The Great Coypu Hoax of 1974

In 1974, the village of Horning was sealed off and motorists entering and exiting the village were stopped, questioned and warned about an unknown disease which was wiping out coypus in the area. It caused confusion and mild panic among local residents and visitors, the news of the epidemic even reaching the national press in the following days. But all was not as it seemed …. this is the story of The Great Coypu Hoax.

Rag Societies have long been a fixture of universities, a term given to fund raising bodies run by the local Students Union. An annual “Rag Week” provided the perfect excuse to have a bit of fun whilst raising money and elaborate pranks were often part of the week long series of events. In 1974, the students of the University of East Anglia brought the village of Horning to a standstill with one such prank as they set up roadblocks, supposedly as part of a coypu control exercise. Claiming to be from the Department of Bacteriological Research at Porton Down in Wiltshire, the team stopped all vehicles passing through the village asking whether they had seen any dead coypu in the area within the last few months. The coypu, they informed people, were suffering from an unknown disease which seemed to be centred around Horning. It was stressed that the germ was not dangerous to humans, their pets or livestock, vehicle tyres were sprayed with disinfectant and the motorists were sent on their way. Local villagers were interviewed and even the local bobby tuned up in his police mini and was, rather embarrassingly, taken in by the official looking nature of the survey, although was apparently somewhat surprised that he hadn’t been informed about it. The students were eventually rumbled, and the story made the local news the following night.

Coypu, were large, herbivorous rodents which were native to South America. Growing to around two feet in length (minus the long, rat-like tale) with bright orange front teeth, coypu were brought to the UK in the 1920s to be farmed for their fur. One such fur farm was established at East Carlton Manor to the south west of Norwich. Following the collapse of a roof, a large number of coypu escaped from the farm in 1937 and, within a few years, had spread throughout the Broadland district causing widespread damage to the riverbanks as they voraciously chomped their way through the reed beds. And so a long running campaign to eradicate them from the Broads began, a bounty being placed on the head of each coypu caught and handed in at one point. There were those who felt that the coypu were actually helping to keep the waterways clear and open, and others who feared that the creatures would suddenly start attacking passing boating parties. The coypu control programme continued and the last survivor was believed to have been caught in the late 1980s, some 50 years after they first began to colonise the waterways.

The Great Coypu Hoax of 1974 was filmed by the UEA and it has recently been uploaded to YouTube by Derek Williams – persevere to the end and the Look East TV news report and interview about the stunt. It included a little gem about a previous hoax at Horning a few years before when the local vicar apparently crowned and kissed the winner of the annual village beauty concert only to discover later that it was actually his teenage son in drag!

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A Boys Own Adventure – The Norfolk Broads in the 1920s

The latest uploads to the Broadland Memories website are a pair of Norfolk Broads related magazine articles from the early 1920s, published in what was probably one of the longest running, and most iconic boys magazines in Britain.

The first edition of the Boys Own Paper appeared as a weekly publication in 1879 and by the time the final copy hit the shelves in 1967, over 2500 issues had been published. Originally produced by the Religious Tract Society, the Boys Own Paper aimed to encourage boys and young men to read whilst instilling christian values via adventure stories and articles on the natural world, science, sports and other leisure pastimes. In 1913 it became a monthly publication, its ownership passing through the hands of at least three other publishing companies until its demise.  Some illustrious names contributed articles and stories over the years too, including W.G. Grace, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, Issac Asimov and astronomer Patrick Moore.

I recently came across two copies of the paper which contained articles about the Norfolk Broads that also feature some rather beautiful cover artwork. Both were written by l. Warren Rimmer, about whom I can find very little other than he also contributed articles on crag climbing in Britain and caravan holidays to the same publication in the 1920s and 1930s. The June 1921 edition included a two page write-up entitled “A Holiday on The Broads – How to spend an enjoyable summer fortnight” but it was the cover which first caught my eye as it is so evocative and typical of the era. It bears the signature of T.M.R. Whitwell who, it turns out, provided the illustrations for the covers for some of P.G. Wodehouse’s earlier books.  He also produced artwork for a number of other boys magazines and story books during the late 1800s and through the first quarter of the 20th century. The Norfolk Broads article includes several photographs, one of which shows a crew member “surf-riding”. or being towed along in the behind the boat, clinging on the a plank of wood attached to a rope. Some things never change!

In July 1922, The Boys Own Paper published a follow up piece written by L. Warren Rimmer. “Sailing on The Broads – How to spend an enjoyable summer holiday”, is a four page instructional article aimed at encouraging novices to try sailing on the Norfolk Broads. It was an era when such holidays were beginning to become an option for a wider section of society, having previously been the preserve of  those with means. The author wrote: “Of course you will say that yachting is a pastime only to be indulged in by the moneyed classes; but let me explain, dear reader, that a holiday on The Broads will call for infinitely less monetary support than you have been accustomed to give when spending previous holidays at a formal seaside resort.” Indeed, Harry Blake included a breakdown of the cost of a typical Broads holiday in his annual yachting lists which, for 1929, worked out at around £7 10 shillings per person for a party of 6. That is a grand total of £45 which includes includes £24 for the hire of a yacht, £18 for provisions, £2 for sundries and £1 for a meal at an inn before going on board. It’s still quite a considerable sum compared to the average weekly wage of the time, but I think that the Boys Own Paper was aimed very squarely at the middle classes. Once again, the magazine sported a very striking piece of artwork on the cover to illustrate the article within. Although unsigned, it does look  very similar in style to the previous cover – is this another example of Thomas Whitwell’s work I wonder? It’s all very Ripping Yarns stuff.

The two articles can be found in PDF form in the Newspaper and Magazine cuttings section of the Broadland Memories website: 1920s News Articles


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Broadland Memories 2018

Regular visitors to the Broadland Memories website and blog will have no doubt noticed that things have been a little quiet for a while. I must apologise for the lack of new additions and thought I’d better update the blog with a little explanation – fear not, I’m still here and very much looking forward to getting back to work on the archive.

