River Yare
 Postcards from the Norfolk Broads.net 
   The River Yare
Surlingham Ferry


                                                                                                                                        Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd

As we cruise up the River Yare towards Norwich the first village we come to, after braving Yarmouth and Breydon Water, is Reedham. The only bridge over the Yare, between Yarmouth and Norwich, is the Railway Bridge here, which can swing open to allow large vessels to pass.

The picture above, looking downstream, portrays a very tranquil riverside scene: we should moor up at the Staithe and have a pint in the Lord Nelson (seen here just behind the cruiser) or the Ship Hotel; which is just downstream, and out of picture, by the bridge. However, we should bear in mind that the river here is quite strongly tidal and the small, sea going, ships or pleasure trip steamers that pass by will seem enormous from the deck of a cabin cruiser.

The yacht in the foreground is not of the generic Broads type. She seems to be ‘Cutter’ rigged and judging from her freeboard and strong build she appears to be of sea going capability.

The cruiser passing upstream is clearly a Broom built craft and is believed to be of the ‘Supreme Commander’ class, which was derived from Broom’s ‘Admiral’ type. Supreme Commanders differed from Admirals in that they had one less single cabin, which was replaced by a shower room, and lacked the rear cockpit; which gave them a more ‘squared off’ cabin profile aft. The difference can be clearly seen in the comparison picture below and in the,
soon to appear, Oulton Broad Yacht Station view, which has a close-up of the smaller 'Commander' class.

                                               © Blakes Holiday Boating 1975

© Blakes Holiday Boating 1975

Note the cutaway of the rear cabin sides to form a coaming for the aft cockpit

                                                                                                                                                  Photo © John Hinde Ltd

Yet another example of the pictures taken by Edmund Nägele during the cruise of Richardson’s ‘Mac Nab’ around 1969. (Please see my comments at Coldham Hall, also on this page) I have started a little collection of these postcards because I like their special quality. For me they have a particular kind of colour contrast and sharpness that rather sets them apart from most others. This one may have been enhanced by hand retouching? I think the reds of the lady’s swimsuit and the burgee and the yellow of the swan’s bills suggest this but, if so, it is rather well done.

Here we have the Nägeles at Reedham and moored on the wrong side of the river for a drink but enjoying a better view of the Staithe and the Lord Nelson pub for photography. The rather distinctive cruiser moored opposite is the six berth “Crestabell” from Bell Boats at Brundall. Crestabell was built in the late 1950’s; as suggested by the drawing in the 1959 Blakes Brochure.  She remained in hire at Bell Boats until the mid 1970’s and a few years afterwards Bell Boats withdrew from the holiday boat hire side of their business to concentrate on Marina and Brokerage services; a business that continues to this day.

                                       © Blakes Holiday Boating 1959                                       © Blakes Holiday Boating 1965          

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

Just above Reedham stands the Ferry Inn and (I believe) the last car ferry on the Broads, pictured here around 1960.  The green ‘Hillman Minx’ is a ‘Series’ 1, which was produced between 1956 and 1958. The party are clearly loaded up for their holidays but I am not sure why they would be taking the ferry here? Perhaps to stay in a local cottage or perhaps just to enjoy the scenic route ? If you were travelling South from [say] Potter Heigham you could use this route to avoid both Norwich and Great Yarmouth but I don’t think many would consider that worthwhile; supposing they knew the way?


                                                                                                                           Copyright J. Salmon Ltd., Sevenoaks, Kent ©

Just half a mile or so above Reedham ferry we come to Hardley Cross and the mouth of the River Chet, on our left; or port-side if you prefer? The River Chet is subject to a tidal rise and fall of a few feet; so can be noticeably narrower at low water. After three miles, or so, we arrive at the small town of Loddon which has pleasant moorings and [last time I visited] an excellent Fish & Chip shop!

