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Extracts from Dragon’s Log 1950 – 1958

Written by Brig H E Hopthrow, Owner

Transcribed by his son John

1950s History 1950s Memories 1950s Gallery

Re-printed below are the original sailing logs from 1950-59 of the wherry “Dragon” as written by her then owner, Brigadier H.E. Hopthrow, with additional notes added in bracketed italics by his son John. My thanks go to John for kindly allowing me permission to publish this fascinating piece of Broadland’s history on here. Throughout the logs the family are referred to by their initials -  HEH is Brigadier Hopthrow, AKH is his wife Audrey, AKMH is their daughter Anne, and JLEH is their son John.


My first introduction to “Dragon” was during the summer of 1948 when in reply to an advertisement in The Eastern Daily Press an agent took us to her mooring in Brimbelow Road Wroxham (Hoveton). The owner was away and little was known by the agent of the condition of the hull but we (Audrey, my mother known throughout the log as AKH) were shown over her. Superficially she was very attractive to us and I made an offer subject to survey. After some bargaining with the agent lasting a few days negotiations lapsed.

In August 1949 over a box number an un named wherry was offered for sale. I immediately wrote for details. No reply was received until mid September when the owner Mr G W Eves wrote offering Dragon for sale. Negotiations continued with him over the whole of the winter during which time he sent her to Lowestoft for slipping and repair. AKH and I saw her on the slip on the last Sunday in October and Mr Austrin, manager of Stalham Yachting Station Ltd had inspected her earlier in the week.

On 19 November 1949 the owner formally accepted a conditional offer from me for purchase. On 4 February 1950 Mr Nat Bircham gave The (“The” was crossed out in the manuscript and from then on was never used by my Father, in fact he would get quite cross if people called her “THE Dragon” we always called her just Dragon) Dragon a trial run under power from her moorings at Wroxham round Wroxham Broad and back.

On 18 March 1950 I took over Dragon.


                               H.E. Hopthrow

Dragon was built at Press’s yard Wroxham, then owned by The Norfolk Broads Yachting Company, in 1900/01 ( launched 1901) The company was formed by Mr F H Chambers. It is believed that Dragon was built as a trader but converted to a pleasure wherry before she was launched according to Boss Applegates Diary she also had an extra depth of keel added after her launching year.

Wherry Dragon at Burgh Castle 1952


18th March   At noon Nat Bircham arrived at Dragon’s mooring (Brimbelow Road) to act as sailing master on a passage to Stalham. The morning had been fully occupied in checking the inventory and collecting various bits of gear from a number of store places. The sail had been delivered, after overhaul by Jeckells, still in a “bundle” on the deck. None of the running rigging was rove. There was a gale from the south west and in my estimation little prospect of sailing. Nat “thought otherwise” rove the gear bent on the sail and hoisted it while still moored! The mast whipped like a fishing rod. The sail was lowered for all to get lunch (AKH, HEH, Nat and his son John). Nat decided to sail under 2 reefs so we left the mooring under sail and motor at 2pm. Mr South, Mr Eves son in law, travelled with us as he had never seen the wherry under sail.

With motor running all the time we sailed down The Bure in heavy weather. It was a dead beat or close-hauled all the way till we turned into the Ant. At Ludham Bridge we had to lower the sail and mast and took the opportunity to refill the petrol tank. (In those early days the engine, Thorneycroft Handbill started on petrol then with luck when hot enough we turned over to TVO)

With a following gale the engine was stopped, both reefs shaken out, and we sailed at a great pace up The Ant, across Barton Broad and up to Stalham. With the exception of one yacht (Cordon Rouge) at the entrance to the broad no other boats were seen out during the whole passage. During the run up the Ant and across the Broad “Dragon” was probably travelling at her maximum Speed. We arrived at Stalham 5pm after a most exhilarating experience.

19th March (Sunday) Transferring gear from “Limberlost” (This was an old Broadland ice barge, about 50 foot long, which had been converted before The 2nd world war to a house boat my Father sold her to a family who due to the wartime housing shortage had been living in one room 8 feet square. They called her their” Palace”) to Dragon (AKH & HEH)

25th – 26th March (Saturday to Sunday) HEH Transferring gear filling with water and petrol. Dragon aground, very low water.