As many are aware, Broadland Memories is pretty much a single handed affair and something I fit in when I can. 2017 was an absolutely horrendous year on a personal level for me and finding the time or drive to get work done on the website was difficult. I lost my mum in June after she had spent a lengthy spell in hospital. It was a difficult time, not helped by then being diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of the summer. The resulting surgery was seemingly successful (fingers crossed) but the operation, followed by a course of radiotherapy really knocked the wind out of my sails. I keep being reminded that it will take time to recover, both physically and mentally, and I am getting there.

Sadly, Broadland Memories had to be put on the back burner throughout all of this, bar a short flurry of new additions I managed to make between the operation and radiotherapy. Despite that, I have still been adding to the archives collection with purchases of new photographs and films which will be added to the website in due course. The new films include what I think is one of the 1930s promotional films made by Harry Blake to advertise boating on the Broads via his yachting agency. It’s on 9.5 mm Pathe film so it’s unseen as yet until it’s been digitized. I will endeavour to get those sorted as soon as I can. There are some very interesting photographic collections too including a large set which document annual youth sailing holidays taken by a church group between 1946 and 1953. The three albums you can see in the photograph on the left were from different sources, but all date from around 1900 to 1917. Two featuring sailing holidays, but the smallest album you can see is rather special.

It is dated on the cover, although it’s difficult to read whether it says 1910 and 1911 or 1916 and 1917, but it documents holidays taken aboard the motor cruiser Ibis by a couple. As a very early example of a motor cruiser on the Broads, Ibis is a stylish craft with a small aft cabin featuring oval windows. I haven’t found any reference to Ibis in the early brochures I have, but it may well have been a private boat or not affiliated to Blake’s agency.  Having spent a day scanning last week, it’s always exciting to be able to study the digitized images in greater detail. I look forward to doing a bit more research on these and the other new photographs before uploading them to Broadland Memories.

I hope to get the odd item onto the website over the spring, but we are currently in the middle of finishing renovations on our cottage with the intention of finally being able to put it on the market and make the much needed move to a larger house which will provide me with the study/office space that I so desperately need for Broadland Memories. That work should be finished by the early summer, giving me some free time once again to catch up with the ever growing backlog of new material for the website. I’ve also got some catching up to do with website emails – my apologies if you have contacted me in the last couple of months and I haven’t replied yet.

I’m still very much at the helm, and still as passionate as ever about preserving the historic photographs, films, ephemera and memories of the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads that I’m able to acquire or are sent to me. I do feel very sad that I haven’t been able to devote the time needed to maintaining and updating the archive and website, but I’m sure you can appreciate that circumstances have made that very difficult over the last twelve months. Please bear with me, and do keep checking in to the website and blog as I will do my best to add a few new items as and when I can grab a few spare hours.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone for their continuing interest and support for Broadland Memories. It’s always good to know that others get the same sort of enjoyment I do from this stuff.

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Ring of Light 1960s – new cine film

It’s been a little while since I last uploaded a cine film to the Broadland Memories YouTube channel, but the latest addition has been uploaded this morning. Filmed in the early to mid 1960s, this 24 minute offering follows a holiday on board the Herbert Woods motor cruiser Ring of Light and covers both the southern and northern rivers of the Norfolk Broads.

The film wasn’t in the best condition, but it is still very watchable and, as ever, was kindly digitized for the archive by the nice folk at Video Impact in Loddon. The start of the film throws up a bit of a puzzle though as the cruiser from which the film is being shot as they pass through Great Yarmouth is not Ring of Light, which features during the rest of the holiday. It has a Landamore’s burgee on the front and has been identified for me as being one of their Vesta class. Did the holiday party have two boats? Dis they encounter problems with the Vesta and were swapped onto a boat from another yard? We will never know!

I’ll leave you to spot the locations, but a couple of things stood out on my first viewing  – look at the amount of foam coming from the sewage works at Whitlingham as they pass, and how many swans were there on Hickling Broad? It’s another great addition to the film section of the archive and is the latest in a flurry of activity of the website due to an enforced rest on my part. If you missed them, recent uploads include a n interesting set of photographs from the early 1920s, a wonderful set of glass lantern slides documenting a holiday on the converted ex-Thams barge Pauline just before WW2, and beautiful album of photographs dated to August 1895 which feature a family cruise on the Robert Collins yacht Mayflower.

I’ve got another three films in the wings to edit, and another two to be transferred including what appears to be early Blake’s promotional film. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy “The Norfolk Broads – Ring of Light 1969

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The Norfolk Broads Through Glass

There is something rather magical about glass lantern slides. The quality of photographs reproduced in this way just seems to have that extra clarity and sparkle. The romantic side of me me also likes the fact that it’s was a form of entertainment which harks back to a pre-televisual and pre-cinematic age where there would have been a certain amount of awe and excitement that accompanied a trip to your local theatre or public hall to see the wonders of the world or the beauty spots of Britian projected onto a large screen before you.

It was a technique that was apparently introduced in the 17th century. These were originally hand painted images on glass which, as a set, often portrayed a narrative which could be told as the slides were shown. As photography developed in the latter half of the 19th century, photographic images began to be printed onto glass, hand tinted in some instances to give colourised views to engage the audience. It wasn’t long before magic lantern slides were being mass produced with a range of subjects from topographical views to bible stories. There would have been many one off lantern slides too, created by both professional and amateur photographers, either for local, public showing or their own private viewing. It was a medium that continued well into the first half of the 20th century until the modern slide projector with a smaller, more affordable format became widely available.

There are a handful of lantern slides and glass negatives on the Broadland Memories website, but I was absolutely thrilled to be able to purchase a complete, boxed set of lantern slides for the archive earlier this year. I knew they were special when I saw them, but subsequent research over recent weeks has made them very interesting indeed. They are quite late compared to most lantern slides which come up for sale. The set of 48 slides date from July 1938 and document a rather different holiday on the Norfolk Broads aboard the large motor cruiser Pauline, a floating hotel converted from the ex-Thames spritsail barge Federation by Frederick Miller at Oulton Broad in the early 1920s.

