This postcard of the Thorpe Gardens Hotel was posted in 1904, the licensee at the time was Henry Chaston. Originally called the Three Tuns, it was built on the site of the Bishop Of Norwich’s former palace, was renamed the Boat and Bottle in 1965 and then became the Rushcutters in 1985. A well known former licensee was John Hart who was landlord of Thorpe Gardens between 1869 and 1879. In 1878 he took over the boat building business which had been run by Stephen Field at Thorpe Gardens and began to hire out cabin yachts and smaller pleasure craft. A few years later, the business was moved across the river to what eventually became known as Hart’s Island.
A view of the village taken from the rail bridge also dating from 1904 - Thorpe Gardens can be seen on the right and Hart’s boatyard on the left. When John Hart died in 1898, his son George took over the business and continued to build and hire out craft from Hart’s Island. The fleet expanded further under the G.Hart & Sons name, and when George died in 1927 his sons continued to run the yard under his name. They became known for their motor cruisers which were named after playing cards - Ace Of Hearts, Four, Five, Six of Hearts etc., which were all built to fit under the two low rail bridges at all states of tide. Boatbuilding ceased at Thorpe at the outbreak of WW2 - it is said that most of the fleet were taken off and rafted together as a barrier on Rockland Broad. In 1948, Commander Ron Ashby bought a majority share of the yard and it was renamed Hearts Cruisers.
Another postcard of Thorpe c1910. Taken from Thorpe Gardens (now the Rushcutters), where boats could also be hired - the rail bridge can be seen in the background.
St. Andrews Church at Thorpe c1910.
Wherry on Thorpe Reach c1910.
Thorpe riverside and St.Andrew’s church pictured during the early 1930s. The large motor cruiser on the right was called “Test”. In 1916 she was listed as being available to hire from G. Hart & Sons, but by the 1930s it had obviously been sold on to G.Hazell who also had a boatyard at Thorpe. Blakes 1933 brochure mentioned that Test had been reconditioned in 1928, was 50 feet in length and fitted with a 4 cyl, 20 hp Brooke engine. It also made special mention of the: “Promenade deck whole length of boat, railed in, making her safe in all weathers, and attractive to ladies.” The terms for a weeks hire in 1933 were between £13 15 shillings and £20 10 shillings, which included one attendant.
Thorpe Village c1930s/1940s. William Dutt called Thorpe St. Andrew the “Richmond Of Norfolk” at the turn of the century because of the picturesque surroundings which had made it a popular destination for picnic outings and day trips from Norwich during the late 19th century.
Another view of the river at Thorpe which dates from the mid 1930s. Jenner’s boatyard can be seen in the background with one of their cruisers on the river. The strange little houseboat on the left was “Nutcracker” which belonged to the artist Philippa Miller and was used as a base by her whilst she worked as a teacher in Norwich. Philippa was the daughter of Fred Miller who owned a boat building/ boat hire business at Oulton Broad. Nutcracker was built by her brother, Martin, and was a conversion of an old cabin yacht called Pelican. It was equipped with a small kitchen and saloon which had a working fireplace, a cabin with double and single berths and a bathroom at the front which included a bath which ran underneath the foredeck.
Thorpe River Green pictured in the 1960s.
Another view of Thorpe River Green from the early 1960s - Hearts Cruisers yard can be seen in the background.