We’ve had a week out on the southern rivers and I am now trying to catch up with website emails received whilst I was away. Amongst them are some more photos and information on some of the topics I’ve covered on the blog recently, including a couple of updates on ex-Broads Tours boats which will follow in a later post. For now I’ll concentrate on a follow up to the previous article about the ex-lifeboats which were converted for use on the Broads with some more information on the Friend of all Nations.
The photograph on the left was sent to me by Vaughan Ashby and shows the Friend of all Nations moored alongside Thorpe Gardens (now the Rushutters pub) in 1963. The photograph was taken at the launch of the newly built Hearts cruiser Heartthrob – seen in the foreground. Vaughan says: “FOAN was moored in Thorpe from the late 1940′s right through to the late 60′s and for most of this time was owned by Cyril Fiske, who was foreman painter at Hearts Cruisers. He left to work in Norwich when my father sold the yard in 1966. He always kept her in good condition and she still had the Thornycroft “Handy Billy” engine. She also had a Baby Blake (large bowl) toilet in a compartment, on the door of which was a sign saying: ‘For best function of this toilet please imagine yourself playing a slide trombone whilst riding a bicycle’.“
As I mentioned in the previous post, FOAN had been on hire with Eastick’s at Acle before the Second World War and, thanks to Vaughan, we now know what happened to her in the two decades following the war. If you can fill in any more gaps in her history, or know where she moved too when she left Thorpe St. Andrew in the late 1960s, then please do get in touch. Fast forward to the present day and an eagle-eyed friend happened to spot FOAN whilst out and about last week and managed to grab a quick photo for me. As previously mentioned, she was craned out of the water at Reedham a few months ago and is now lying in a garden in Norfolk. She’s been smartly painted and makes a very unusual, but rather attractive, garden feature! It’s sad that her waterborne days are over, but it’s good to know that this historic vessel is in some way preserved and didn’t just end up as firewood.