5th April (Wednesday) AKH, AKMH (my sister Anne) JLEH + the Dog Fossey arrived by train and taxi to prepare for Easter Cruise (slept ashore at Brightside, Stalham).

6th April (Thursday)  Airing bedding, filling up with water (this had to be done using the dinghy and a 5gallon can as there were no hose pipes available) and provisioning. Cousin Roy Taylor and HEH arrived by car in the evening. HEH friend Lt. Col Edgar Brawn (he designed The Romney Hut during the war and was on my Fathers staff) plus his children Vivian and David arrived to spend the weekend on Limberlost.

Limberlost at Stalham

7th April (Good Friday) HEH, AKH, JLEH, AKMH & Roy left Stalham under power, looked at “Barton Broad” turned and returned to Barton Staithe owing to gale and rain. In the afternoon, with Brawns as crew, we motored to Irstead Shoals & sailed back to Barton Staithe after tea. The wind had eased and we sailed round the Broad before retuning. During a gybe one engine room door was lost over board & retrieved by Viv in the Dingy “XIT” (nothing loose must be left on deck while sailing!)

8th April (Saturday) Gales and rain

9th April (Easter Sunday) Gale & rain. Rain eased after midday. Motored to Ludham Bridge, Brawns as crew. Wind lifted forepeak hatch and flung it in the river. Picked up by Roy in Xit. When turning in Barton Dyke stern mooring warp parted & caused a “diversion” (cast off running rigging unsuitable for warps unless carefully examined). The water point at Ludham Bridge was a lee shore & many boats calling. After filling up with water and 2 gallons of petrol (there were restrictions on the amount of petrol we were allowed to buy, the pump was hand operated) an abortive attempt was made to turn around, adjourned for tea! Lowered mast and motored through bridge and turned below it. Motored to Barton with mast down, blowing hard darkness falling making it difficult to see the dinghy towing astern. In trying to Ann on board ran aground in the Ant. Got off with aid of quants, “ Brawn”, engine and rising tide. Xit’s painter parted, David recovered her.

Towing painters must be robust and securely fastened) Passage in the dark both in The Ant and on Barton Broad very difficult lookout forward conned the way and gave hand and voice signals( as there are no lighted navigation marks on the boards) arrived Barton Staithe 8.25pm. Raised mast and moored. (I remember we had a large light fitting that would have clipped into a key slot on the mast, we never used it as it would have drained the batteries in next to no time)

10th April (Easter Monday) Retuned to Stalham under power, moored our mooring in the bight, having moved the green Yacht Roma. (We came to know the owner of this very pretty boat with a large bowsprit and counter stern, he used to take Barnardo’s boys on short sailing trips) Brawn family returned by car to London.

11th April (Tuesday) HEH returned to London by car Roy Taylor returned to Derby by train (from Stalham).

12th April (Wednesday) AKH, AKMH, JLEH  stowing gear.

 13th April (Thursday) AKH, AKMH, JLEH returned to London (from Wroxham).

23rd May AKH arrived on board.

 24th May AKMH, JLEH arrived. Nita (AKH Sister) called in.

26th May HEH and Eileen Roe arrived by car pm.

27th May (Saturday) Aground at berth, after much pulling and pushing and swinging got underway under power at 11.00am. Arrived Ludham Bridge 1.00pm and ran aground a ships length short of the water point. Plenty of water alongside. Left Ludham 2.30pm. Motored to Ranworth. Searched for anchorage in Malthouse Broad but found no holding blew aground! Floated on rising tide and motored into Ranworth Dyke for the night.

28th May (Whit Sunday) Left Ranworth under power 10.15am motored against head wind arriving Salhouse Broad 12.15pm anchored with new C.Q.R. anchor, it held. Took 2 reefs in, motored out of Broad 3.00pm hoisted sail and sailed with strong following wind to Ant mouth {Passed Horning 4.25pm}. Lowered sail at Ant mouth and motored to Ludham Bridge 5.45pm. Left Ludham Bridge under power 7.15pm arrived Barton Turf 9.00pm.

29th May (Whit Monday) Moored Barton, Sailing Elnora (Norfolk Broads one design dingy B67) Eileen Roe left at tea time.

30th May HEH left am. Remainder to Stalham in Xit.

31st May AKH, AKMH, JLEH  Painting plantshear white

1st June Painting. Calor Gas agent from Roys overhauling gas system. Replaced governor.

