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Collected Personal Memories Of The 1960s

Gathering together the shorter personal memories about holidays and life in Broadland during the 1960s.

1960s History 1960s Memories 1960s Gallery

We begin this collection of personal stories with another tale from Ron Harrison who recalls a rather painful incident on a 1962 trip:

“An anecdote that is permanently etched in my memory. If you can bear it, here is the saga of the curtain hook:

In 1962 we arrived at South Walsham Broad, just as it was getting dusk. All the moorings had been taken, so we decided to moor in the middle of the Broad by using the mud weight. In the middle of the night the wind got stronger, and I was woken by my wife crying

"wake up, wake up, I think we are adrift"! I leaped out of bed, wiped the steam off the low windows, pressed my face against the glass and tried to peer out. It was pitch black and raining. When my eyes got accustomed to the dark, I could just make out a bank a few feet away. With that, I turned my head sharply, and one of the curtain hooks caught the division of my nostrils, and tore it through. I called to my wife to turn the light on, and when she saw my nose pouring with blood, burst into hysterical laughter!

I grabbed the nearest thing to hand (I think it was my underpants), pressed them against my nose, and dashed up on deck, I was afraid we might cause damage to other craft or property, slacked off the rope to the mud weight, and managed to get a couple of rhond anchors into the bank of mud and reeds, that had been dredged up (spoil, that I had seen through the window). However we had no trouble casting off the next morning.

I forgave my wife for laughing, (after about 20 years)!


I bet that's the biggest thing that has ever been hooked, on South Walsham Broad!”

Starlight at Acle in 1962

Whilst Ron had already enjoyed several Broadland holidays, it is often the first visit which sticks in the memory most. Hugh Moxon sent us his reminiscences of his first Holiday on the Norfolk Broads:

“My first trip to the broads was with my parents at the tender age of 10 in 1963. Bizarrely (considering what profound effect it was to have on me), I cannot remember what time of the year it was although likely to have been in the summer. The journey from Kent would have commenced early in the morning (no motorways) and I know we stopped at the Blue Boar (are we nearly there yet?). My parents had a gallon earthenware container which they liked to fill with decent local ale for use in emergencies (morning between breakfast and lunchtime pub stop – afternoon between pub stops- evening after returning from pub etc).  Then onto Wroxham (alright I now know its Hoveton), to R Moore and Sons, Marsh Road, to meet my home for the next week ‘Aviemore’ (now again all these years later I do not know whether she was 1, 2 or 3) but to my eyes beautiful (and still is) having discovered where everything was we set off.

Our destination was Stalham, my parents were friends of the vicar one Dan Chrissop a real character (whom some may remember)  he was sadly killed some years later in a road accident, knocked off his bike returning from watching ‘The Canaries’. That evening he visited us on the boat and would appear to have enjoyed a convivial time. The next morning being Sunday saw my mother confined to bed with a migraine which left my father and I to attend Morning Service, now, neither of us were what you would call heavy church goers (to be fair we never attended) and Dan was very unconventional in the way he conducted his services. My father had sat us about a quarter of the way back in what is/was a large parish church, sadly only a very few parishioners attended and all sat behind us, we spent an hour bobbing up and down and looking round to see if we should be sitting, standing, kneeling or whatever. Dan spent the service in the choir stalls with his feet up, as I said a very unconventional but lovely man. He produced a parish magazine called Penny Punch in which a regular contributor was Brian Rix of Whitehall farce fame (for those with as long a memory as mine).

I cannot recall much about the rest of the week other than how much I enjoyed myself, and that it was spent touring the Northern Rivers fishing and visiting pubs (no change there then). There was an    incident one afternoon, we were moored fishing as I recall when the boat was rocked by the wash caused by a River Inspector passing at speed, the old man let out such a bellow of rage, that the inspector came back after dealing with the incident he was off to and apologised.  The last night by tradition was spent at Coltishall, which allowed the right amount of time to clean and tidy the boat before arriving back at the yard. Oh how upset I was that day on leaving the boat. For years the smell of a warm diesel engine transported me back to that first trip”.

