Another week, and another collection of photographs has been scanned ready for future addition to the Broadland Memories website! This particular set of photos comes from an album which records a holiday taken on board a motor cruiser in 1936. It never ceases to amaze me just how popular photography was during this era and how many photographs taken at the time still survive and find their way to me in one form or another.
My thanks go to Andrew Day for allowing me to have access to this particular collection. It’s going to be a while before they appear on the main website as I have two collections of 1970s photos to add, along with various personal memories and sundry bits and bobs, but they have been added to my ever increasing “To Do” list! Within any set of holiday photos from any era there is always something interesting which catches my eye on a first glance through. Once I have them on my computer and can study the images in detail then the research really begins! I’ve mentioned before that I often seem to go off on strange tangents and the photograph on the right is another example of that. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to identify the motor cruiser featured as most of the photos only show small bits of it, but here we see one of the crew at the helm. What caught my eye was the large case sitting on the coach roof to the left of the picture. It doesn’t look like luggage and at first I thought it might have been a wind-up gramophone. The shape of the case didn’t look quite right for the portable gramophones of the era so I then pondered whether it could actually be a portable radio …. were they really that large I wondered?
A quick scan through the 1935 edition of Blakes boating brochure revealed an advert for the McMichael “Suitcase Portable” wireless which certainly looks rather like the case seen in the 1936 photograph. It seem laughable now that such an unwieldy looking object could have been deemed “portable” when these days entire music collections are stored on iPods and MP3 players which fit in your pocket, but in the 1930s these were the latest gadgets for those with disposable income. The advertised purchase price of £15 15 shillings was a considerable sum at the time … to put it into context, you could have hired one of the latest six berth motor cruisers for a week in August for the same money! That probably equates to around £1,500 today! Both gramophones and portable wireless sets could be hired for the duration of your boating holiday, however, and stores such as Roys and Leo Robinsons boatyard at Oulton Broad offered this service. One London company advertised McMichael portables for hire which could be delivered to your yachting station along with spare accumulators (that’s batteries to you and I) at a cost of 20 shillings for one week or 30 shillings for a fortnights holiday.
In the introduction to a Broadland boating holiday in Blakes 1935 brochure it was noted: “Do you know that wireless reception on the Norfolk Broads is very good, and that if you have a wireless set that is not too cumbersome, it would be worth your while to consider taking it with you. Of course, a portable set is the ideal type for this purpose. We personally tested a McMichael “Super Range Portable Four” with splendid results.”
Whilst the essence of a boating holiday hasn’t really changed over the last 75 years, the gadgetry most certainly has!