Postcards from the Norfolk 

Welcome to “Postcards from the Norfolk Broads”. This website is intended to take you on a tour of the Broads, illustrated by old and very old postcards from my own, ever growing, collection. Broadland is a very-very special place and you don't have to be a native or to live there to fall in love with the area. You just need to visit and many do so year after year.

Originally my own lifelong fascination with the Broads and particularly its hire boat fleets lead to my collecting postcards where these craft were individually identifiable, just for fun. Slowly but continuously this developed into my record of the Boat Builders and their creations in the years up to the early 1970’s when these specialised craft were still being hand built, in wood, by  local craftsmen.

To help me in this pastime I have called upon my own memories and observations, my small collection of old holiday brochures and Broads library and, of course, the internet. My research also lead to a greater interest in the period beyond my own recollections and the production of the ‘Early Days’ and ‘Extras’ pages. Latterly my interest in the postcards themselves has also blossomed, particularly the early artist's cards, and I am now developing the, more in depth, boatyard history articles for another project. Previous visitors may notice that in 2014 some of these latter articles have been moved off the site. That is in preparation for another project, and the emphasis on those pages is now a little bit more 'postcard collector' orientated, as my interests, in that respect, have developed.

(For Links to new items please see the foot of this page. N.B. It is sometimes necessary to scroll down a little after the new page has fully loaded)

Naturally I have made every effort to ensure that my facts are correct and if I cannot be certain I try to make that clear within my text.  I am always delighted to hear from any visitor who can assist me, who disagrees with any of my “facts” or just wants to discuss the content. Your e-mails are always answered and input is always acknowledged on the site.

Likewise, pinpointing the vintage of photographs can be difficult. It gets easier with practice but one can rarely be precise, even when the publisher's index system is understood. Postal dating can provide a clue but some postcards remained in print, in retailer’s shops or even in people’s homes for many years; before being used. At the very least a postmark will reveal the latest date that a photograph may have been taken but it is the date of the photograph or view that I am most interested in correctly identifying.

As I have stated, the narrative initially takes the form of a cruise along the Broadland rivers and the pages entitled with the River's names show predominately post war coloured postcards. The 'Early Days' and 'Extras' pages contain earlier examples from the Inter-war Period and even earlier.

Now that the initial development of the site is completed new articles are added, on a fairly regular basis and flagged on this page; but this is subject to the availability of suitable material and time. Of course, the fact that the text is not initially a completed work may, at times, seem to interfere with the continuity of the piece. I will try to avoid this by linking-in the new topics as best I can.

In a similar way: The discussions are lead by the content of the postcards themselves; which does mean that you will find instances where they appear in sections other than their actual locations. For example: Truman & Hunter Yachts on the River Ant or Herbert Woods and Banham’s on the Lower Bure page. This is the result of the initial format and I hope visitors who are familiar with the Broads will forgive these apparent discrepancies?

Also: Occasionally, reference is made to current circumstances that may have changed since the date of writing. Since this is, first and foremost, a retrospective discussion, I probably won't attempt to keep all such comments strictly up to date. e.g. a recent instance: the Mike Barnes' Norfolk Broads Yachting Co. fleet now based at Martham Boats?   

The Broads are a national asset and as such can be the subject of political issues and differing opinions regarding usage and development. Other than my rather obvious fondness for the days when the rhond was lined with boat yards (around 90 in the early 1960s) I have made a point of avoiding comment on any such issues. This web-site is intended to be a purely nostalgic tour of the Broads and my only objectives are to share my enjoyment of the images and to maintain historical accuracy.

Naturally there are issues of copyright to be considered when using postcards for illustration and this also applies to the scans I have included; from the holiday firms' catalogues, to help better describe the boats encountered by the photographers.

I have contacted all the publishers concerned (where that was possible) for their permission to do this and am delighted to say that they have all responded in a most positive, friendly and interested manner. A list of these publishers (with thumbnail histories) and of individual contributors can be found on the 'Acknowledgements' page.