Here we can see the main basin pictured around 1965. In the foreground are the moorings of Mistral Craft; at this time a member of the Red Whale fleet of Bradbeer’s Association which was dissolved around 1973. To our right can be seen N262 Whispering Reed which was on-hire through Hoseasons by 1979.

In the back ground is the Loddon base of Aston Boats a successful company that traded from two bases; here and at Beccles for many years. Because of similarities to other examples of Aston’s boats, and lack of picture detail, I cannot ‘prove’ the following but I believe the craft behind the little girl is of the ‘Aston Lion’ class of 30ft, four berthed, aft cockpit cruisers. Behind ‘Lion’ is the Bourne 35 type: ‘Aston Nelson’ class of six berths:

© Hoseasons Ltd 1969

                                                                                                  © Hoseasons Ltd 1979

                                                                                                      Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd
Another view of Loddon but this is a few years later, in the later 1960’s, when ‘Aston Boats’ had expanded to their larger premises over by the River Chet.

On the face of it this is a bright but quite bland and un-picturesque view. Nevertheless, I have found it interesting because it shows two boats, both named Wendy, from very different eras; cruising alongside each other, on this particular day. It is a good example for demonstrating the development of motor cruisers over a thirty year period.

The small cruiser is ‘Wendy’ built in the early 1930s by Jack Powles & Co at Hoveton. Although there is a slight question over her precise vintage. She is listed in the (Horning.org.uk) data base as built in 1929 but that was before Jack Powles had taken over the firm of Alfred Collins; where he was the manager until Alfred’s retirement. However, Wendy does not appear in the 1930 brochure published by Alfred Collins? There could be several explanations for this but it may be simply that she was not completed in time to be included in that publication. Wendy was similar in appearance but not the same as other craft in the Collins fleet (See the ‘Early Days’ page) and in the extract (below) from Blake’s 1935 catalogue she is compared with another Collins’ cruiser: ‘Bonzo’. By that time, of course, the firm had adopted its new incarnation as ’Jack Powles & Co’ but many of the original Collins fleet were still on hire for many years to come; as we see here.

In this picture she sports a folding mahogany windscreen and no doubt had a folding canopy to match; but these would be later improvements. Originally there would be no windscreen and maybe a flat overhead canopy but she would be more likely to have just had an open cockpit?
On the left we have ‘Wendy - E’ from a class of six cruisers, which commenced building at H. E. Hipperson of Beccles in the late 1950’s. The class were 38ft, centre cockpit craft of six berths. This scan is from the 1958 catalogue; just before “Wendy – E” joined the fleet.

                                                                                                                             © Hoseasons Ltd 1958

In 1930 the advent of motor cruisers was pretty much in its infancy and this can be seen by comparison of these two boats. The smaller and older ‘Wendy’ was ‘carvel’ planked and built along similar lines to a displacement hulled yacht; with a proper keel; in fact some early motor craft were adapted from old yacht hulls. Wendy - E has a ‘hard chine’ hull built with diagonal planking or, possibly even, plywood panels and below the water line she would have had a shallow ‘V’ form at the bows which flattened out to a much shallower ‘V’ near her stern, where there was probably a skeg to maintain directional stability. This is similar in style to the low wash hull forms pioneered by the likes of Herbert Woods, before the war, and would have allowed for much more roomy accommodation below decks.

I am not proud to admit it, but in the 1960’s, as a youngster, I would probably have dismissed little Wendy as an old fashioned “tub” and have relished the new modern designs but these days I have no doubt which boat I admire the most!