I wrote a blog about Pauline in 2013 which included photographs and background information about her time on the Broads. A short while after purchase, I discovered that an almost identical photograph to the slide above appeared with the entry for Pauline in Blake’s “Norfolk Broads Holidays Afloat” brochure in 1939. It appeared to be the same crew and holiday party on board, taken at a slightly different location on Oulton Broad.  It seemed likely that our photographer had sent one of the slides, or a print, to Miller’s boatyard.

The images above show the girls of the holiday party on deck, skipper Dan Bedford at the helm as they enter Rockland Broad, and Pauline leaving Norwich with the old power station seen on the left.

This week, whilst preparing the slides for the website and doing my customary research, I discovered that another of the slides featured in the book “Norfolk Broads – The Golden Years,” a collection of Philappa Miller’s paintings, photographs and memories of Broadland from the 1920s to the 1950s, published by Halsgrove in 2008. When you purchase items via auction, they invariably come with no details of origin. Whilst I can piece together historic and topographical notes about the images, most of the time they are what I term as “orphaned” away from their original owners/photographers.  That is the sad part about what I do with the website., and it is always an absolute joy when I have some history about the person behind the lens. In this instance, it really has thrown up so many questions. Was the photographer connected to the Miller family of the boatyard? The hand painted, title slide below certainly bears more than a passing resemblance to Philappa’s illustrations. Were the photographs the work of Philappa herself? Were the slides produced for private viewing, or were they shown to advertise holidays aboard Pauline?

I may never know the answer, but the photographer left behind a unique glimpse into a week afloat on Pauline just before the outbreak of the Second World War. The full set of slides can now be found on the Broadland Memories website. As always, if anyone can provide further information on any of the images or the people seen, then please do get in touch.

Whilst working on the lantern slides this week, the opportunity arose to purchase another set of 24 lantern slides for the website. They are somewhat earlier, dating to c1900-1905, and were taken during a holiday on the wherry Naiade of Oulton Broad. These are just exceptional and are an extremely exciting addition to the archive. Lots of wherries and views of the very rural and undeveloped Broadland of that time. I’ve only taken rough photographs of the slides for now, but they give a good illustration of what’s to come.

This was Naiade at Ludham Bridge. She is clearly a conversion of a trading wherry and still has her black sail. I haven’t been able to find any further information about her from my usual sources as yet.

Another of the lantern slides from the new set. This is one of two images which show the interior of Naiade and it is so evocative of the era, from the straw boater lying on the side, to the sheet music for the music hall favourite “The Miners Dream of Home” sitting on the piano.

I look forward to getting these onto the website in due course, but next in line is the album of photographs of the Broads taken by a Mr Brading in 1895, a couple of photographs from which were previewed in an earlier blog post – A Very Victorian Cruise On The Norfolk Broads.

Just a quick mention before I leave – the title of this post is a nod towards Nick Stone’s excellent Invisible Works blog where, along with many superb articles on local history, landscape and heritage (plus some great photography), you’ll find his “Through Glass” series of historic images of Norfolk. Well worth a look.


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Four men in a skiff – Ely to Kings Lynn 1901

Whilst I usually concentrate on photographs and history of the Norfolk Broads, this is a little curio which I picked up for next to nothing recently and thought might be of interest. These were a few pages which had been torn from a personal journal of an unknown diarist who, I think, may have been a university student. Dating from June 1901, the photographs on the pages relate to a boating trip taken in 1901 on the Great Ouse by four friends.

Quite probably inspired by Jerome K Jerome’s “Three Men In A Boat”,  this particular group’s adventure saw them rowing from Ely to Kings Lynn with overnight camping stops along the way.  Not the greatest quality images, but interesting none the less and reproduced in their entirety below.

No. 212, 3, 4, 5 taken on a boating trip from Ely to Kings Lynn June 1901 with H Vicker, E Lloyd & H.C Turner. By the Ship Inn, where the Tent was pitched the first night. Vicker & Turner.” There is a Ship in at Brandon Creek about 6 or 7 miles distance by river from Ely – could this have been their first stop?

The Tent at the Ship Inn

The shelter at Downham Market

Ely from the Ouse


As a footnote – I haven’t been at all active with the website of late as I’ve been coping with a family illness and bereavement during the last four months. It’s been a difficult few months and I’ve barely had chance to switch my computer on, let alone contemplate doing any work on it.  There is still so much to deal with, but I hope to be back at the helm of Broadland Memories soon.


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A very Victorian cruise on the Norfolk Broads

Followers of Broadland Memories on Twitter and Facebook will have seen mention of the recent purchases for the archive of two sets of photographs of the Norfolk Broads from the late 19th century. These fascinating images document family holidays during the early years of the boat hire industry, providing a wonderful snapshot of boating during that era, and they include some incredibly rare photographs of pleasure wherries and the Broadland landscape.

The first collection were bought as a group of three lots of loose pages from an album which had been split apart by a dealer. It’s always sad when that happens, but I was fortunate to be able to buy the three Norfolk Broads lots which means that they will at least remain together. Precise dating has been difficult, but researching the landscape scenes via contemporary guide books, census returns and trade directories, and the subtle changes in ladies fashions during the latter decades of the 19th century, led me to the conclusion that they are c1885-1889. The presence of a photograph of the 1885 Norwich Angling Club annual dinner menu also provided an initial starting point for that date. The collection features a very well to do, probably extended family group aboard two pleasure wherries and a larger steam ship called Phoenix. I think they they were possibly taken during more than one trip. Sadly, there are no names, or real clues to where they came from. Other photos from the pages I bought include three or four which were taken on the Dutch and Belgian Canals, plus a couple of London scenes.

