced by the clothes of some of the people pictured. In particular the young girl on the rond and the natty gentleman passing downstream. His outfit of whites and matching cap were in the classic mode of dress for Broads holidays in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

This lead me to ponder the likelihood that the picture was taken before the 1939-45 War but I find that ‘Punch’ was not listed by Blakes until publication of their 1946 ‘Norfolk Broads Holidays Afloat’ catalogue. It would appear, then, that this picture is most likely to have been taken in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s. 

Like the date, it is difficult to be certain about the identity of the natty sailor’s cabin cruiser but I believe that she is of the ‘Droleen’ class. A 22ft, three berth in the classic, pre war, trunk roofed style. ‘Droleen’ was on hire from one of the most famous boat building yards on the Broads; C.J. Broom & Sons of Brundall and a week’s holiday in the high season of 1947 would have cost you Twenty Three pounds. 

                                                                                                                                                         © Blakes Holiday Boating 1939

Charles Broom founded his boat building business at the end of the nineteenth century and went on to begin producing boats for hire to holiday makers, before the first world war. This makes him a contemporary of pioneers like John Loynes and Ernest Collins and to this day Broom’s continues to be run by the family at their Brundall premises. That must suggest that Broom’s is probably the oldest Broadland yard to survive in original family ownership?

In the 1920’s and 1930’s the yard pioneered the construction of motor boats and has always had a reputation for building high quality craft, both for private customers and their hire fleet. Sadly, Broom no longer appear to operate a holiday hire fleet but they do continue to provide marina and brokerage services and, in particular, to manufacture their famous sea going motor yachts.

                                                                                             Postcard by ‘Marlyn Art’ Co. Ltd. Westcliff-on-Sea

Just downstream of Acle bridge opposite the thatched Bridge Inn Restaurant. Thought to be in the early 1960’s. The single span bridge seen here was completed in1931 to replace an earlier three arched example that was causing a traffic bottleneck.

Nearest the camera is B563 ‘Sheerline III’ from Chumley & Hawke Ltd at Horning. The Sheerline class were 24ft forward cockpit cruisers of two berths. Behind the unidentified yacht the varnished cruiser with the distinctively large windows is believed to be ‘Lady Joyce’ a 26ft 6in. 3 Berth from Burecraft at Wroxham.

Maybe pressing on to catch slack water at Yarmouth but certainly putting up a bow wave, midstream, is ‘Royal Trail’ a 28ft Four Berth class the first of which, Royal Times, was built by Ernest Royall in 1950. Ernest was the great nephew of the famous wherry man William (Billy) Royall - skipper of the wherry ‘Spray’ and this cruiser was the foundation for their long established family firm in Hoveton, now run by Ernest’s grandson Nigel. Royal Times was a particular favourite of the author as she was the cruiser that we rented for our first family visit to the Broads around 1960 and her fine quality of presentation was our benchmark for years to come.

                                                                                                                                          © Hoseasons Holidays Ltd 1958

                                                                                                                                   © Brian Kermode 2004                                                                                                                                                   
The author, with his father and sister at Horning Ferry with ‘Royal Times’ around 1960.

                                                © Hoseasons Holidays Ltd 1969                                                                       © Blakes Holiday Boating 1975                                               
Eleven miles downstream from Acle Bridge is the Seaside resort of Great Yarmouth where we will find the confluence of the Rivers Bure and Yare. If we wish to visit the Southern Broads it will be necessary to navigate this tidal region first. There are not so many navigable Broads in the southern region (the most obvious exception being Oulton Broad) but the rivers are very worthwhile; once you clear the muddy lower reaches around Breydon.

On our way downstream we soon pass Acle Dyke where (in the past when it was Eastick’s Yacht Station) could be found free and comfortable moorings with easier access to Acle itself. Another mile, or so, down river we reach the Ferry Inn at Stokesby.


                                                                                                                                   Copyright J. Salmon Ltd., Sevenoaks, Kent ©

Here is Stokesby: photographed, probably, in the 1970’s. The nearby cabin cruiser is Lady Jane (or possibly her sister Lady Moya?) from Burecraft at Hoveton. This card was posted in 1977 but the class was absent from the Hoseason’s list by the previous year. They were 25ft in length and had single berths for a crew of four; just nice for a couple with young children?

