The next set of photographs date from June 1938 and were sent to me by Edith Hudson. They were taken by her parents, Tom and Annie Ralphs, during a holiday aboard the cruiser Y315 “Lady Rhona” which the couple had hired with friends from Sandersons at Reedham. The four friends were all cotton workers from the small mill town of Westboughton, Lancashire - Tom Ralphs was a warehouse manager whilst Annie worked as a weaver. It’s quite a nice illustration of the fact that boating holidays on the Broads were now becoming affordable for the working classes. The introduction of statutory paid holidays for workers during the 1930s certainly boosted the UK holiday industry as a whole and gave people the opportunity to actually take a holiday, but it still must have taken a good bit of hard saving by the friends for this trip. Edith Hudson tells me that her parents fell in love with the Broads and had planned to return the following year, but the outbreak of WW2 prevented this. It would be 40 years before Tom and Annie returned to Norfolk.
Tom and Annie Ralphs pictured with Lady Rhona at Beccles Yacht Station in June 1938. Lady Rhona was a 24 ft, 4 berth motor cruiser which would have cost £9 10 shillings for a weeks hire in June.
Moored on the River Waveney between Reedham and Beccles. The group travelled by train from Lancashire to Norwich, and then on to Reedham where they boarded Lady Rhona at Sandersons.
Sitting in the garden at the Bell Hotel at St. Olaves in June 1938.
Another photograph taken at St. Olaves in 1938 - Johnson’s Yachting Station can be seen in the background on the left.
Lady Rhona, pictured moored at Potter Heigham. Edith remembers her parents telling her that they had crossed Breydon Water, missed the sign for the Bure, and couldn’t work out why people were yelling at them as they edged ever nearer to the open sea!
The last photograph in the collection, taken by Tom Ralphs in 1938, shows Herbert Woods Broads Haven yard at Potter Heigham.
The next set of photographs are from the Robinson family collection and feature a selection of images which were taken at Oulton Broad between 1915 and the 1930s. My thanks go to Jack A. Robinson for allowing me to republish them on here and for the information supplied about the family history. Jack’s great grandfather was Jack Robinson who was the younger brother of Leo Robinson, both brothers running boatyards at Oulton Broad. Their father, William, started the family business there at the end of the 19th century, the yard eventually passing to Leo after he died. Jack set up his own boatyard which he ran during the 1920s and 1930s until his premature death in 1939, aged 45, as a result of complications during an operation to remove his appendix. In the 1920s Jack was also responsible for the setting up of the Broadland Yachting Association along with John Jenner which was a rival agency to Harry Blake’s, representing several other boat boatyards and various holiday bungalows around the Broadland area, all of which were advertised in the “Ashore or Afloat” brochure. Jack’s yard stood on the site which is now occupied by Topcraft Cruisers.
Leo Robinson’s yard c1914-1917 - both Leo and Jack built armed launches for the Admiralty during the First World War. The launch in the foreground was designed for inland waterway use and was fitted with Vickers machine guns.
Jack Robinson pictured during his honeymoon c 1920s.
Another photograph of Jack, believed to have been taken in the late 1930s, shortly before he died.
Jack, his wife Edith and two of their sons pictured onboard one of Jack’s cruisers, “Empire V”, c1930s.
Another photograph of Empire V which was part of Jack Robinson’s fleet at Oulton Broad.
Jack at the helm of another of his fleet,“Robin 2”, pictured on Oulton Broad c1930s.
The “Water Spree”, also seen on Oulton Broad c1920s/30s. Blakes 1929 brochure listed a boat called Water Spree as part of Leo Robinson’s fleet, accompanied by a line drawing which does indeed look like the boat pictured above. It was a 38ft, 6 berth cruiser which was fitted with a 16 hp Kelvin engine and the large forward cockpit had removable side curtains. The cost of a weeks hire in 1929 was between £13 and £18 unattended.
Leo Robinson’s boatyard and fleet c1930s.
Jack Robinson also raced speed boats on Oulton Broad - here he is seen aboard one of his boats, W538 “Red Wings” which was also known as “Speedy”. Jack won a bronze medal with Red Wings in the 1936 Daily Mirror Trophy meeting at Oulton Broad.
Another photograph of Jack with his speed boat Red Wings.
“Speedy” moored at Oulton Broad in the 1930s.
Jack at the helm of “Speedy” on Oulton Broad c1930s.
Jack with another of his speed boats - “White Lady”.
This was presumably a press release photograph which was taken at the launch of the pleasure wherry “Ardea” in 1927. Ardea was built by Leo Robinson at Oulton Broad and had been commissioned by the Lowestoft philanthropist Howard Hollinsworth. Hollingsworth was a hugely successful businessman who had moved to Lowestoft where he became well known for his generous donations to local good causes. After the death of his good friend Nicholas Everitt in 1928, Hollingsworth purchased his estate at Oulton Broad and then gifted it to Lowestoft to be used as a public park, named in memory of his friend. The photograph shows, from left to right, Nicholas Everitt, Madge Everitt, Leo Robinson, Mrs Robinson, Howard Hollingsworth and an unknown gentleman who may well have been Ardea’s skipper. Ardea was the last pleasure wherry to have been built and was unusual in having a varnished teak hull. In the 1950s she was moved to France to be used as a houseboat and apparently had quite a colourful life there! She was discovered on the Seine in Paris by Mike Barnes c1990, but it would be another 15 years before she came up for sale, and Ardea returned to the Broads in October 2005 where she underwent a lengthy restoration to return her to full sailing order.
The final photograph from the Robinson family collection is another press photograph which dates from December 1931 and shows all of the Blake’s boatyard owners who had gathered together at the Kings Head Hotel in Wroxham to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Harry Blake’s agency. From left to right we see the following: Top row - W.Hewitt, E.Southgate, George Press, Clifford Smith, H.T. Percival, Herbert Woods, Percy Hunter, A.Fuller, C.Teader, Barney Broom, O.A.King, E.C.Landamore, W.S.Parker, Arthur Johnson. Middle row - Fred Press, George Hazell, W.Smith, H.C.Banham, Geoffrey Hart, Basil Broom, Percy Collins, Graham Bunn, A.G.Ward Hazell Jnr, Martin E.Miller, Mr Barnwell, C.Mollett. Front row - Jack Powles, H.J.Burrell, Dick Smallman, J.W.Eastwick, F. Miller, H. Blake, Leo Robinson, Mrs D.Blake, C.H.Harris, R.W.Hawke, Mr Loynes.