The first wherry is named as The Eagle – not a wherry name that I have come across before, nor can find mention of in the usual book sources, but it looks to be a quite rough and ready conversion from a trading wherry. The family group are pictured aboard The Eagle in the photograph above. The second pleasure wherry (below) which accompanies the family clearly displays the name boards of Gladys, which Roy Clark lists as being a converted trader in his Black sailed Traders book. What is unusual about Gladys is that she has a counter stern, something you would be unlikely to find on a trading wherry, the fitting of which would have required quite a major rebuild. She is rather magnificent and a wherry, it seems, that hasn’t appeared in any previously published photographs, which makes this quite a rare find. The collection also features a photograph of Buckenham Ferry in operation with the now derelict Buckenham Drainage Mill seen clearly in the background, sails intact and painted white, like Thurne Mill. These have now been uploaded to the gallery pages of Broadland Memories and can be viewed here:

The second collection is a virtually complete photograph album, inscribed by the photographer as being “The Cruise of The Mayflower” and dated to August and September of 1895. Although I know nothing about the background of the photographer and his family, I do at least have a name – D.W. Brading. Mayflower was built by Robert Collins & Sons at Wroxham. Once again, it’s another beautiful set of personal photographs of a boating holiday on the Broads which will appear on Broadland Memories in the coming months. A couple of previews from the album appear further down in this article.  A massive thank you to those kind people who have sent donations to Broadland Memories over the last year which have helped towards the purchase of these incredible pieces of the local history which will now be available for all to view online, and will eventually be passed on to the Norfolk County Council Archives.

As always, such photographs require a fair bit of research. My first port of call is usually the contemporary guide books and literature of  the time which give great insight into how a boating holiday was conducted at the time. The allure and attractions of the region were probably not that dissimilar to our own reasons for boating on the Broads today. The adventure, the tranquillity of the rivers, the stunning landscape, the wildlife, the history and architecture … and possibly the odd pub or two along the way. The client base for the boatyards was somewhat different, however, as boating was predominantly the preserve of the wealthy and professional classes. The advertised hire charge of £10-14  per week for a wherry may seem low by today’s standards, but when you put that into context with the extra £1 or so a week paid for the services of a skipper, a cut of which may well have been taken by the boatyard before his wages were paid, you can see that it was by no means a cheap holiday.  There were less costly options available to the Victorian boater, however.

At the bottom end of the scale, an open boat with an awning which could be erected at night plus a couple of mattresses, suitable  for “two young men roughing it“, could be hired for around 30 shillings. Moving up in comfort levels were the cabin yachts which varied in size from a small, two berth yacht with limited facilities up to a large counter-sterned, cutter-rigged yacht like Mayflower which included a foc’sle with berths for a skipper and mate and a stove upon which to cook, two main cabins, a W.C., and storage cupboards. Costs varied from between £3 to £10 depending on the size of the craft and the time of year.

To obtain the greatest amount of comfort it is necessary to hire a wherry, and a Norfolk wherry, let me say, is a wonderful craft;” wrote John Bickerdyke in The Best Cruise On The Broads, first published in 1895. He continued; “Wherries have for years been the trading craft of the district, but now a great many are luxuriously fitted up for pleasure parties, and on our cruise we see many happy family seated on a garden seat on the fore deck.”

Furnished with sprung berths, soft rugs, cushions and blinds, equipped with oil lamps and all the necessary crockery, cutlery, glassware and table linens one would need, the pleasure wherries certainly provided a good level of comfort, although on board facilities were still quite basic by modern standards. The saloon, according to Ernest Suffling in Land of the Broads, was; “nicely carpeted and painted, etc., with a large dining table, and, at the after end, the crowning glory – a piano. After dark, with lamps lighted, and the merry party gathered around this instrument, many a happy hour is passed away.” It should be noted that use of these small, wherry pianos was charged at an extra 15 shillings per week. He considered ladies to be “out of place” on small yachts, a separate cabin was essential, and the larger yachts and wherries were therefore best suited to mixed parties. There were lists of,  and advertisements for, boat builders and owners who would let boats within the pages of some of the tourist guides and one would have booked directly with them. Suffling also offered to act as an agent for procuring suitable yachts for prospective holidaymakers upon written request.

Having chosen your boat, signed the hire agreement and paid the deposit, it was time to turn your attention to planning what to take and how to provision your holiday craft. On the subject of payment, the balance was paid upon arrival at the start of your holiday, although in How to Organize a Cruise on the Broads, Suffling recommended withholding full payment until the end of the trip “until the agreement has been properly fulfilled on the part of the owner, or his representative waterman.

The usual suggested boating attire for gentlemen included flannel trousers, shirts, a blazer and cap or straw boater, rubber soled tennis shoes, two pairs of socks and a change of underwear. Oilskins or a mackintosh were recommended for wet weather … not that it ever rained on the Broads, of course. Little advice was given about ladies clothing, but it must be said that the long dresses, starched corsets and elaborate hats seen in contemporary photographs don’t look the most practical of garments for boating. Ernest Suffling was one who tentatively broached the subject in The Land of the Broads; “For ladies dress (I will say little here, or I shall get out of my latitude), nothing can compare with navy serge made up in a very plain manner, so as to prevent few folds as possible for boughs of trees, oars, etc., to catch in. A little bright colour in the trimming, if you please, ladies! and be sure and wear strong watertight boots in place of dainty, fancy French shoes.

I would add a plentiful supply of hat pins to the list in order to keep that head-wear secure during the sudden, and violent squalls of wind, known as “rogers”, which we were warned we may encounter on the Broads during the summer months.

The subject of food was covered well in the guide books and stocking up on a good supply of tinned meat was deemed to be essential. Fresh meat was difficult to source in all but the larger towns. Whilst villages may have had a butcher, the lack of refrigeration meant that the sale of meat was done rather differently. Orders would be taken for the various joints of meat and an animal would not be dispatched until the whole carcase was sold. A variety of weird and wonderful meats could be found in tins – Ernest Suffling recommended curried rabbit, ox-cheek, hare soup, spiced beef and Australian mutton. Fresh rabbits were one of the few things which might be readily found in the countryside! He also suggested recipes for any freshwater fish you might catch including baked pike, broiled bream and fried perch.  A warning about a certain breakfast staple though; “Bacon, as a rule, is not good in Norfolk; some of the ‘home-cured’ being really not endurable by town dwellers.