Some postcards were published by companies that have, long since, ceased trading and consequently it has not been possible "by reasonable inquiry" to ascertain the identity of the author or copyright holder. However, in many cases, it may be reasonable to assume that copyright has expired, or that the author has died 50 years, or more, before inclusion.

Wherever  possible, I have acknowledged these original companies and in the event that any person or organisation can assert ownership of an image's copyright, and has objections to its inclusion, I would hope that they will contact me; if only to seek the image's removal. I will of course comply with any such legitimate request.

Finally, where others, who are directly involved in the business, have written about the history of their own or their family's boatyards. I have respectfully endeavoured to avoid any repetition of their work but have included references or links to help visitors find out more about those firms.  

Brian Kermode

  What's New?

Featured Card of the Month - See Below:

In December 2016:     
Extras Page: Wherry Yacht 'Olive May' and a Spashett family connection

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

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

Within my collection are many interesting post cards, often showing the long past Norfolk Broads, that do not easily fit within the format of the web-site. Or they are being held in reserve for someday in the future when I might discover more information about the scene. I have decided to use this space to feature and share some of these cards on an individual basis.

                                                  The Card of the month for June 2017


This month’s offering is an early example from the Photochrom Co. Ltd of London’s ‘Glossy Photo Series’ and although the serial number is a little difficult to read, on my copy, it would appear that the postcard dates from around 1908.

I bought this card which is entitled ‘Womack Staithe’ for its historical charm and its quality; not because I knew all about the content! Nevertheless, I have discovered a little information which I hope is relevant? The card’s title says Womack Staithe but I believe we are looking across a small dyke beside Robert Harrison’s boatyard which can be seen in the background. Behind the boatman can be seen a wet boat shed which is fairly typical of the Wherry Yards at various locations around the Broads and which, in this case, opened straight onto Womack dyke. A late 19th Century photograph can be found on the Ludham Archive website which shows this same shed with a trading wherry hauled out for repairs.   

I am also intrigued by the little yacht with the lifting roof. It seems a very early example of this practice which was later to become almost universal amongst the generic Norfolk Broads hire yachts; although in this case I would guess that only sitting headroom was available.

Incidentally, if like me you love this photograph, there is an example currently for sale on eBay, item # 401317672012. The seller is asking £25 which is not beyond the bounds of reason given its rarity and quality. I’m just glad I got mine for £6 a couple of years ago! I would say that my copy is in slightly better condition but at least I was able to more easily read the serial number, on the eBay example, and that enabled a more accurate date of publication.  We shouldn't forget however that year of publication is not necessarily the same as that when the photograph was taken; which in some cases can be earlier? 

                                        The Card of the Month for May 2017

Here's the first in this new series, which I would attribute to Jarrold's: It's a view looking downstream from Ludham Bridge which reveals some interesting details. Of course, I personally don't remember the riverside stores here; where boaters could procure Fresh water, Petrol and Provisions at the waterside. In fact this is the only picture I have seen that shows these premises. It was a branch of the 'Ludham Bridge Stores' on the nearby Ludham to Horning (Norwich) road. This business changed hands shortly after the Second World War and I believe it was around this time that the riverside branch was closed down. Probably, I suppose, because the main store is only a stone's throw away from the bridge.

In any event we can date this postcard view to the period 1932 - 1936 thanks to the postage i.e. August 1936 and the rather attractive yacht. She is 'Pamela' which was built "on racing lines" at the yard of George Applegate, Junior, at Potter Heigham in 1932.

I am not going to attempt to identify the Pleasure Wherry in the background, there are too many similar craft to be positive at this scale.

However, the boat that piqued my interest in the first place (not forgetting the shop) was the cabin cruiser, presumably, just readying herself for passage through the bridge. She is 'Tellmemore' which along with 'Seemore' was one of the first two hire craft in the fleet of Ralph Moore at Hoveton. Trading as R.Moore and Sons. this firm went on to make a good many classes of beautiful wooden and later composite cabin cruisers for their own hire fleet and those of other yards after the war. This was a well known and respected independent firm of boat builders which continued trading until the end of the twentieth century.   


since 2009
Website Builder