                                                                                                           © Blakes Holiday Boating 1935 
                                                                                                                                                        An ‘Ernest Joyce’ of Norwich postcard

I have been distracted by rather more aged topics recently but I had to get this postcard because it's just so very nostalgic for me! We’re still in Loddon, on the River Chet, but this time my principle interest is the cruiser ‘Royal Times’ in the centre of picture. Under my general policy of not writing about the boatyards that have pride in their firms' history and take the time to write about them on their own web-sites (not least in case I leave myself open to accusations of plagiarism but often because to do so would just seem superfluous!) I have not mentioned much about Royall’s Boatyard (formerly E. Royall & Son) up to now; despite the fact that ‘Royal Times’ was the first cabin cruiser ever hired by my family (in 1960 or maybe it was 1961?) and we have enjoyed their hospitality a number of times since. If you have not already done so, I would encourage you to visit Royall’s excellent website where you can find out all about their current hire fleet, and the firm’s history. You will also enjoy an excellent archive of photographs and a regular blog which is often illuminated by Nigel’s delightful and stylistic cartoons; you might even find an early article by yours truly amongst the list; if they haven’t binned it, by now, of course?  http://www.royallsboatyard.com/

Nevertheless, this card invites me to say a little more about this family firm which has always impressed with the outstanding presentation and quality of their boats. ‘Royal Times’ was the first of Ernie Royall’s fleet and around 1950 he built her at the ‘Ferry Inn’ boatyard in Norwich, where he first started working for himself. Quite soon the small Royall fleet had a seasonal base in Hoveton at the Brimbelow Road premises of ‘Summercraft’ until they developed their own, present, facilities at Riverside Road in the early 1960’s. Ernest’s son Alan Royall was already involved in the family business at that time. I remember, on that first visit, that he was rather older than me, in children’s terms, but still at school really. Today, of course, Alan’s son Nigel and daughter-in-law Sara are the custodians of the family firm.

In this picture ‘Royal Times’ is just as she appeared when we hired her and is even displaying the original pennant of the yellow disc on a green back ground. This was later replaced by the yellow crown on a red ground but I am not exactly certain when this change took place. I know it more or less coincided with the move to Riverside Road but the original design was still shown as current in the 1962 brochure. This card was posted in 1966 but really I suspect that the picture was taken a few years before that. ‘Royal Times’ had a sister ship in, Royal Trail, which was beautifully presented in brightly varnished carvel planking; similar to the smaller Royal Tiara and Royal Charm etc. Early listings (see below) also mention a ‘Royal Tour’ but I do not remember that boat and feel she must not have survived as long as her two sisters?

                                                                                                                                © Hoseasons Ltd 1952

This scan is from the 1952 Edition of W.B. Hoseason’s “Broadland Holidays Afloat & Ashore” and shows Royal Times (on Oulton Broad?) when she was pretty much brand new. The gentle drop in her side decks tipped a nod to the older stepped deck designs but was really quite unusual and rendered this class instantly recognisable to those who were familiar with them. This feature is still obvious in the view at Thurne which was taken after the boats had their facelift in the late 1960’s.

I wrote an article about that first holiday from Brimbelow Road for Carol Gingell’s excellent website (lot of testimonials today?) here’s a link in case you’re interested:  


Coldham  Hall

                                                                                                                                                Photo © John Hinde Ltd

Back on the River Yare and just as we reach Brundall, on the opposite bank, to our left, we find Coldham Hall a popular venue for sailing regattas and once the site of a small ferry boat service. Coldham Hall Sailing Club is based by the pub here. The club was formed in 1951, with the landlord of the ‘Coldham Hall Tavern’ as its first President, but yacht racing had taken place at this location for many years prior to that.

This postcard is another in the series of Broads pictures taken by Edmund Nägele and which I always believe to be from around 1970. There are several examples on this web-site (including the very first at Coltishall on the River Bure) and the lady here appears in most of them; alas not usually in her bikini? This use of a model to provide human interest in a picture is a common practice amongst the photographers of the Broads and can be seen as far back as the examples taken by famous pioneers like J. Payne-Jennings, P.H. Emmerson, and G.C. Davies.

