A Boys Own Adventure – The Norfolk Broads in the 1920s

The latest uploads to the Broadland Memories website are a pair of Norfolk Broads related magazine articles from the early 1920s, published in what was probably one of the longest running, and most iconic boys magazines in Britain.

The first edition of the Boys Own Paper appeared as a weekly publication in 1879 and by the time the final copy hit the shelves in 1967, over 2500 issues had been published. Originally produced by the Religious Tract Society, the Boys Own Paper aimed to encourage boys and young men to read whilst instilling christian values via adventure stories and articles on the natural world, science, sports and other leisure pastimes. In 1913 it became a monthly publication, its ownership passing through the hands of at least three other publishing companies until its demise.  Some illustrious names contributed articles and stories over the years too, including W.G. Grace, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, Issac Asimov and astronomer Patrick Moore.

I recently came across two copies of the paper which contained articles about the Norfolk Broads that also feature some rather beautiful cover artwork. Both were written by l. Warren Rimmer, about whom I can find very little other than he also contributed articles on crag climbing in Britain and caravan holidays to the same publication in the 1920s and 1930s. The June 1921 edition included a two page write-up entitled “A Holiday on The Broads – How to spend an enjoyable summer fortnight” but it was the cover which first caught my eye as it is so evocative and typical of the era. It bears the signature of T.M.R. Whitwell who, it turns out, provided the illustrations for the covers for some of P.G. Wodehouse’s earlier books.  He also produced artwork for a number of other boys magazines and story books during the late 1800s and through the first quarter of the 20th century. The Norfolk Broads article includes several photographs, one of which shows a crew member “surf-riding”. or being towed along in the behind the boat, clinging on the a plank of wood attached to a rope. Some things never change!

In July 1922, The Boys Own Paper published a follow up piece written by L. Warren Rimmer. “Sailing on The Broads – How to spend an enjoyable summer holiday”, is a four page instructional article aimed at encouraging novices to try sailing on the Norfolk Broads. It was an era when such holidays were beginning to become an option for a wider section of society, having previously been the preserve of  those with means. The author wrote: “Of course you will say that yachting is a pastime only to be indulged in by the moneyed classes; but let me explain, dear reader, that a holiday on The Broads will call for infinitely less monetary support than you have been accustomed to give when spending previous holidays at a formal seaside resort.” Indeed, Harry Blake included a breakdown of the cost of a typical Broads holiday in his annual yachting lists which, for 1929, worked out at around £7 10 shillings per person for a party of 6. That is a grand total of £45 which includes includes £24 for the hire of a yacht, £18 for provisions, £2 for sundries and £1 for a meal at an inn before going on board. It’s still quite a considerable sum compared to the average weekly wage of the time, but I think that the Boys Own Paper was aimed very squarely at the middle classes. Once again, the magazine sported a very striking piece of artwork on the cover to illustrate the article within. Although unsigned, it does look  very similar in style to the previous cover – is this another example of Thomas Whitwell’s work I wonder? It’s all very Ripping Yarns stuff.

The two articles can be found in PDF form in the Newspaper and Magazine cuttings section of the Broadland Memories website: 1920s News Articles


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