2nd June  AKH, AKMH, JLEH to Stalham in Xit (with 1.5 horse power Anzanie outboard)

HEH, Edgar and Bertha Brawn arrived by road 9.30pm.

 3rd June (Saturday) Motored to Ludham Bridge & onto South Walsham Broad. Very hot cloudless day, cruised round outer broad moored Fleet Dyke for Lunch. After lunch hoisted sail & sailed out of Fleet Dyke and up Bure to Wroxham Broad about 6.30pm. Dropped sail motored to Horning Ferry, moored for the night

4th June (Sunday) Motored to Ant Mouth, Ludham Bridge, Barton Broad (Noon). Raced Elnora pm but gave up owing to very light airs. Motored into Barton Staithe 3.30pm. HEH & Brawns left by road 5.00pm

5th June (Monday) AKH, AKMH, JLEH Left 9.00am by taxi. (driven and owned by Sonny Cox of Cox Bros. The car was yellow and black with leather upholstery, and the luggage was tied onto a collapsible rack on the back) Dragon was left moored at Barton Turf in the care of Cox Bros.

16th June (Friday) HEH, AKH with Ian and Tiny Aitkin arrived Barton by Road 9.15pm, some difficulty getting aboard as the Cox’s (with keys) could not be found!

17th June (Saturday) Left Barton Staithe about 10.30am, motored though Paddy’s Lane & hoisted sail in the Ant heading for Stalham. Ran into port bank at one of the sharp bends. Pulled off (astern) with engine & sailed down to Barton Broad as far as Pleasure Hill. Turned (with some difficulty), touched bottom, used engine to force way through the mud. Sailed up to Stalham arriving in time for lunch. Moored at “Limberlost’s” mooring. Spent the afternoon attending to Limberlost. After tea motored to Stalham Staithe took on water and petrol. Motored to Barton Staithe. Arrived 8.00pm collected Elnora from Cox’s yard.

18th June (Sunday) Sailing Elnora. John Proctor arrived am & helped pm with stowing. All left 5.00pm by road.

23rd June (Friday) AKH arrived Barton 3.30pm (rail to Wroxham, bus to Neatishead, Sonny Cox cab to Barton)

24th June (Saturday) Mrs and Miss Winifred Preston arrived am.

25th June (Sunday) Settling in.

6th June (Monday) AKH Left Barton am for Cheam. (at that time we lived at 66 Sandy Lane) The Preston’s spent a week onboard.

From this point were written some very rough notes kept by HEH.

28th July (Friday) HEH joined for annual 3 week holiday AKH, AKMH, JLEH aboard.

Brigadier & Mrs HE Hopthrow

29th July Provisioning

30th July (Sunday) Left Barton 2.55pm with Elnora in tow, arrived Ludham Bridge 5.00pm, left 7.45pm, Ant Mouth 8.05pm, Ranworth Dyke 8.55pm

1st August (Monday) HEH Fell overboard 9.00am. (As he could not swim, and none of us wore lifejacket,s this was a mildly dramatic event in which he received a wonderful bruise on his leg while getting out of the water via the rudder) Left Ranworth Dyke 9.30am arrived Wroxham Broad 12.05pm. From Monday to Friday raced Elnora at various times in Wroxham week, Liam Hudson joined us for a while.(During the week a very well kept motor boat would come alongside and sell us vegetables and ice cream)

4th August (Friday) AKMH Birthday. Left Wroxham Broad 6.50pm. Sailed part of way, engine trouble. Arrived Horning 9.15pm           

5th August (Saturday) Engine repairs am (chocked jets). Left horning 12.30pm, Ant Mouth 1.23pm, Ludham Bridge arr 1.50pm dept 2.15pm, sailed from Irstead to Barton Staithe arrived 4.00pm. Auntie Una joined us !

Last Wherry race on Barton Broad

7th August (Monday) HEH, AKH, AKMH sailed Freckles (20ft half-decker with centre board) in the Ant race, thereafter AKMH sailed Elnora in various races while the rest of us were busy with the wherry race.

All Wherries had professional skippers for the day. Dagon’s was Nat Bircham plus as crew HEH, AKH, AKMH, Liam Hudson, John Bircham. Also on board JLEH, Aunt Una and John Bircham’s girlfriend.