We now know that the cabin cruiser ‘W181’ is the same as that just visible, but unidentifiable, in the foreground of the Coltishall picture. She is ‘MacNab’ a traditional four berth of just under 29ft and on hire from Richardson’s of Stalham. It seems logical to surmise, therefore, that the pictures were all taken during a cruise of the Broads on this boat; which would have been near the end of her life as a hire cruiser by this time. McNab was part of the original Richardson fleet, built when they were still based at Oulton Broad.

                                                                                            © Blakes Holiday Boating 1959 

The GRP cruiser in the centre of picture appears to be a privately owned craft; which always makes identification difficult, if not impossible, for me due to lack of data. I believe her to be of the Seamaster 28’ Commodore type and, interestingly, she appears to have a fixed canopy over her wheelhouse. That would limit her cruising range, on the Broads, to some extent. However: this class, which was built from 1960 – 1970, was not primarily designed for that purpose and was intended to employ twin diesel engines for inshore work. Seamaster Cruisers and Yachts were manufactured in Essex, for around twenty five years, up until 1981; when the company ceased trading.


                                                                                                                    Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd

Just a few years earlier, but from almost the same spot as the previous picture we see ‘Santa Caterina’: This cruiser and her class sisters were very modern and uniquely stylish craft of 37ft and six or seven berths. They were, arguably, the most up to date craft of their day - still to be built in wood? Caterina is seen here moored at the home yard of her builders, L.J. Eastwood at Brundall Dyke; opposite the Coldham Hall Inn and Sailing Club.

Based on postal and yard history, she is pictured here around 1966 receiving attention from the yard staff. Probably on turn around day in preparation for her new hirers? 

The Santa Caterina class and Santa Margherita were built at the L.J. Eastwood yard in the early 1960’s and examples remained in hire under the different evolutions of the business until around 1992. The firm was to become “Harvey Eastwood” in 1971 and (with a change to the Blakes Association)  “VIP” Harvey Eastwood from 1989 to around 2002. The yard still exists as ‘Eastwood Marina’ in the same location but, as with many others, there is no longer a hire fleet based here.

In the adjacent dyke is ‘St. Valery’ a 26ft three berth cruiser built at Brundall by H. Ody in the late 1950’s and very much in the style that was modern in that decade. I imagine that Mr Ody’s small fleet and premises were bought up by L.J. Eastwood since St. Valery became part of their fleet (until the early 1970’s) and Eastwood’s burgee appears to have been adapted from Ody’s red ‘O’ on a white background; by the inclusion of the letters ‘ST’ within the ‘O’ circle. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                        © Hoseasons Ltd 1976

                                                                                                                                       Reproduced with permission from Jarrold & Sons Ltd

Travelling upstream through Brundall Short Reach, towards the Riverside Store at the Tidecraft boatyard. Given the number of yards, Brundall was probably the major holiday boating centre of the Southern Broads in the 1960’s; when this picture was taken.

Brundall is the home of the famous C.J. Broom & Sons who are now the oldest ‘family owned’ firm on the Broads (see also: R. Bure at Acle Bridge) and claim to be the longest established builder of motor cruisers in Britain. They were pioneers in the installation of engines to boats, in the 1920’s, and in the development of GRP boat production during the 1960’s. Today they build a famous range of ocean going motor yachts. Broom’s yard is just out of picture, to our right.

The smart wooden cruiser, passing downstream, is a Broom built ‘Captain’ class but, although this is the place of her birth, she is a long way from her new home at Wroxham. I say this because I believe her to be ‘Glamour Girl’ a 33ft, 5 berth, on hire from Summercraft’s yard at Brimbelow Road, in Hoveton.

This yard is a small but long established family firm with a fine reputation for service and very well presented hire craft. In the early 1960’s, their fleet consisted of bought-in but very high quality cruisers such as ‘Glamour Girl’ and the smaller ‘Gaiety Girl’ class. The latter being of the 26ft ‘Belmore’ type built by near neighbours, and master boat builders, R. Moore and Sons. The Redline / Maycraft fleet at Potter Heigham also included three examples of the Belmore class for many years .