Fresh vegetables were difficult to find, but probably didn’t feature too highly on the priority list anyway. Potatoes, however, “must not be forgotten“, and 1lb per person, per day was thought to be sufficient. Bread, milk and eggs could be purchased quite easily from various sources. Another warning came from Suffling about buying cheese, who implored us to “remember that Norfolk is noted for bad cheese. So beware!” John Bickerdyke begged us not to grumble at being charged more for goods as a summer visitor than one would would normally expect to pay in the village shops; “The prosperity of which depends upon the summer influx of visitors.

The photograph above was captioned, “Returning with provisions from Stalham” and is one from the D.W. Brading 1895 album, taken on Barton Broad. Mention was made of shallow upper reaches of rivers and some broads, preventing passage by craft with deep keels, a dinghy was therefore rather essential and was included within the hire of as yacht or wherry. “See that a good dinghy or ‘jolly boat’ is supplied,” Suffling entreated us in How To Organize a Cruise on the Broads, “and that she is provided with a lug sail to fit her, and a good pair of oars; for a vast amount of pleasure is derived by small exploring excursions from the yacht, up dykes and cuttings. The ‘jolly’ is also useful to visit the neighbouring villages for renewal of food supplies, posting letters, and a hundred and one other small services.

The holiday party were not necessarily expected to cook for themselves – this was usually the job of the skipper, or the attendant if there were two crew – although more adventurous holidaymakers were free to join in with both domestic and sailing duties on the boat should they so wish. You were, however, expected to keep the crew in food, beer and possibly even tobacco for the duration of the trip. In Best Cruise on the Broads, John Bickerdyke’s thoughts on the subject were; “It is by far best to tell a man, or men, at the outset that you will give them so much a week in respect of these items, and let them find their own. If you provide them with beer, they will either drink too much, or have a grievance in respect of not having enough. Give them money and they will hardly drink anything.”

Fresh water supplies were sourced from a village well or hand pump. This was usually stored in large stone bottles, as seen above in a photograph which was taken at Ludham Bridge c1900. Bickerdyke noted; “The places where good water is to be obtained are few and far between. Most of the county lies below the level of the rivers, and the water, though plentiful, is not very good. It is as well to take a filter, so that the water, if of doubtful purity, may be both filtered and boiled. The difficulty is surmounted by laying in a stock of mineral waters.” He continued; “It is as well to see that the man really does go to some well for the water, and does not fill the jar out of the river. River water does well enough for washing purposes.

Other forms of liquid refreshment were of great importance too during your cruise. Whilst various riverside hostelries were recommended in the guide books (for the availability of a decent hot meal as much as the ale) you were advised to stock up on your favourite tipples before setting off as the local offerings may not necessarily be to your taste. “Beer, of the peculiar sweet flavour in vogue in Norfolk, but, nevertheless, pure and wholesome, may be had anywhere. Some of the inns keep an old ale in stock called ‘Old Tom. It is exceedingly intoxicating, and costs one shilling per quart.” wrote Suffling. But if you hankered for something stronger still, then take heed; “The denizens of the coast appear to like a new, fiery spirit, be it whisky, rum, gin, or brandy, and they get what they like. Some of the whisky is warranted to kill at any distance.

If you’ve managed to ward off scurvy due to the lack of fruit and veg, avoided succumbing to galloping consumption from drinking well water or eating the local cheese, and haven’t been left insensible (or worse!) by the Norfolk whisky, then you’ll probably be wondering what you can see and do whilst on your cruise.

Angling had become a popular pastime and prospective visitors were encouraged to bring along their tackle, with hints and tips for novices given within the guide books.  Photography too was gaining interest amongst those who could afford the equipment and you may have noticed that the wherry plan further above in this article includes a dark room on board. “The artist may find anywhere, everywhere, pictures ready for his canvas of scenery that is peculiar to Norfolk.” Suffling told us. “To the archaeologist and searcher into things ecclesiastic, there are no end of churches, priories, castles, halls, and old buildings, which will afford him a vast fund of delightful research. To the entomologist, ornithologist, and botanist, I would say ‘By all means take your holiday here, for you may bring back with you specimens wherewith to beguile many a long winter’s evening with your favourite pursuit’.

The Victorians seem to have had an enormous appetite for shooting and stuffing anything that moved. Guns could be brought along, but the guide book authors attempted to discourage such practices. In The Handbook to the Rivers and Broads of Norfolk & Suffolk, George Christopher Davies appealed; “Let me earnestly entreat visitors not to fire off guns either at birds or bottles above Acle Bridge. The sport to the visitors is nil, while the annoyance to the riparian owners is extreme.” The Brading Family clearly ignored this advice as the photograph above shows. It is one of a series of the yacht Mayflower which were captioned as having been taken at Barton Staithe in 1895.

Ernest Suffling suggested that yachting parties bring lawn tennis and archery sets, quoits and cricket equipment with them to set up on the riverbanks, obviously with little concern for the landowners. George Christopher Davies dismissed such notions, telling his readers: “Pray don’t take such absurd advice, all riparian owners adhere strictly to their just rights.” For evening entertainment and wet weather days where the party were confined to the saloon, there were various recommendations. We’ve already mentioned the piano and, according to Suffling; “Frequently one of the party brings along his banjo …. He is usually the funny man of the party, the buffoon, the human ass..