Started with mud weights down and gear on deck. Dragon first up with sail. Albion first away. Course Southwards – West gap – East gap (Deadmans hole) northwards, round north buoy. Twice round, Albion led by substantial margin all the way. Other three were repeatedly aground south of the Island (Pleasure Hill) Ardea finally unable to get off to complete.

Dragon and Claudian finished very close, Claudian 2nd Dragon 3rd (Claudian was the only wherry at that time that did not have a wind vane, only  a large burgee, Ardea had side stays on her mast, the result of a near miss by a bomb during the war. We were disappointed that the other sailing Wherries did not show for the race, they were Bramble, Hathor and Solace.) Nat Bircham sailed Freckles in one of the later races. Returned to the Staithe in the evening.

Four Wherries came to the start line:

Albion (trader) Norfolk Wherry Trust

Claudian (pleasure) Mr Hamilton

Ardea (pleasure) Flora Cunnliffe

Dragon (pleasure) HEH

Wherry Claudian at Barton Broad 1950

8th August (Tuesday) HEH, AKH, AKMH, JLEH & Liam Hudson (Aunt Una left to go home) 4pm  Dragon left Barton towing Elnora, Ludham 6.30pm, Potter Heigham 8.20pm

9th August (Wednesday) Moored Potter.

10th August (Thursday) AKM & Liam racing Elnora. AKM Badly damaged forearm needing Doctors attention due to being trapped between Xit and a motorboat. (She tried to fend off a reversing boat but used her arm as a fender!)

11th August (Friday) To Horsey Mere and returned. Sailed from Potter Heigham Bridge, Heigham Sound & also across Horsey Mere, slow progress on return (under power) through Meadow Dyke, took the ground often in Heigham Sound. Arrived Potter rail Bridge 11.00pm!!!

12th August (Saturday) Through Potter bridges 6.30am. Shortly afterwards while we were buying milk etc at the Bridge stores Fossey (the dog) boarded the Yarmouth bus on her own and was lost!

Looking for Fossey

13th August (Sunday) Fossey found, after much calling and cycling between Ormsby and Rollesby. (We had had to stay in our temporary mooring down river of the road bridge, no bypass in those days, in case Fossey found her own way back. Not only did we have the noise of the road but there was a steam driven cake-walk with only one tune, IVE GOT A LOVELY BUNCH OF COCONUTS, did we get fed up with that! The nickname of the showman owner painted on the side of this noisy machine was Rhubarb).We also saw a great attraction in the pub garden (up river and on the Yarmouth side of the Bridge). In the garden by the river was a large sign which read DON’T DISTURB THE WATER OTTER!  Attached to the post supporting the sign was a course, rusty chain which disappeared into the river and, when some well oiled customers had gathered, one of them was encouraged to pull the chain very slowly in, so as not to wake the Water Otter. Being a good Broadland river the chain was very muddy, and in those days when people went out for the day they dressed in their best clothes, so the puller of the chain got his/her clothes spattered in mud to add to his/her problems. Much advice was shouted from people on the Bridge who had a very good view. Eventually the end of the chain came in sight and there, tied to the chain, was a very dirty, very rusty KETTLE. Of course the puller threw it back into the river with considerable force and as the chain ran out it sprayed mud in all direction)

We left Potter at 12.45 for Great Yarmouth arriving 6.15pm (we left Elnora at Potter)

15August (Tuesday) After a quiet day in the Yacht station we left on the last of the ebb tide for Breydon 7.10am , Breydon 8.15am, Haddiscoe bridge 10.12am, 0ulton Broad 12.10pm.

16th/17th August

Moored at Oulton Broad.

18th August (Friday)

Left Oulton 9.50am Derek Townsend joined.   Arr St Olaves 12.30pm.

Dept. St Olaves 4.15pm.   Arr. Yarmouth Yacht Station 6.50p.

19th August (Saturday)

Dept. Yarmouth YS 10.00am, good sailing.  Arr Potter Heigham 2.15pm, Derek left.

Dept. Potter Heigham 6.40pm.  Arr. Womack dyke 7.10pm.

20 August (Sunday)

Dept Womack dyke 1.30pm.  Arr. Ranworth Broad 3.00pm.

Dept Ranworth 3.00pm.  Arr Horning 8.15pm.

21st August (Monday)

Dept Horning 7.15pm.  Arr. Wroxham 9.05pm.