                                                                                     © Hoseasons Ltd 1969                                                                     © Hoseasons Ltd 1969

  Bramerton Woods End

                                                                                                                                              An ‘Ernest Joyce’ of Norwich postcard
This is the Bramerton Woods reach opposite the “Woods End” Public House - gardens. This beauty spot is a popular ‘run out’ for Norwich folk and was also a destination for many pleasure trips [by water] from the town. The detail in this view is not of the best clarity and I have found it difficult to date but I believe it most likely to have been pictured in the 1950's or early 1960’s.

Cruising downstream, at a fair lick, is one of Alfred G. Ward’s ‘Sea Scout’ class of 33ft. four berths, from nearby Thorpe St. Andrew.  Recognition points are the aft companionway to the galley, the scroll nameplate and the trunk roof with rolled deck forward.

(Addendum - June 2010: further research indicates that some Ward’s craft were presented ‘in varnish’ (see below) and some had white painted hulls from early on. The 'Sea Scout' class first appeared in the late1930’s and was advertised with white painted hulls. It now seems likely that the smart bright varnished boats were built after the war; possibly from mahogany timber put aside in 1939 when Sea Baron was built? (Please see Horning Town Reach on the River Bure page)

Certainly, the Scout class: ‘Sea Farer’ did not reappear after the war and a new boat “Sea Ranger” was first listed in 1950 and quickly followed by Sea Rover, Sea Farer and Sea Wanderer. It's not unreasonable then to surmise that this is one of the newer post war boats such as  “Sea Ranger” and pictured in the 1950’s although,  just to confuse matters further, the boat illustrated below  (in varnish) is Y48 "Sea Roamer" a boat name in use before the war. 

                                                                                                                               © Blakes Holiday Boating 1959

The advertisement wording on the nearer parasol reads “Heavenly Cream Sherry” which doesn’t ring any bells with me; referring to Harvey’s maybe? I was also intrigued with the motorcycle, glimpsed, on our extreme right. It reminds me of a BSA A65 that I had in the early 1960’s but if I had to have a bet on it I would lean towards a Matchless G12 CSR, 650cc, model from the same era. See: you thought I was just a Broads anorak, didn’t you?


                                                                                                                              A 'Colour Master-International' Postcard

A family group enjoying the bustling activity of change-over day at Hearts Cruisers Ltd, from their seat on the green at Thorpe St. Andrew; near Norwich, in the early 1960's? The boatyard here was founded in the late 19th century by John Hart, a local inn keeper and two of his sons. The business was soon located on what was to become known as Hart's Island. The narrow strip of land, next to the River Yare, that was isolated when a new cut was formed to enable larger vessels to reach Norwich after the two railway bridges were built over the river here. John's son George continued the business as G. Hart and Son until his death when his own son Geoffrey took over.

After the Second World War the Hart's family business was largely taken over by Commander Ron Ashby DSC who came to live on the site in the converted Motor Gun Boat which can be seen in the background. She was named 'Morning Flight' and was a well known sight here for many years. Initially Geoffrey Hart and two of his sons remained involved with the business.

Hearts Cruisers were built to high standards and were very modern and innovative, for their day. Their distinctive styling was evident throughout the fleet but it is possible to distinguish several classes in this picture. In the foreground, being moored by the pipe-smoking gentleman is 'Knave of Hearts' a six berth cruiser of just under 34ft. Lying astern of her are the sister 32 footers: 'Five of Hearts' and 'Six of Hearts' both four berths. Passing by, in mid-river, is an eight berth of 41ft. 'King of Hearts' and moored opposite we can see an example of the later (28ft) three berth class 'Seven of Hearts' and 'Eight of Hearts' which can be seen below in a Boatyard Postcard.

Up to the early 1950's the name 'Seven of Hearts' had been attributed to a 27ft. Yacht but these modern and unique cruisers had appeared by the end of that decade.

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