The following collection of photographs date from 1903 to 1904 and were taken by Donald Shields. Born in 1876, the youngest of three brothers, Donald captured some truly stunning images of Broadland during the Edwardian era and would have developed and printed the photographs himself at home. The three Shields brothers married three daughters of the Buckingham family who founded the well known shoe shop in Swan Lane in Norwich. Donald himself owned a bookshop in Beccles from the 1920s to the 1940s. My thanks go to Donald's Great nephew, John Jollivet, for allowing me to reproduce his photographs on here.
The Broadland landscape was very different in the early 1900s and positive identification of some locations has proved difficult. Similarly, many of the yachts and wherries featured are long gone and are also proving difficult to identify. If you can help with this task then please do get in contact!
This is Donald Shields, the photographer of the following collection of photographs, pictured with his bulldog. Donald was aged around 26 at the time this image was taken and was living with his mother in Unthank Road, Norwich.
Pictured above is Donald’s nephew, Daniel George (Bob) Shields. Bob will be remembered by some as Dr Shields who was a GP at Wroxham for many years.
The Shields family pictured in 1903. On the back row, from left to right, are Donald Shields, his brother Archie Shields, unknown gentleman, and Charlie Shields. Along the front are: Winifred Shields who was Archies daughter, his wife Fanny, Bethia Shields (Donald’s mother), Jessie who was Archie's wife and their son Bob.
Slightly out of Broadland, but on the River Wesum, this is Hellesdon Road Bridge pictured in 1903. In Edwardian times this was a popular spot for rowing. The iron bridge was designed and built by James Frost in 1819 for the Norwich Corporation at a cost of £1,116, and replaced the wooden bridge which was erected here in 1810.
The view looking upstream on the River Wensum towards Hellesdon Mill. Most of the mill was demolished in the 1920s by its then owners, The Norwich Corporation, as they wanted to use the good quality timber to build houses on the Angel Estate. What little remains of the original mill has recently been converted into flats.
Rowing at Salhouse Broad in 1903.
Sailing on the Norfolk Broads, unknown location, in 1903.
The Ferry House Inn at Surlingham on the River Yare pictured in 1903.
Jamie Campbell has identified this as being the Norfolk 14’ Restricted Class dinghy sail number 32 called “Midge” . The location is unknown, but the photograph was possibly taken on the River Yare.
A lugsail halfdecker, also possibly on the Yare. In the background on the right is a steamboat and, on the left, a rowing skiff.
Charlie Shields, seen on the left, with an unknown companion, sailing on the Norfolk Broads in 1903.
Another unknown location, the boat is believed to be the oak clinker built Breydon Cutter “Penguin” which still survives today.
A lads sailing trip in 1903, Charlie Shields is pictured sitting on the right. As with most images from this collection, hats were very much the order of the day but clothing styles were quickly moving away from the formal, black outfits associated with Queen Victoria’s reign. The sailing cruiser is either “Frolic” or “Jubilee” from Ernest Collins yard at Wroxham.
Another picture of the same crew.
Moored at an unknown location, the lads enjoy a spot of lunch and some liquid refreshment!
Entertainment was found in much simpler forms in 1903 - here the lads play a hand of cards on the riverbank. Charlie Shields is pictured in the centre.
Another photograph taken at the same time.
Sailing at another unknown location in 1903. The ladies hats don’t look entirely practical attire for boating!
A shot of the action taken from the dinghy being towed behind!
The crew in action aboard either “Frolic” or “Fluff” which were available to hire from the Collins yard at Wroxham in 1903.
Another photograph of “Frolic” or “Fluff”. Mike Barnes recently informed me that both boats seem to have survived - one having recently returned to the Broads from another waterway, and the other was discovered in a covered, outside store where it had been sitting for the last 30 years!
Another small sailing cruiser pictured in 1903.
A stunning, counter sterned sailing cruiser flying an ensign on the rear. Up ahead you can just see the stern and sail of a wherry.
An unknown halfdecker pictured in 1903.
A very full, lugsail halfdecker! Thought to be one of the two halfdeckers called “Never Can Tell”, one of these is still on the Broads today.
Two unidentified trading wherries - note that the one in the foreground is obviously heavily laden with cargo as it is sitting extremely low in the water!
Two sailing cruisers at an unknown location. The cruiser in the foreground has a very unusual design, with a slipper stern sweeping down towards the waterline, and was either “Pelican”, “Alligator” or “Water Beetle” from Wroxham. Note the length of the bowsprit on the cruiser behind. In the background you can see the white sail of a wherry yacht.
An unknown skipper or crew member pictured in 1903.
Posing for the camera!
The crew of a passing sailing cruiser are captured on camera by Donald.