22nd August (Tuesday)

Joined by L.T.C. & Angela Rolt. (The biographer of Brunel, The Stephensons and a number of books on the English Canals)

 Dept Wroxham 4.30pm.  Anchored Salhouse Broad for the night.

3rd August (Wednesday)

Dept. Salhouse Broad 11.45am.  Arr Ranworth Broad 2.15pm.

24th August (Thursday)

 Left Ranworth 11.15am.  Arr. Thurnmouth 12.35pm.

Arr. Womack water 1.20pm. Heavy weather centre of a cyclone.

Dept Womack water 3.00pm.  Arr. South Walsham Broad 6.00pm.

25th August (Friday)

Dept. South Walsham 10.45am.  Arr. Ludham Bridge 11.45am.

Dept Ludham Bridge 12.15pm.  Arr Barton Turf  1.55pm.

26 August (Saturday)


27 August (Sunday) To Stalham and return (Rolts went by motor launch to Wayford Bridge).

28th August (Monday) HEH left for London with The Rolts early am. Aunt Nita arrived later in day. (HEH went back to work and returned at weekends, remainder of family stayed on board)  

2nd September (Saturday) HEH arrived.

3rd September (Sunday) To Barton Broad, AKMH and Maureen Townsend racing Elnora. Eleven on Dragon for tea (Eve of HEH & AKH Silver wedding)  Dept Barton Broad for Stalham calling at The Staithe on way. Derek Townsend and Bill Griffiths on board.

Arr Stalham 7.00pm.  Dept 8.40pm.

Arr Barton Staithe 9.15pm.

4th September (Monday) Silver Wedding HEH & AKH (I remember Father gave my Mother a Sterling Silver sugar bowl with a Chelsea Blue glass liner)

Dept. Staithe sailed the Broad and then to Stalham.  

Arr Stalham 5.00pm.

Dept Stalham 6.00pm.

Arr Barton Staithe 7.00pm.

9th September (Saturday) Quanted into Cox’s dyke Barton.

10th September (Sunday) Laying up, HEH Left for London by car

11th September (Monday) Laying up.

12th September (Tuesday) AKH & JLEH Left by taxi and train from Wroxham.

Later that week all the spare gear blocks, skylights, tiller, upholstery loaded onto one of Percy Wilton’s coal lorries and sent to our house in Cheam for winter storage and maintenance.

Dragon at Barton Turf

See more of John Hopthrow’s photographs from the 1950s


22nd March (Thursday) Motored from London to Barton. Arrived 11.00 pm stayed at the Townsend’s Cottage. (Claypits Cottage, Barton Turf)

23rd March (Good Friday) Rain. HEH, AKH, JLEH stripping paint in galley. There had been no need to pump Dragon all winter.

24th March (Saturday)  Snow. Still stripping paint in Galley.

 25th March (Easter Sunday) Ditto

 26th March (Easter Monday) Painting galley and WC. Returned to Cheam by road.

All the soft furnishing and blocks and other loose gear transported from Cheam to Dragon on Mr Wilton’s coal lorry between Easter and Whitsun.

11th May (Friday) HEH, AKH, JLEH plus Major and Mrs Pitchford on board.

12th May (Saturday) Left Barton am bent sail. Cruised to Wroxham Broad. Towed Elnora. AKMH joined Horning left at Wroxham.

13th May (Sunday) Very rough day. Bent Elnora’s sails, left her at NBYC.

14th May (Whit Monday) Returned Barton.

25th May (Friday) HEH, AKH, JLEH, plus Una Taylor (one of my mother’s sisters)

26th May (Saturday) To Stalham pm.

27th May (Sunday) On Barton Broad.

Barton Regatta 1950s

8th June (Friday) HEH, AKH, JLEH

9th June (Saturday) Barton AKMH in splints. (she had just had an operation on her knees)

10th June (Sunday) Friends joined for day to Stalham and back.

 (Three following weekends spent on Dragon but no information in Diary)

 20th July (Friday)  HEH, AKH, JLEH, Mr & Mrs Hanks.

 21st July (Saturday) To Stalham, moored in Stalham river for night.