Robin Sermon also recalls his first trip to The Norfolk Broads in 1969 on one of Herbert Woods sailing cruisers:

Easter 1969 and aged 12. The previous summer had seen a first experience of sailing in a small dinghy in France. Now it as off for a week on a Broads yacht as part of a fleet based scout trip. 12 yachts, all from Herbert Woods and all from Potter Heigham. To minimise the cost we hired two berth yachts, but fitted four on them. This meant the young, first timers (myself included) sleeping on the floor between the berths. We had hired all 11 of the Gay Ladies and another, gaff rigged yacht called Peggy.

The long drive up from Winchester saw us arrive, pick up the box of pre ordered stores from Latham's and prepare for departure. Lifejackets were collected from a large shed and there was a steady bustle of repairs and preparation as boats were turned round from the previous hirers. We were also told to put our watches on by an hour. There was logic to this. The explanation was that when we got up for the early tide, it wouldn’t seem so bad. What it actually meant was that we youngsters could be told at 10pm that it was time to turn in, but as it was in fact only 9, the leaders could have 2 hours in the pub. This system worked to my advantage in later years, when I was a leader.

Eventually all the boats were organised and we set off for Thurne Mouth. Unfortunately at that time of year it gets dark early, and with the tendency that the wind has to die away around dusk as well, the gathering gloom saw us in the vicinity of St Benets Abbey. In an effort to react the proposed mooring, almost all of the fleet resorted to towing by hand (one crew member ashore, walking along the bank and pulling the boat). Impossible nowadays, thanks to the marker posts, and difficult then as the shallows were there, but not marked. So the introduction was stumbling along in the dark with rabbit holes to trip up the unwary and brambles to land in when you fell. Eventually we moored up for the night, and as a first timer I was expected to cook the dinner, even after doing most of the towing.

Anyway, that was a memorable start to what became a highly enjoyable week. I learned to raise and lower the mast, to sail the boat single handed, to cook on the basic stove where, with the cabin roof down whilst underway, the only viable way to work at the stove was sitting on the toilet. I had my first experience of the highest test of a Broads yachtsman’s skill, the engineless passage through Great Yarmouth.

This was the first of five such trips, and from such a distance they blur, and it’s difficult to remember what happened on each one, but over those years some moments stand out:

These trips must have instilled in me a love of the traditional. Nowadays you can’t hire a yacht from Herbert Woods, but I find myself irresistibly drawn to the basic traditional yachts of the Hunter Fleet, and a couple of times a year go some way to reliving those days.

Mike Whittaker also recalls his introduction to sailing on the Norfolk Broads in the 1960s:

Perfect Lady was my first introduction to the Broads in the summer of 1964. I can't remember which Perfect Lady it was (10?) but it was certainly one of them. It was a school holiday and teens of boats (14?) were hired from Herbert Woods. Each boat held up to six students of all ages - the youngest two slept on the cabin floor on mattresses. The skipper was an ex-student now at university and there was only one teacher for the whole party!


The first day was the journey down from the north-west by coach. It must have been an early start because the journey seemed to consist mainly of trying to get through Kings Lynn. In 1964 it was common for that part of the journey to take at least two hours on a Saturday. We arrived with enough time to get through PH bridge and make it up to Hickling where we moored on mudweights and used the dingy to row ashore to the Pleasure Boat. Despite being only sixteen there was no problem in being served – the row back to the boat was interesting. Which one is ours?

It must have been a windy week as we managed to get as far south as Beccles and back up to Barton in the time available. There were no motors on the boats in those days so it was quanting when the wind was foul or blanketed by the trees. The advantage of six on the boat was that you could change personnel frequently and keep up a good speed. With a large group it is rather like being in a regatta every day as I remember. We were all so competitive! The skippers would meet the teacher after an early breakfast and he would decide where we were would be mooring the next night. You had to be there at night but you could get there any way you liked! As choice was limited, it was just an all day race every day.

