I’ve come over all Hello magazine this week and have been celeb spotting …. from Broadland’s past! The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads have a long association with attracting the rich and famous to its tranquil waters for some rest and relaxation, so I thought I’d piece together some of the confirmed and rumoured sightings there have been. The Hoseasons boating brochures of the 1960s and 1970s often contained articles about the “stars” who visited the Broads – over the years these included such names as Kenneth Horne, Dora Bryan, the singers Eve Boswell, Anita Harris and Frank Ifield, Ronnie Ronalde (famed for his whistling!), the actor John Gregson, TV magician David Nixon, comedian Dick Emery, Pat Phoenix (Elsie Tanner in Coronation Street) and Hank Marvin of the Shadows. Cliff Richard apparently used to own a boat on the Broads which he kept at Herbert Woods yard at Potter Heigham whilst Eric Morecambe had an Ocean 30 which was looked after by Brooms of Brundall. Patrick Troughton (the second TV Dr Who) spent several holidays in a riverside bungalow on the Thurne and some of the stars who worked the summer seasons at Great Yarmouth also rented riverside accomodation during their stay – Charlie Drake at Reedham and Rolf Harris at St. Olaves to name but two!
Windboats of Wroxham had many famous visitors over the years – John Pertwee (yet another Dr Who) came to look at the seacrete boats the yard produced in the 1960s whilst the actress Julie Andrews is rumoured to have honeymooned on a Flat-Afloat at Wayford Bridge! But probably their most well known client was the legendary George Formby who came to regard the Norfolk Broads as his second home. George and his wife Beryl first visited the area for a holiday in the 1940s and later went on to buy a riverside house called Heronby at Wroxham where he would often spend several months at a time during the summer. In 1953 George bought the motor cruiser “”Traumerei” which had been built by Windboats in 1950 and renamed it “Lady Beryl”, although this was sold in 1957 when the newly commissioned “Lady Beryl II” was launched – the photograph above shows George and Beryl with the designer Rip Martins at Windboats yard, with Lady Beryl II in the background. George also owned a 14ft wooden launch, built by Herbert Woods, which was regularly seen on the River Bure with George at the helm, popping to the shops for a daily newspaper …. the launch was named “Beryl” ….. I’m spotting a pattern here!
It’s not just celebrities who have been drawn to Broadland as members of the Royal family have been spotted too. King George V and George VI both made several visits to Hickling, staying at Whiteslea Lodge, and in 1959 a young Prince Charles, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, famously stayed at the Pleasure Boat Inn when Whiteslea Lodge was flooded. The Queen herself took a boat trip from Horning in 1976 to open the new conservation centre at Ranworth.
In more recent years, Michael Barrymore was seen holidaying on a Richardson’s cruiser, Jamie Oliver on a boat from Alphacraft and there was an infamous incident involving Roy Hudd and a Reedham quay ranger which is probably best glossed over! And this year, former X Factor finalist Stacey Solomon was seen in Acle, dining at the Bridge Inn with her family ….. a far nicer meal, I’m sure, than the whitchetty grubs and kangaroo unmentionables that she is currently snacking on in the jungle!
So who have you spotted on the rivers?