Moored behind Lady Jane we can see one of Graham Bunn’s larger Windboats, probably of the Fairwind or Finewind classes? Behind her is a large pre-war cruiser of the ‘stepped deck’ type, a generic Broads Yacht and a Porter & Haylett cruiser of the ‘Emiline’ class.

                                                                                                                                         © Hoseasons Ltd 1958

Stracey Arms

                                                                                                                                                          Postcard by E.T. W. Dennis of Scarborough

This is the Stracey Arms and Mill: around eight miles from Yarmouth and the last moorings before you reach the Yacht Station there. If you are cruising to [or through] Yarmouth you will need to try and time your arrival there for slack water; just after low tide. Explicit advice on navigation through Yarmouth is freely available so I will confine myself to the comment that from here onwards there are no moorings and you should avoid straying too near the banks (particularly on the bends) as there are shoals and it is easy to go aground. Should you let this happen you will have a long, possibly uncomfortable, wait for the next tide to float you off!

This picture postcard dates from the early 1980’s, which is a little late for this web-site. Several of the boats have been identified but I have only included the picture for continuity purposes really and shall replace it as soon as a more suitable example comes into my possession. Above all, I am not going to pass comment on the ‘Elysian 27’ crews travelling upstream!  


                                                                                                                                   A James Valentine & Sons, Dundee, Postcard

As we approach the mouth of the River Bure we will find Yarmouth Yacht Station on our left. An unmistakable location because of the landmark building to the centre of picture. This is the North West Tower; part of the defences in the ancient city walls of Yarmouth. The wall terminated here at the riverside, or what was then described as the “North Water”; back in the 14th Century, when the wall was built. Originally the building of the wall was commenced by order of Henry III during the 13th Century but progress was interrupted by the famous plague we usually refer to as the “Black Death”.

I believe that this colourful postcard dates from the middle 1960’s and it is included for its interest and relevance to our cruise rather than any great detail about the boats that can be seen. The boat with the red hull is very similar to the picture named as 'Shenandoah' at St. Olaves but I do have some misgivings about that particular identification, as yet. Unfortunately this example has not proved very helpful.

In fact, on more careful examination, it appears that this boat was not red at all! If you look at her reflection in the water it is white and, it seems that the area reflecting her transom has been coloured in with an artist’s brush. What’s more, we can now see that the yellow boat has most probably been doctored too?  What a dastardly deed? When I was very young I won a junior photographic competition and my prize was a set of colour tinting inks for re-touching photographs. At the time, I thought they were intended to add colour to monochrome photographs but It would seem that they were very useful for enhancing colour pictures too. Actually, I think it probably does enhance some of these pictures and seems to have been fairly common practice in this period. I will however, need to bear this in mind in future! 

Upon reflection (sorry, I couldn’t resist) I think that this [red] cruiser is most likely ‘Lady Jane’ a 25ft four berth from Burecraft at Hoveton. (See also @ Stokesby) The cruiser astern of her appears to be the 24ft. two berth ‘Vega’ from Eastick’s Yacht Station at Acle Dyke and I believe that the passing cruiser (in similar colours) is a sister ship; ‘Guelder Rose’ a 32ft, four berth, from that same yard.

This is the last realistic stopping place before we venture onto the large inland estuary of Breydon Water and commit to [around] another hour’s non - stop cruising to the nearest moorings at Burgh Castle on the Waveney or the Berney Arms on the Yare. However, I think, most people continue at least as far as the nearest upstream villages; which are another hour or so further on at Reedham or St. Olaves.

Finally: there is an interesting little collection of vehicles on the road by the quay. I haven’t been able to identify the luxury coach (a Bristol perhaps?) but the car with the almost matching colour scheme is a Humber Hawk. A model made from the late 1950’s to early 1960’s. The mini-bus is a Volkswagen ‘Samba’ model and outside the Swan is an Armstrong Siddeley, Star Sapphire. The black car behind the V W may also be a Humber: a Snipe from the early 1950’s possibly; but the view is not good enough to be certain. The little red car to the left of the coach is a Hillman Imp; a model launched in 1963.

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