22nd July (Sunday) To Barton Broad, raced Freckles (Freckles was a half-decked centreboard boat with a huge mast for her Bermudan sail plan, HEH had bought her in about 1948 from the boatyard at Sutton Staithe. The transom and about 2 inches of most of the adjoining hull planks had been rotten because of the way she had been stored during the war, so the boatyard cut about 6 inches off her and replaced the transom. She sailed best in very light weather and had HY on the sail for recognition in races. My Fathers first name was Harry. She had probably been rigged with a gaff and a bowsprit at some time before we had her) Returned to Barton Staithe.

27th July (Friday) Commencement of HEH summer holiday. HEH, AKH, AKMH, JLEH plus Mr & Mrs Mitchell and their daughter Anne joined Dragon.

28th July (Saturday) Anchored Barton Broad.

29th July (Sunday) Sailed Dragon on the broad, Norman Mitchell fell overboard in the Ant (quanting I think) Raced Freckles HEH, NM, AKH. Anchored on Broad for night. Mitchells left late pm

30th July (Tuesday) HEH, AKH, AKMH, JLEH anchored on Barton Broad. Painted cabin top with non slip paint. Heavy weather, returned to Staithe pm.

31st July (Tuesday) Heavy thunderstorm am then to Ranworth

1st August (Wednesday) In Ranworth Dam scraped Dragon’s mast (unvarnished part)

2nd August (Thursday) Ranworth to Wroxham Broad for open Regatta.

3rd August (Friday) Wroxham Broad ( Norfolk Punt Club Regatta) AKMH HEH raced Elnora. To Wroxham Bridge for NPC Dance.

4th August (Saturday) AKMH Birthday Wroxham to Barton Staithe towing Elnora.

5th August (Sunday) Anchored on Barton Broad NPC Festival Race. Raced Freckles & Elnora.

6th August (Monday) BARTON REGATTA  HEH, AKH, AKMH, JLEH, plus Townsends, Wiltons and others. No wherry race (no wherries except Dragon) Raced Freckles & Elnora. Good weather until 4.00pm when rain started and wind dropped.

7th August (Tuesday) Gale during night, slipped anchor cable and returned to Staithe early am.

8th August (Wednesday)  Good weather after the storm, sailed Dragon on the Broad, then to Stalham and returned to Barton Staithe.

9th August (Thursday) By car to Overy’s yard on Lake Lothing to arrange the slipping of Dragon.

10th August (Friday) AKH, HEH left by road to London for John Tourney’s Wedding. AKMH, JLEH plus Maureen Townsend left on board.

11th August (Saturday) AKH, HEH Returned to Dragon.

12th August (Sunday) Left Barton for Beccles

15th August (Wednesday) HEH, AKH, AKMH, JLEH plus Maureen Townsend, picked up Mr & Mrs Townsend at Yarmouth. Sailed across Breydon towing Elnora. Elnora hit and stove in by “Pirate” of Banhams. Towed her to Beccles where she was returned to Herbert Woods for repair. (The whole of starboard side was replaced from waterline to gunwale)

18th August (Saturday) Arrived Oulton Broad to wait for space on Overy’s slip.

30th August (Thursday) To Lake Lothing handed her over to yard. Family returned home.

6th September (Thursday) Dragon returned to Oulton Broad by yard  Family plus Derek Townsend on board.

8th September (Saturday) To St Olaves

9th September (Sunday) Left St Olaves 7am, arr. Barton Staithe 7pm, sailed Yarmouth to Ant mouth.

17th September All left for home at the end of holiday.

John Hopthrow on Dragon

5th October  HEH, AKMH, AKH, JLEH + Miss Gledhill and Michael Horsman to Ranworth Broad. AKMH and Michael sailed Elnora from Wroxham to Ranworth.

7th October (Sunday) Returned to Barton Staithe to lay-up, Freckles to Sutton Staithe Boat Yard , Xit to Stalham.

8th October (Monday) Returned to London. Anne and Michael stayed on and sailed Elnora.

12th-13th October Loading Percy Wiltons Lorry with Dragons gear and furnishings. Returned home.

Work done during winter at Home: All blocks and tiller scraped and varnished. Plus repairs to loo, and galley doors.


Work done by Cox’s boatyard: Gaff scraped and varnished.


10th April HEH, AKH, JLEH at Barton (stayed Townsends Cottage “Claypits”) uncovering Dragon, cleaning bilges, painting inside to starboard cabin(flat white) varnishing outside upperworks, new shelves in saloon, painting food locker (gloss white).

Bilge had made no water except small amount of rain water through decks throughout the winter. Engine started easily.