It was a largely uneventful cruise except when the fleet was heading to the Berney Arms. We came down the Yare on the ebb in the evening but the wind was dying and by the time we came to the Yare it had all but gone. The first boat tried to turn up into the Yare but started to go backwards. They had the presence of mind to get one rope ashore onto the rather dilapidated jetty at the junction of the two rivers. The second boat had similar problems and threw a rope to the first boat etc. The outcome was a long line of boats tied to this jetty by a single rope. It was too deep to quant! There was nothing for it but to wait for the tide to turn. We all cooked our meals and ate them, cleaned the boat and waited. It was dark by the time the flood came and we used the dingys to tow the boats across to the Berney. We were all ready for that drink. We had been watching that pub for hours. So near yet so far.........

Roy Haslam remembers his first holiday on the Norfolk Broads in 1969 onboard the motor cruiser Ranger 1:

Sometime in 1969 about 8 of us decided on a broads holiday, by the time we eventually set off to Southgates Lower Yard the party was down to 3 - usual excuses!! Girlfriend wont let me go!! Cant afford it etc!!! We had originally booked a 8 berth boat from Woods of Potter!! I had just passed my driving test and wanted to borrow my dads car but cause I was a new driver he didn’t think i had the experience for the journey. My dad came up with a compromise, he took my mother and sister to Caister and dropped our luggage off at the boatyard and we came down on a Robinsons of Bury coach which dropped us off at Horning en route to Great Yarmouth. That was us set up in Horning, food on boat delivered from Horning dairy. In those days you got a grocery list when you booked your boat, I remember the grocery bill was about 2 quid!!!

So here we are, my bro Denis, best friend John and me Roy. I would imagine we had no idea about tides etc. but remember going under Potter bridge in the afternoon, the day was a Saturday. The first night we moored up I think it was Heigham Sound, I remember we used the rond anchors. I was voted head chef!! A fry up was meal we all fancied, so we had 12 eggs from Horning Dairy. I cracked open one in the frying pan it was double yolker, the next was a double yolker, in excitement I cracked open all the eggs and lo and behold everyone a double yolker. They was common in those days, don’t see many these days. Well the evening meal was 8 yolks each, bacon, sausage, beans and toast. We was 3 teenagers and could eat a horse so was devoured no problem!! After the meal we had a good rummage around the boat and found lots of horse hair blankets - we couldn’t imagine when they would be used! We found out about 2 in the morn, all 3 of us woke up freezing!! That’s why they was there, no heating on Ranger 1. After breakfast we had a cruise around Hickling Broad then moored up and got the fishing tackle out, all three of us were serious anglers with our friend John in later years representing England in some tournaments. A great days fishing and sunbathing was followed by a great night in the Nelson Head, the first Broadland pub I ever went in - done most of them now!!

Ranger 1 from Southgates of Horning pictured in 1969 by Roy Haslam

The Following morning had breakfast and back under Potter bridge - were the river levels lower then, I certainly wouldn’t have consulted tide times etc?? Later that day we moored up on the island facing Horning village and spent a good part of the day pulling out some fab bream!! Whilst fishing, some young ladies appeared from a houseboat, 3 of them 3 of us!!! We soon forgot about the fishing! We had a fab time with the girls, they had a motor launch which knocked spots off our dinghy!! No holiday romance for my bro and me but our friend John fell for one of the girls and saw her in Bradford quite a few times but it fizzled out.

We had arranged to meet my ma and pa and sister at Gt Yarmouth so off we went. We met them and they took us to the holiday village they was at so we had a day on the amusements!! We stayed overnight at Yarmouth and went through Breydon, quite hair raising on Ranger 1 as it wasn’t a very powerful cruiser. It was like the open sea to us, quite frightening, but we made it and moored St Olaves. Found a pub that night but no idea of its name !! The next day saw us going back over Breydon. As we went up the Bure we was given a ticking off by some guy in a launch - official looking guy, uniform and cap. Who would he have been? River police? The trouble was we had the boat on full speed over Breydon and didn’t knock the revs down on the Bure. I can blame my bro Denis for that first time on broads and caught speeding !!!

I think that’s my story i cant remember anything else not even going home any way but the seed was sown and I have been back on numerous occasions since.

Top Ranger 1 pictured in 1969

See more of Ron’s photographs from the 1960s here