Postcards from the Norfolk Broads.net 


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'


In August 2017:         Extras Page: Another new card from Spashett of Lowestoft

                                       Acknowledgements Page: A new card from Edmund Nagele

In September 2017Extras Page: Another Harry Spashett Mystery 


                                      
                                 New Series for 2017: The Card of the Month
                         

Within my collection are many more post cards than appear on the web-site. Often they show the Norfolk Broads in the distant past or they are just acquired for the purposes of collection. Some may be interesting favourites that do not easily fit within the format of the established web-site. Or they may be 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. A new card will appear each month but I will not remove the previous cards.

                                                   Card of the month - September 2017

 

This month’s offering is another Black & White photographic card from the early 1950’s. This time the publisher is Joseph Salmon Ltd. of Sevenoaks, one of the few firms that are still selling postcards to this day. Initially my attention was drawn to the card because I had been looking at pictures of ‘Royal Tudor’ a boat which I was familiar with.  I thought that was her on the right of the picture. Of course upon closer examination I realised my mistake and identified the cruiser as one of the ‘Amethyst’ class from Jenner’s of Thorpe. This was before the modernisation of those boats, which took place around 1960 and included the cutting of new window profiles. That changed their appearance somewhat and rendered them much less likely to be confused with Royall’s fleet in later pictures.  

I had previously seen 1950’s pictures of this class and noted the similarities of styling with the early Royall fleet. There is a simple explanation for this and I am grateful to the Royall’s Boatyard website http://www.royallsboatyard.com for confirmation. (Please note that although Royall’s have recently withdrawn from the hire fleet business their historic website is still up and running. I hope it remains available but I am not sure how long that will be the case.

Ernest Royall went to work for Jenner’s (which was under new ownership) just after the war and became the yard foreman. I believe ‘Amethyst’ was the last build he was involved with before setting up on his own and commencing the building of ‘Royal Times’; the first of his fleet in 1949/50. ‘Royal Tudor’ was a slightly larger boat and came into hire around 1962. the new boats were all built to Ernest’s own designs and so it seems logical that there would be similarities in their appearance. I suppose it’s the Boaty Mac. Boatface thing, they all resembled each other, or is it just me who sees a benign face with a big pair of eyes looking back at me?  

The cabin cruiser on the opposite bank is clearly a ‘Vesta’ class from Landamore’s but there are many references on the web-site to these boats already; so perhaps enough is enough on that topic for now?

It is a matter of personal regret that I never got to visit “Neatshead” myself (the letter ‘i’ is silent in the local vernacular) although I did once attempt to get there. It was 1970 and I was enjoying a sailing holiday with my then fiancée. We motored down Limekiln Dyke but unfortunately the trees had been allowed to overhang the water too much and we kept getting our mast and rigging entangled in their branches. With hindsight we might have lowered the mast but at the time we decided to turn back. Perhaps I should put a visit, by water, onto my bucket list?

Mmm……. what would be on my Broadland bucket list? Well (1) go to Neatishead, by boat, and have a pint in the White Horse, obviously. (2) Hire a yacht from the Hunter Fleet, never done that. (3) Buy a nice wooden classic. Something by Broom’s, Moore’s, Collins/Powles’, Landamore’s or Royall’s would be nice. (4) Win the Lottery (see # 3) Hmm…turned into more of a wish list I’d say?


Card of the Month - August 2017

         

Visitors who have surfed (or is it paddled?) around this web-site, previously, may have seen the ongoing ‘Extras Page’ compilation; which is about the real-photo postcards produced by the Bell Photo Company of Westcliff-on-Sea. The vast majority of those cards were produced before the 1st World War and between the Wars. Though, as far as I know, the last production years of the Bell Company took place in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.

I have managed to collect a small number of their post war cards; just eight examples in fact. They have a new numerical index system which appears to start from scratch; albeit this particular example does not seem to fit into that new pattern; just to confuse matters? Only this and one other of the eight cards can be dated as post-war by their content. None of the remainder contain images that could not have been pictured before 1940 but I remain convinced that they are later.

So what we have here is a busy scene at Stalham in the late 1950’s. It is not absolutely clear to me but I would say that our young angler is standing on Staithe Road, more or less opposite, what is now the Museum of the Broads. To his right is the old Stalham Yacht Station, founded by Richard Southgate in the latter 19th Century and managed by his two sons until the late 1930’s.

I knew immediately that this picture dated from the 1950’s because one of the boats is a familiar sight to me. She is ‘Royal Trail’ and can be seen to the left of centre, in the picture, just aft of the white hulled launch-cruiser with the two young men fishing from her cabin top. ‘Royal Trail’ was class sister to ‘Royal Times’ my family’s first ever hire; around 1959 or 1960. There was also a third example ‘Royal Tour’ listed but she had vanished by around 1960 and I have never seen a picture of her; nor do I have any personal recollection. In fact I have  never been able to ascertain what fate befell her. I suppose that fire is the most common cause of a boat’s demise. A sell-off doesn’t seem likely in this case?

