Another of the local boat hire agencies of the time were Broads Holidays who were
based at Great Yarmouth. In 1968 they opened their new Port Of Yarmouth Marina which,
it was hoped, would relieve some of the congestion at the popular Yacht Station where
boats had been mooring two or three abreast during high season. As well as running
their own fleet of boats from here they also represented fourteen other yards including
Classic Cruisers at Thorpe, Toby Holidays Ltd and Symonds at St.Olaves, Lady Cruisers
at Burgh Castle, Martham Boatyard and Bells Craft at Stokesby. Pirate Craft of Brundall
were also on their books and some of the craft they offered for hire included the
2/3 berth “Morgans Gold” and the 4 berth “Captain Morgan” and “Morgans Treasure”,
whilst Whispering Reeds yard at Hickling offered the 2 berth “Snow Goose” and “Wild
Goose” at a cost of £26 to £53 per week.
Changes were still going on around Broadland, in 1967 Winboats opened their new “Port
Of Wroxham” and the old Breydon swing bridge, originally opened in 1903 and closed
in 1953, was demolished. In 1968 a new road bridge replaced the old rail bridge at
Potter Heigham and the new road bridge at Wayford was completed. Many of the family
run village shops now displayed the “Mace Stores” name. Some of the attractions available
to visitors to Broadland in the late 1960s included the miniature railway at Barton
House in Wroxham, and Hoveton Great Broad nature trail. Slightly further afield was
the Norfolk Wildlife Park at Great Witchingham where you could see “Pooh” the Malayan
Sunbear and a collection of coypus.
Coypus had become a major problem on the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads, spreading throughout
the area since World War 2 having initially escaped from fur farms in the region.
By the 1960s they had colonised most of Broadland as it provided them with the perfect
habitat. Major damage had been done to banks and vegetation as they had voracious
appetites and the size of their burrows caused large areas of the riverbank to collapse.
During the summer months they fed on Reed Grass and Lesser Reed Mace but, during
the winter, their attentions turned to farmed crops, most noticeably sugar beet.
Although the cold winter of 1963 had eliminated quite a few of them there was still
a significant number causing problems. By the late 1960s an eradication programme
had been introduced but it was a battle that was to last well into the 1980s before
the last Coypu was caught.
At this time some of the boatyards were deciding to move out of the hire market and
began to sell off their fleets. Jenners had grouped together with the neighbouring
A.G.Wards yard at Thorpe in the late 1950s, purchasing the Town House Guest House
and effectively having one large yard with all boats flying under the Jenners flag.
During the mid 1960s they also began acquiring boats and purchasing other fleets
from yards including Hearts Cruisers, Dawncraft, Pegg Marine, Wards, Wilsons and
Windboats. In 1967, Landamores at Wroxham decided to sell off their fleet of Vestella
and Vesta motor cruisers which were also purchased by Jenners. It seems that Jenners
overstretched themselves and in 1968 the fleet was taken over by The Caister Group
who already owned the largest fleet on the Broads after the purchase of several high
profile yards in the mid 1960s.
Although Landamores had decided to sell off their fleet of motor cruisers on the
Broads they did not move away from the hire market altogether. In 1968 they brought
in a small fleet of 6 fibreglass TL90 yachts which were hired for a while through
Blakes under the name “Cascade”. These 30 foot, 4 berth yachts had an alloy mast,
large panoramic windows and were very different to the traditional Broads sailing
cruisers. This was the company’s first venture into production yachts and the TL90
was actually designed for estuaries although Blakes listed them as “the Broads version
of a modern light displacement offshore cruiser/racer” and a “sailboat for sailors”.
The cost of a weeks hire was £32 to £48 per week. New motor cruisers featured in
the 1968 brochure included the 7 berth “Super Star 7” described as being “based on
the latest American design with open plan layout” and the 10 berth “Star Magna”.
Both of these craft were built by Powles of Wroxham.
By 1969 Blakes were offering 1250 boats from 40 yards whilst Hoseasons had 850 boats
available from 60 yards. Hoseasons also introduced weekend breaks to their brochure
for the first time but these could only be booked, when available, out of the main
summer holiday season. New boats listed included the 4/5 berth “Bounty Brigand” (an
Alphacraft DC30) and the 7 berth “Bounty Bure” (a Bourne 35) from Bounty Boats at
Brundall. J.E.Fletcher, also in Brundall, had the 5 berth, all wooden “Searcher”
and F.B.Wilds introduced the new 34ft “Bermuda”, a smaller version of the popular
Caribbean cruiser. The 4 berth “Bermudas” cost from £34 to £62 per week to hire or
just £19 for a weekend out of season.
As the 1960s drew to an end it was clear that the hire industry was changing. Throughout
the decade the numbers of modern, fibre glass boats had increased and the introduction
of showers, warm air heating and other modern conveniences on board had dispelled
the myth that a boating holiday meant “roughing it”. Although many of the older 2-3
berth boats retained their petrol engines, the majority of larger vessels in the
fleets now had diesel engines fitted and the introduction by Frank Wilds of the first
12 foot beam craft had set a trend that would see larger hire boats capable of sleeping
up to 10 or 12 people built during the next decade. The boating holiday was to continue
to boom for a while but the large corporations were about to move in on the hire
industry, and the increasing availability of cheap package holidays abroad was to
have a major affect on the numbers of holidaymakers who visited Broadland.
By 1967 Bradbeers “Red Whale Fleet” were representing several boatyards including
Brinkcraft at Wroxham, Peterkincraft, Bees Boats and Alpha Craft of Brundall, Mistral
Craft at Loddon and Norfolk Knights Ltd at Horning. They also represented Martham
Boats who were, by then, running nine of their 7 berth “Juliettes” amongst their
fleet. The first of these had been built in 1957 and the latest was added in 1966.
In 1967 a weeks hire cost from £38 to £68 per week while the smaller 4 berth Jocelyn
cost between £22 and £49 per week. The 2 berth yacht “Jenny” could be hired from
£22 upwards whilst the 4 berth “Japonicas”, of which there were eight, cost from
£23 - £35 per week.