I’ve had a rummage through the news archives once again to bring you another “On this Day” in Broadland’s history. This time we’re going back 29 years to the 15th July 1983 with a story which touches upon two very current Broads issues.
Control of Breydon Water has recently passed into the jurisdiction of the Broads Authority, but back in 1983 it was the responsibility of the Great Yarmouth Port & Haven Commissioners, as was the entire Broads network at this time. Concerns have been voiced over the Authority’s ability to now prevent craft from crossing if conditions are deemed to be too dangerous, but this story from 1983 shows that it wasn’t unknown for this to happen in the past, albeit that the reason in this instance was not due to adverse weather! With the recent announcement that boaters on the Broads are once again going to be encouraged to double moor at busy locations, it’s also an illustration of a rather extreme situation when refusal to comply just wasn’t an option!
On the 15th July 1983, the Great Yarmouth Mercury reported on an incident which left around 140 hire boats which had been attempting to head back to their home yards at the end of the week stranded on either side of Breydon Water after the discovery of a what was believed to be a bomb. Work was under way on the construction of the new Breydon road bridge when a suspect device was discovered by dredgers working in the vicinity of the old rail bridge. It was thought that this may have been a relic from the enemy bombing raids on Great Yarmouth during WW2. The bomb disposal team from Portsmouth were summoned and the GYP&HC made the decision to seal off Breydon immediately until they arrived to deal with the offending object. I can imagine that the scene at Great Yarmouth Yacht Station must have been sheer chaos as nearly 100 hire cruisers attempted to double and triple moor for the night. Across the other side of Breydon another 42 cruisers were moored at the Berney Arms overnight. It wasn’t until late in the evening that the object was declared “harmless“. There must have been a real panic at the boatyards the following day with so many boats returning late, needing to be prepared for the next groups of holidaymakers.
Looking through the scans I took of Ray Walker’s scrapbooks, in which he collected dozens of Broads related news articles between the 1960s and the late 1980s, I discovered a report on a similar incident from the late 1970s. Dredgers working near to the Waveney River Centre at Burgh St. Peter discovered what was described as “a spherical object with ominous looking horns“, the navigation was closed and the Royal Navy bomb disposal unit were duly called. This was no false alarm, the object was identified as being a mine of the type which was laid to dissuade enemy seaplanes from landing on the rivers and broads during the Second World War and was thought to have probably drifted up-river from Oulton Broad over the years. The mine was towed out into the middle of the river and detonated, the resulting plume of water could apparently be seen from quite a considerable distance away.
It does make you wonder what else might still be out there lurking in the depths!