Ernest Royall built ‘Royal Times’, at Norwich, as the foundation of his own fleet in 1950. She was followed by ‘Royal Tour’ and ‘Royall Trail’ then one of the smaller two berths ‘Royal Tiara’ I think; although it was her sister ‘Royal Charm’ that I remember as a brand new varnished mahogany boat on our first visit. With the exception of Royal Tour, this is the fleet that I recall from our first holiday when Ernie Royall had his seasonal base at Summercraft of Hoveton. After 1960 he established his own yard at Riverside Road in Hoveton. That business passed to Ernie’s son Alan and in turn to his grandson Nigel. Last year, after 65 years or more, it was decided that Royall’s boatyard would cease trading at the end of the 2017 season but this was brought forward when Barnes-Brinkcraft negotiated to buy the business without further delay.

It’s a tenuous coincidence but the cabin cruiser in the centre of the scene was the product of another family firm and near neighbour of Royall’s: ‘Ralph Moore and Sons’ a firm which was also absorbed into Barnes - Brinkcraft; around about the time of the millennium. She is of the ‘Clanmore’ class, their 30ft four berth cruiser; popular with the average family. I particularly liked the little flying cockpit forward which afforded a safe viewpoint  when under way; particularly for the children or perhaps elderly parents not involved with steering the ship?

Moore’s started in the holiday hire trade, with two motor cruisers, in the 1930’s and, for the majority of their time, remained independent of the large booking agencies. Preferring instead to publish their own brochures (with the help of Jarrolds of Norwich) and, I think, rely upon a particularly high level of repeat bookings. In addition Moore was also known for building very high quality, mahogany, Broads craft of original design. Examples of several of their classes found their way into the fleets of other hirers. Notably: Near neighbours Summercraft and Sabberton Brothers. Redline Craft of Potter Heigham and William Hewitt of Wayford Bridge; amongst others. Quite a few Moore’s cruisers are still around today. A personal favourite is the little ‘Moorhen’ class. The original of this class was built for Ralph Moore’s personal use and she was later joined by another six boats in his hire fleet; plus several more at other bases. The header picture on this page shows an example of the ‘Moorhen’ class passing Turf Fen Mill on the River Ant.

Finally: since this piece is in danger of becoming overlong! This scene belongs to the era when James Hoseason was busy expanding the business founded by his father. At that time there was something of a loose cooperative involving several of the Oulton Broad yards and James had a small fleet of cruisers to rent. Initially they tended to be refurbished boats from the1930’s but very shortly the building of new boats began in earnest. Quite a few cruisers were produced by J.E. Fletcher and could be hired from the Commodore Road establishments of several firms, including Hoseason’s own.  On the right of picture we can just see W 651 and from her appearance one might think she was one of the Stalham Yacht Station fleet, of the day, but she is actually ‘Curlew’ a little aft cockpit two berth from Fletchers. I think the boat to the rear of ‘Curlew’ is hiding her light behind a bushel? She appears to be one of the Fletcher built boats I am referring to and I believe her most likely to be ‘Mayflower’ a full eight berth of 38ft. The aft cabin contained three single berths, a WC and wash basin. The main cabin area, which is out of sight here, was double the size and contained the usual twin cabin forward, the main saloon and separate galley and bathroom facilities.

Card of the Month - July 2017  

                     

This card is a favourite which has been in my collection for some years now; waiting for its chance to make it onto the web-site. It is from the Roy’s of Wroxham Series which was produced by Jarrold & Sons of Norwich.

I would have thought the picture was late 1930’s but the pictorial evidence clearly suggests 1933 or 1934.

Firstly, the famous sheds in the background advertise the business of Jack Powles who was first named as the owner of that business in 1933. Previously the sheds had been embellished with the name of Alfred Collins who retired that year. Jack Powles had been Collins’ Manager before taking over the business when Alfred retired.

Our young men are busy aboard their yacht and it looks to me as if this is just a short stop for lunch. The nearest member of the crew appears to be washing up and they haven’t bothered to stow the boom in the crutches. They have just lowered sail and left the boom hanging over the bank so that they can raise sail and make way again in a matter of moments.

Oh yes, the second piece of dating evidence: Their three berth yacht ‘Corsair’ was one of the ‘Pirate’ class on hire from Herbert Banham’s yard at Horning. ‘Corsair’ and her sister ‘Buccaneer’ had left the hire lists by 1935. Only ‘Pirate’ continued in hire until the advent of World War 2.


                                                  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. http://www.ludhamarchive.org.uk   

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, a card 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.   





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