Chess, backgammon, cards, book reading, sewing and “wool-work” were typical pastimes, along with compiling a scrapbook of your holiday. It was also suggested that you may use the time to take stock of the items you’ve collected during the trip for your botany collection. Various parlour games were included in the list too. In “Fill The Basket” one could make use of the abundant rations of potatoes which had been brought on board at the start of the trip. “Two players kneel on the floor opposite one another, three to four feet apart, in the centre a basket is placed, whilst in front of each player is placed a dozen of the largest, most ugly, and knobbly potatoes procurable.” Each player was then given a table spoon, or dessert spoon and by using only the spoon, the potatoes were transferred into the basket, the winner being the first to clear their pile.

Once your holiday had begun, there were a few “hitherto unwritten rules” of the Rivers and Broads from George Christopher Davies to adhere to:

Do not, in the neighbourhood of other yachts or houses, indulge in songs and revelry after eleven p.m., even at regatta times.

“Bathe only before eight o’clock in the morning, if in sight of other vessels or moored in a frequented part of the river. Ladies are not expected to turn out before eight, but after that time they are entitled to be free from any annoyance. Young men who lounge in a nude state on boats while ladies are passing (and I have known Norwich youths to do this) may be saluted with dust shot, or the end of a quant.

Do not throw straw or paper overboard to float to leeward and become offensive but burn, or take care to sink all rubbish.

Steam launches must not run at full speed past yachts moored to the bank, particularly when the occupants of the latter have things spread out for a meal.

Ladies, please don’t gather armfuls of flowers, berries, and grasses which, when faded, you leave in the boat or yacht for the unfortunate skipper to clear up.

You’ve made it to the end of your holiday and it’s time to depart. You may not necessarily be departing from the same place where you picked the boat up of course. A man with a horse and cart will collect your party and luggage and transport you to the nearest train station for your return journey home. In 1895, a return first class”Tourist” ticket from London to Wroxham Station (as seen above, photographed by Donald Shields) would have cost 34 shillings,  whilst a 3rd class ticket could be purchased for a more modest 20 shillings. The train journey would have taken a little over three hours.

The boats, the clothes and the availability of foodstuffs may have changed, but the appeals of the Broads and some of the advice given in the Victorian guide books still hold true today – with the exception of trying to sink your rubbish perhaps (lack of riverside rubbish bins notwithstanding). The facilities were somewhat basic, sourcing food and water needed greater patience and stamina and you made your own entertainment. But step on board your holiday craft, leave the cares of the world behind, cast off on your Broadland adventure and “one feels the glamour of it stealing over you.”

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The Cruise of the Merriment – Norfolk Broads August 1919

I was busily writing a blog post to accompany the set of 1880s photographs of the Norfolk Broads which I’m working to get on to Broadland Memories at the moment, when a lovely surprise popped up in my email inbox on Monday. It was the third instalment in the series of original Norfolk Broads sailing logs written by Edward Leslie Champness, this one dating from August 1919.

I downed keyboard immediately so that I could read the log which, given previous instalments, I knew would be an entertaining read. The two week trip took place a year after their honeymoon on the Broads and nine months after the end of the First World War,  Leslie and Rowena Champness being accompanied this time by four friends. The log has been transcribed, researched and laid out in PDF form once again by Bruce Robb, the couple’s grandson. The Cruise of the Merriment is slightly different in that each of the crew members, having been given suitable nautical nicknames, took it in turns to write up the log at the end of the day. It gives the log a different slant and is a very amusing and charming account of the adventures that the friends got up to along the way. Having splashed out on a hamper of provisions which was delivered by Harrods, instead of relying on Roys of Wroxham as they had on previous holidays, I was relieved to discover that Bovril and potatoes (which had been a staple during their 1918 trip) were still on the menu on day one! The group covered most of the northern rivers during their fortnight and attended the Potter Heigham and Ludham Regatta, one of the female members of the crew even won the ladies open swimming race. The log includes an original hand bill from the regatta along with numerous photos of the event and from the rest of the holiday.

A misadventure involving their boom and the trellis of a riverside bungalow at Potter Heigham led to them to seek the services of a “Walter” at the Norfolk Broads Yachting Company for repairs to Merriment. It is very likely that “Walter” was none other than Walter Woods, father of Herbert Woods. The crew then bought  wood and paint to make good the damage to the trellis themselves.  Different times!

This really is such a joyous read and you can find The Cruise of the Merriment on the main Personal Memories page of the Broadland Memories website.

In 1919, Leslie Champness was an Assistant Constructor in the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors, prior to the war he had qualified as a naval architect at Armstrong College in Newcastle. Mordaunt Mauleverer Parker, who was a fellow crew member on this trip, had been at Armstrong College with Champness and was also in the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors during the war. Bruce added the following information about his grandfather’s career in shipbuilding; “He was Assistant General Manager at Palmers in Jarrow and Hebburn on the Tyne in 1933 when the company went under – throwing most of the Jarrow out of work and leading directly to the Jarrow March. He (probably with the aid of others but family legend says he was the prime mover) managed to rescue the smaller Hebburn shipyard by getting Vickers-Armstrong to take it over and was Managing Director there up until his retirement in 1953.

My thanks once again to Bruce Robb for taking the time to transcribe the log and for allowing me to share it via Broadland Memories.

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Charles Hannaford Paintings

Regular visitors to the Broadland Memories website will have no doubt seen the first few sets of photographs from the Charles Hannaford Collection which I’ve uploaded over the last couple of months. The photographs are a wonderful record of both the Broads Tours business at Wroxham which was owned by him, and also of Broadland in general between the 1920s and 1960s.

There are still quite a few photographs from the collection to add to the website which cover various subjects including some of the Hannaford family photos, images of wherries, mills and sailing on the Broads. As many will remember, Charles Hannaford was also an accomplished watercolour artists and there will also be a section devoted to this aspect of his life. I touched on it briefly last year in the blog post Art, Photography & The Charm of the Norfolk Broads, in which I mentioned the fact that a large number of the photographs he had taken were for use as subject matter for his paintings, many of which were sold via the Broads Tours tearooms. It has been fascinating to be able to match up some of those photographs to his illustrations and paintings as I’ve gone through the collection. Hannafords great-nephew, William Allchin, remembers that Charles was very regimented about his painting and would tour the boatyard on his bicycle in the morning and then return to his studio above the tearoom at 11am on the dot every day. He would have hot milk and rum and then sit and paint for an hour.

