Kia Manzi and the Daisy Broad Villas – the story so far

Back in 2012 I posted an old photograph showing the three identical villas which once stood on Daisy Broad at Hoveton. The postcard was believed to date from the 1930s, although the buildings themselves looked rather more modern than that date suggested. So began the story of Kia Manzi and the Dasiy Broad villas.

A couple of months later I was contacted by Chris Raynor whose grandfather had owned one of those villas, Kia Manzi in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Chris had many fond memories of holidays spent there and sent me a wonderful collection of photographs which you can find here on the main Broadland Memories website. An updated blog post duly appeared to accompany Chris’s contribution to the story but we were no nearer to establishing when the villas were actually built.

The original c1930s postcard of Daisy Broad can be seen above. The villas appeared on the 1938 ordnance survey map of the area but they had yet to be built when the photograph below was taken. I had originally dated the postcard it came from to the 1920s or 1930s, but there were no real clues to provide a definitive date for it. It shows the entrance to Daisy Broad with the building which later became the Beehive Stores on the left. Postcard manufacturers were well known for reusing photographs which were taken years, and sometimes decades earlier, which meant that this could possibly date from the early years of the 20th century. A more solid clue came when I spotted the villas in a film held by the East Anglian Film Archive which appeared on the BFI’s Britain on Film Project. The Broads of Norfolk and Suffolk is dated to 1920 which meant that the villas were probably built just after the First World War.  I received a little more information regarding the un-named architect who designed and built the villas. Apparently, he was mortified when shortly after the villas were built, they began to sink into the marshy ground and is alleged to have taken his own life as a partial consequence. It’s an extremely tragic tale if true.

A few months ago I was sent another photograph which featured Daisy Broad and the three villas by Linda Gowans (seen below). She found it among a collection of others which spanned the years between 1926 to 1938. The photographer is unknown, and this was the only image taken in the East of England, the remaining photos being of the Isle of Man, Cornwall and Merseyside.

Kia Manzi can be seen on the left of the photo and the chap in the foreground appears to be standing in the aft well of a wherry. I would guess that a date of the early 1930s looks about right. My thanks to Linda for allowing me to share the photograph on here.

In the early stages of looking into the history of these distinctive buildings, I came across evidence of the subsidence problem via brochure entries from the 1950s and 1960s for the other two villas, then named Southernholme and Broadwaters. The 1958 entry for Southernholme in the Hoseason’s brochure of that year showed that it was noticeably lower than it had been in the 1930s postcard. Linda’s photograph really illustrates that difference quite clearly. Just two years later, the ground floor had obviously become unusable and the upper floor was now a single level holiday flat.

By the early 1970s, what remained of the former ground floor storey of both Southernholme and Broad waters had been removed and the upper floor now stood on stilts as the 1972 brochure entry on the right shows. Kia Manzi fared better than the other two villas and still retained both floors when Chris Raynor’s grandfather owned it, although Chris does remember having to walk downhill to patio doors from the river and that it always seemed somewhat damp inside. Chris also told me that the name was given to the villa by a previous owner, an ex RAF officer. The photograph above is from the Raynor family collection and dates from the late 1960s. The power of the internet is sometimes a wonderful thing as, in January last year, I was contacted by the daughter of that former owner who confirmed that her father, who was Rhodesian, had christened it Kia Manzi which was the Matabele word for “house on the water”. Rosemary Misselbrook recalled the family remodelled the layout to move the sitting room upstairs and bought a little cruiser from the London Boat Show to use as a runabout. She couldn’t remember what the house had been called prior to her father buying it, but thinks that all three were owned by Dawncraft at that time. Rosemary also sent me another couple of photographs of Kia Manzi whilst under their ownership to add to the story including the image below which shows Kia Manzi during the notoriously harsh winter of 1963. That is the river in the foreground!

Southernholme and Broadwaters were both demolished in the mid 1990s and new properties were built in their place. Kia Manzi survived for a few more years, but it too was eventually demolished and replaced. The photograph below, taken in May 2012, shows all three of the new houses with the new Kia Manzi on the left.

As always, if anyone can provide more information about the history of Kia Manzi and the Dasiy Broad villas, then please do get in contact via the main Broadland Memories website.

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