19th April Percy Wilton collected all the gear from home (Cheam).

20th April HEH, AKH, JLEH and AKMH (from N & N Hospital where she was training as a Nurse)

20th April To Stalham for water.


21st April HEH , AKH return to London. AKMH, JLEH + various nurses spent a week on board.

2nd May HEH + Liam Hudson arrived.

3rd May To Horning under motor. Rove new main

31st August (Sunday)      Wherry Race Breydon

HEH, AKH, JLEH, and Peter Maddock on board. Moved from St Olaves to Burgh Castle am partly under sail, arrived 11.10am and moored on west bank with Albion and Hathor. Dr Eddy and Dr Richard Ashby joined us at noon. Meeting to discuss race details with officers of Yarmouth and Gorleston Sailing Club aboard Hathor at 12.30pm. Race started 2.15pm from Burgh Castle. Wherries moored in line ahead on west bank. Handicap - Albion scratch, Hathor 1min start, Dragon 3min start. All gear on deck ,commence to hoist at gun signals. Mooring slipped. Wind westerly, very fresh. Peter Maddock and Richard Ashby on the winch, Dr Eddy and AKH on the moorings, AKH gaff line, JLEH timekeeper, George Cates Pilot, HEH Skipper.

Breydon Wherry Race 1952

News then reached us that Albion had been dis-masted and had retired, and that Hathor was disqualified because she had not properly rounded the mark (we heard no more of the latter) so we relaxed our efforts to re-float and waited for the tide to re-float us. We then tacked to Upper Dickey Works, eased our sheets and crossed the line at Burgh Castle 156 minutes, 23secs after the start. Other times were  Hathor 104 minutes, 7 secs (50 seconds to raise sail), Albion retired (30 seconds to raise sail). Hathor received the 1st prize £5, Dragon 2nd £3.

To the crew of Dragon the race was a thrilling experience although the 2nd grounding was a disappointment. We could probably have made a successful protest against Hathor about the foul near the mark but it was not that sort of race and it is unlikely that the foul gave Hathor any unfair advantage. Albion’s dis-masting was not entirely unexpected as there was a known weakness at the point of breaking. The wind was so fresh other boats could not stand without a reef. Lady Mayhew presented the prizes. Two days later we passed Hathor at her mooring at How Hill and heard from her skipper, Albert Grimes, that she had got stuck under Vauxhall Bridge Yarmouth on a rising tide and had split both sides of her Tabernacle, a grave misfortune.

After taking in 4 gallons of petrol at Ludham Bridge JohnLEH dropped half a water lollipop into the petrol tank! (I thought I was very unfairly treated over this incident, I did not realise at the time how difficult it was to get petrol)

At this point in the log there are no more entries until:

14th September (Sunday) Packing up, rain and squalls. HEH, AKH, JLEH left for home 5.00pm after a very enjoyable summer.

27th September (Saturday)  HEH arrived alone about 10.00am, left Barton towing Freckles and Xit, arrived at Sutton for lunch and left Freckles with Bert Richardson. Fine morning. Left Sutton after Lunch in pouring rain with two visitors and a dog.

Got away to good start (60 seconds to hoist sail) reaching. As we swung into Breydon we freed our wind until we were on a dead run and then a gybe. The mark boat (to be left to port) was about 3 1/2 miles from the starting line ,and so placed that we had to gybe round it. The first attempt produced a Chinese gybe which was soon righted. We had been sailing down Breydon at high speed. ( The leedeck was awash and the bow wave was up to the face. There are no close  pictures of this as there were no motor boats about in those days that could do over 10 knots) We rounded the mark very, very close, at that time Hathor was 2nd just behind us, as we turned she tried to overtake and struck us on the rudder with her port bow. We both ran aground level with the mark facing up Breydon. (The mark was a small dingy with a man sat in it, at this point he had had enough and rowed for home) While we were aground Albion passed us! Dragon got away in 2 to 3 minutes and Hathor in a further 2 to 3 minutes, having put a member of her crew in the water with a rope tied around his waist to push her off. Hathor rapidly overtook us in the first mile of tacking. Shortly after this Dragon took the ground again and remained on for some time.

John Hopthrow 2007

Further Reading: The Wherry Dragon 1901 to 1970 - the history of Dragon by Carol Gingell


See more of John Hopthrow’s photographs from the 1950s