Not everyone who visited Broadland over the years came to enjoy a boating holiday. The seaside resorts of Norfolk and Suffolk became hugely popular destinations during the Victorian era when the expansion of the rail networks made travel to the region accessible and affordable. Towns such as Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Cromer saw mass development to provide accommodation and attractions for the burgeoning tourist industry as travellers began to discover the delights of the East Anglian countryside.
The rivers and broads were certainly part of the attraction and many of those who holidayed at the seaside visited the Broadland towns and villages, often taking to the water on one of the many passenger steamers which operated in the area. As both Yarmouth and Lowestoft are “gateways” to the Broads, I like to include them within the remit of Broadland history. Even today, a visit to the seaside is a must for many who book cruising holidays, as is the hire of a dayboat or a trip on one of the modern tour boats for those who stay in land based accommodation on the coast.
I was delighted to receive four photographs last week which were taken at Broadland locations by a family group who holidayed in Great Yarmouth in 1908 and 1909. The photographs belong to Stella van der Gucht and feature her grandparents Lily Child and Harry Caston and she hoped that I may be able to identify the locations seen. The photo on the right is one of the collection and shows the party onboard a passenger boat at Wroxham Bridge. Stella also sent me several postcards of the area which had been bought at the time of those holidays. Through our correspondence about the images, it transpired that Lily had written day to day notes about what they did and the places they visited in 1908 and 1909 on the backs of all of these postcards.
I’m sure it will come as no surprise to learn that I was rather excited by this news as the social history aspect of what I do with the archive is the thing which probably fascinates me the most. I always love reading people’s memories of the area and learning about how they holidayed. Naturally, most of the accounts I have on the website are written within living memory so to have something from the Edwardian era is just wonderful! Stella very kindly scanned the backs of the postcards, transcribing her grandmother’s notes as she did so, and I think they will make a very interesting article which will hopefully give a little insight into a turn of the century holiday in Norfolk. Lily and Harry visited many places including St. Olaves, Reedham, Filby & Ormesby Broads, Lowestoft and Cromer to name but a few, but the notes also include mention of what they did in the evening such as attending plays at the Aquarium theatre, concerts on the beach and the circus for example. It is going to take me a while to do the research so that I can include some background information on what they did and where they went, but it will make it’s way on to the website at a later date along with the photos and postcards. The image, above left, shows Lily’s handwritten notes for the day on which the Wroxham photograph was taken.
She wrote; “Left Yarmouth for Wroxham at 9.20 by boat on the River Bure & Broads. Lovely trip. Arrived Wroxham at 1.20 & left there again for Yarmouth at 2.20. Took photos on the boat. Fine & sunny journey home. Went for walk with Harry by the sea in the evening.” Although she didn’t mention its name, the timings Lily gave for the boat’s departure, along with the evidence seen in the photograph, means that this was almost certainly a trip on the Queen of the Broads passenger steamer. Coincidentally, I happen to have an original advertisement dating from c1900 on the website which details the departure times and prices for the trips offered by the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Steam Company who owned both the Queen of the Broads and her sister ship the Pride of the Yare. On the right is a postcard which was loaned to me by Trevor Curson which dates from 1905 and shows the Queen of the Broads moored at Wroxham in exactly the same spot that she would have been when Lily and Harry’s photo was taken.
As I said, there will be quite a bit of research to do on this before I can publish the holiday notes on the website, not to mention the backlog of other submissions I have to work through first, but it is a delightful find and I hope it will also be of interest to others. I finally managed to collect my rebuilt computer over the weekend and will now be spending the next couple of weeks trying to get everything up and running on it again so that I can start work on the 60s and 70s photos and slides which were next in line. Please keep your fingers crossed for me! A huge thank you to the Broadland Memories Technical Support Team (that’s Andrew!) for his work over the last few weeks on my PC and for the loan of a temporary replacement. Without him I certainly wouldn’t be able to do what I do with the website and I am eternally grateful!