I was recently contacted by Neil Witt who told me that his father, Tony, knew Charles Hannaford who regularly sent him a small painting at Christmas time. He sent me photographs of those paintings and has kindly allowed me to share them on Broadland Memories.

There are some very familiar scenes which I recognise as having been drawn from some of the photographs I have.  The above painting shows the footbridge at the entrance to the Porter and Haylett boatyard at Wroxham which stood on the opposite side of the river to the Broads Tours base. The character walking across the bridge and the yacht beyond have been added for more interest, but the inspiration appears to have come from the photograph below.

This is a beautiful little study of a river scene on the Norfolk Broads.

Reflections of a drainage mill in the water. Charles photographed many mills, bridges, boathouses and typical Broadland scenes as props for his paintings.

An atmospheric study showing the view from inside a boat house.

Wherries also featured often in Hannaford’s artwork and in his photographs, both traders and pleasure wherries. More of those to come in future uploads to the website.

My thanks to Neil and Tony Witt for allowing me to share the paintings on here.



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The Norfolk Broads in the 1970s

There have been several new additions to the Broadland Memories website over the last couple of months including the second part of the Charles Hannaford Collection of photographs, a rather nice sets of images from a 1948 holiday on the motor cruiser Valiant, another 1970s cine film and a couple of interesting sets of photos from the 1960s. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on a rather extensive collection of 35mm colour slides from the 1970s which provide a wonderful record of Broadland during that decade.

As much as I love historic images of Broadland from the early part of the 20th century, it’s always photographs from the 1960s and 1970s which prove to be most popular. It’s within living memory for many, and it’s also when quite a number of regular Broads visitors first discovered the joys of a boating holiday in the area. In September 2016, I purchased three carousels of slides of the Broads for the archive dating from the 1970s to the 1980s. Sadly, these are an orphaned collection once again which came with no background information. They document one family’s holidays in the area, initially on a houseboat at Wroxham in 1971, followed by the hire of two of the Emiline class of motor cruisers from Porter and Haylett, before moving on to sailing holidays on various craft. The photographer was clearly a very keen amateur and, by the way the slides were arranged and labelled in some instances, I think he may have been a member of a local camera club. One vital piece of information I do have is his name and address at the time, courtesy of stickers on a couple of the slides. Whilst I can’t tell you anything about him, or the family, it is nice to at least be able to attribute the slides to D.H. Barber who hailed from the Farnborough area of Hampshire.

There were getting on for 400 slides from the 1970s alone. I’ve whittled them down to around 150 to add to the main website, the first half of which are now prepared and ready for me to caption once I’ve finished the necessary research.  It’s quite a large batch to process in one go and will probably take me a week or two to caption, so I thought I’d preview a few choice slides on here to whet your appetite!

barber71_houseboat01This was the houseboat in which the Barber family holidayed in 1971, moored alongside the Kings Head Hotel. This particular houseboat doesn’t seem to appear in either Blake’s or Hoseason’s brochures in 1971, but similar, four berth houseboats cost between £20 – £36 per week depending on the time of year. In the background you can see The Horse Shoes pub which the 1974 edition of “The Broads Book” guide described as; “A big Watney Mann house built in 1962. English cooking, full lunch and dinner; snacks and sandwiches available. Bars and restaurant overlook the river. There are pleasant lawns, a large patio and rides for children.

barber71_wroxham03The view looking downstream from Wroxham Bridge in 1971. This is a wonderful illustration of just how much the riverside at Hoveton and Wroxham has changed over the last fifty five years. It must have been taken just before the boat sheds on the left, belonging to Jack Powles, were demolished to make way for the Hotel Wroxham.

barber71_sundogThe pleasure wherry Sundog seen moored on the River Bure near Wroxham in 1971. Built by Daniel Hall at Reedham in 1906, she was originally named Ecila (Alice spelt backwards). Jamie Campbell provided the following information; “Sundog was owned by H.A.Morris (father of Stewart – the most successful dinghy sailor of his generation). HAM was a London hop wholesaler and the founding commodore of the Norfolk Punt Club. The family spent entire summers on Sundog following the Broads regattas. Their boatman was Cubitt Nudd (formerly boatman to Emma Turner and latterly rigger at Herbert Woods) Herbert Morris died in 1935, when the Morrris family fleet was dispersed.” Sadly, just nine years after this photograph was taken, Sundog was photographed in a very sorry state, hauled out of the water onto dry land at Geldeston. A botched attempt at restoration saw her collapse and she ended her days as firewood.

barber70s_em1_boat01Moving on two or three years, the family returned to the Broads for two holidays aboard the Emiline class of motor cruisers, built by Porter & Haylett at Wroxham. This shows the family with Emiline 1, a four berth cruiser which cost around £79 to hire for a week during the summer of 1973. There were two single berths in the forward cabin, a saloon with extending dinette double berth behind the central wheelhouse, a galley and WC aft. There was no shower on board. The family would have made use of showers at yacht stations and pubs around the Broads.

barber70s_em_lud01It’s always fascinating to see how much the villages around Broadland have changed over the years and there are a nice set of photographs taken in Ludham during the early to mid 1970s. Whilst the buildings seen above are very familiar, with the Kings Arms just seen on the left, the Corner Cabin and Barclays Bank are no more and are now private residences.

barber70s_em_ph02This was the much loved Bridge Hotel at Potter Heigham, pictured c1975. It was a magnificent structure which replaced the earlier Waterman’s Arms pub, seemingly in the late 1880s following information uncovered after finding an early photograph amongst a set I purchased for Broadland Memories. The Bridge Hotel had been owned by the Bullards brewery, but by the time this photograph was taken it had become part of the Watney Mann Group. The hotel was destroyed by a fire in September 1990, believed to have been caused by an electrical fault. I posted a very sad photograph of the hotel in the aftermath of the fire in a 2011 blog post, it’s scant remains propped up by scaffolding. The site is now used as a car park by the residents of the Thurne bungalows, the only hint of it’s former use being the remains of old floor tiles from the hotel making up part of the surface of the car park, a ghostly footprint of this once popular watering hole.

barber70s_crestanova07The final preview of the collection shows Mrs Barber and one of their daughters on board Cresta Nova c1976 I would imagine. Built by Martham Ferry Boats c1970 and sleeping four to five, the 28ft Cresta Nova cost between £75-£105 to hire for a week in 1976. It was described as; “A modern motor-sailer with exceptional sailing qualities that you will appreciate. Built of glass fibre with an alloy mast mounted on the cabin top and easily lowered by winch.” The family also hired one of the Cresta class from the same boatyard during the 1970s and several river cruisers from Herbert Woods too.  It is an interesting collection which should hopefully start appearing on the main Broadland Memories website within the next week or two.

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Meeting Bert Weedon

Just before Christmas, a CD arrived in the post which contained a collection of images from the Taylor Family archives. The first photo on the disc was titled “Meeting Bert Weedon” – it’s an absolute gift of a blog post title, and a great photo too, so I couldn’t resist!

Janice Taylor-Barton had previously sent me a couple photos via the Broadland Memories Facebook page and kindly scanned the rest of the family collection, which were taken between the 1960s and the 1990s.The photo below shows Bert Weedon and his wife in the garden of the Bridge Inn at Acle with Janice (being held) and her sister.

taylor60s_bertweedon_smlThe name Bert Weedon will be familiar to many people over a certain age. Having already become an established session guitarist, playing with various big bands during the 1940s, and joining the BBC Show Band in the 1950s, Bert Weedon began releasing singles under his own name in the late 1950s. Chart success followed with hits which included Guitar Boogie Shuffle, Apache and Guitar Man.

weeedon_playinadayIt is perhaps his Play in a Day guide to modern guitar playing for which he became most well known. First published in 1957, and encouraging kids all over the world to pick up a guitar and do just that, Play in a Day has since been republished several times, and is still available to this day.  It’s impossible to say how many millions of guitarists learnt to play using his technique but there are some very hallowed names amongst them, including Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Keith Richards, Jimmie Page, Eric Clapton, Brian May, Mark Knopfler and Mike Oldfield who have all been cited as having started playing using the Play in a Day book . He continued to release singles over the next three decades and played on thousands of recordings with other musicians and singers during his lifelong career. He sadly passed away in 2012 aged 91 years.

It’s one of many celebrity visits and holidays on the Norfolk Broads which have been recorded over the years. One of the earliest blog posts I published was about famous fans of Broadland that included entertainer George Formby, comedian Dick Emery, TV magician David Nixon, Shadows guitarist Hank Marvin and various members of the Royal family. I recently came across  the mention of the legendary parties that were held at the Berney Arms Inn in the 1960s which attracted several of the stars of the day who were performing at Great Yarmouth for the summer season including Freddie & the Dreamers, Jimmy Tarbuck, Adam Faith and The Searchers.

I’m currently working on a very nice batch of colour slides from 1961 which will hopefully be uploaded later this week, but the 1960s set from the Taylor Family are next in line to add to the main Broadland Memories website. The rest of that collection will follow at intervals over the next few months. Many thanks to Janice Taylor-Barton once again.

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Kia Manzi – the story continues

You’ve got to love internet search engines. Once again, a casual conversation and reminiscences about the past has directed someone to the Broadland Memories blog, and with that has come an update to the Kia Manzi story. Kia Manzi, you may remember from an earlier blog post, was one of the three, distinctive, flat-roofed villas which were situated in Daisy Broad at Hoveton.

Further information and photographs of Kia Manzi were later provided by Chris Raynor whose grandfather owned the property in the 1960s and 1970s and this was covered in an update in April 2012. Since those original blog posts, I have found a number of photographs showing the villas over the years and, whilst I’ve still not been able to pinpoint the exact date that they were built, evidence found so far puts them at being considerably older than I first thought. The most recent discovery was a glimpse of Daisy Broad and the villas on a film from within the East Anglian Film Archive collection which dates from 1920 and can be viewed via the British Film Institute website as part of their Britain on Film project. The Broads of Norfolk and Suffolk is a great little travelogue, well worth watching, and The Beehive and Daisy Broad villas can be seen about one minute into the film.

Back to the latest update to the Kia Manzi story. Just before Christmas, I was contacted by Rosemary Misselbrook whose father owned Kia Manzi in the early 1960s. It was he who actually renamed the villa. Rosemary kindly sent me a couple of photographs dating from that time and provided the following informations:

My Parents bought the house early 60os, and my Father a retired RAF Officer, was still working in London, and they used it as a holiday home. My Father who was Rhodesian, named the house Kia Manzi which my Brother tells me is Matabele for Water House, or house on the water.  We changed the layout and put the sitting room upstairs.  Bought a little 2 berth cabin cruiser from the London Boat Show – called Clara, which was fibreglass – which took a few frowns from the old hands.  We also had a little Duckling dingy.  It was a great fun house with lots of visitors. I can’t remember what the house was originally called, but I think the three of them belonged to Dawn Craft, certainly later, and the other two were rented out in the summer.

misselbrrok63_kiamanzisnowThe photograph above shows Kia Manzi and a frozen Daisy Broad during the winter of 1963, one of the most notoriously harsh winters on record.

misselbrook60s_kiamanzialbionThe second of Rosemary’s photographs shows Kia Manzi during the summer with the wherry Albion, which was hired for a party, moored alongside.

It was lovely to discover the meaning of the name Kia Manzi and how appropriate it was. It would be interesting to know what the villa was called before the name change, but I’ve found no references to that so far. My thanks to Rosemary for getting in contact and for allowing me to share her photographs on here.


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