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The Charles Hannaford Collection

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Art and The Charm of The Norfolk Broads

Charles Hannaford Charles Hannaford Hannaford boat Norfolk wherry and mill Potter Heigham Bridge illustration Princess Mary at the Broads Tours base Princess Mary illustration Lower Street Horning 1920s Lower Street Horning illustration Charles Hannaford workings Hannaford dinghy illustration Princess Margaret illustration Hannaford fishing illustration C Hannaford wherry illustration Hannaford mill illustration Hannaford Thurne Mill Porter and Haylett footbridge Wroxham Hannaford footbridge painting Hannaford boathouse painting Hannaford reflections painting Hannaford sail boat painting Hannaford wherry painting

I was thrilled to find several photographs within the collection which matched up with some of the drawings from “The Charm of the Norfolk Broads. The photograph above shows the Broads Tours launch “Princess Mary” lying alongside the garden in front of the Boathouse. Princess Mary was built for George Smith’s original Broads Tours fleet by Alfred Pegg c1923. She was originally about 45 feet in length but was lengthened just a few years later by Graham Bunn. According to Pegg’s daughter she was cut in half with a hand saw and pulled apart so that the new 20 foot section could be inserted. Princess Mary left the Broads in 2003 and was transported to the Forth and Clyde Canal in Scotland where she was used to run passenger trips from the Falkirk Wheel. More about her history and time in Scotland can be found in the Broadland Memories Blog post ; Broads Tours - Princess Mary.


The illustration of Princess Mary as it appeared in “The Charm of The Norfolk Broads” booklet, in which Hannaford referred to her as the “flagship” of the Broads Tours fleet.


This was Lower Street in Horning, photographed by Charles in the 1920s. The view looks up towards the Swan Hotel, the Shell sign on the left hangs outside the boatyard of H.C. Banham. It’s another image which was used as a reference for the illustration below which appeared in “The Charm of The Norfolk Broads.”


Lower Street in Horning by Charles Hannaford. The accompanying notes read: “Of the villages of the Broads country I think pride of place should go to Horning. There are no two houses or cottages that are alike in its comparatively long street called Lower Street with glimpses of the river between them on the southern side.”


Another delightful find amongst the box of photographs, this photograph[h of a lug-sailed dinghy was used as the subject for yet another drawing for the booklet. The angle clearly wasn’t quite right, so Charles had drawn a box around it to act as a guide to change the heel of the boat.


Large sailing boats are naturally outnumbered in our narrow waters by the ‘Little Ships’. The 20-footers, the Norfolk Punts, the Norfolk Dinghies and the 12-foot National Dinghies are all a joy to watch - perfect boats, perfectly handled!

In Charles’ own words: “Here is ‘Princess Margaret.’ We call her the ‘Children’s Boat.’ I don’t know why - except that she often carries family picnics and her skipper as a family man makes light of holding a baby.” Princess Margaret was built c1903/1904 by Herbert Bunn (father of Graham) and was constructed of Archangel redwood over oak with a teak superstructure. She was commissioned for Sir Robert Price MP and she was originally named Archangel. She was later sold to a “Billy” Smith at the Horseshoes public house at Hoveton – I presume this must refer to William Smith who was one of George’s sons. William Smith became a director at Broads Tours when Charles Hannaford bought the business in 1935 and it was around this time that Archangel was renamed Princess Margaret. In 1971 she was purchased by Cedric Lovewell who fitted a steam engine, extended the rear cabin, and ran her as a trip boat from Norwich. In 1975 she was fitted out as a Royal barge for the visit to Norwich of Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. She was sold after this and had a Vedette petrol engine installed and seems to have passed through the hands of several owners since, including hotelier and TV personality Ruth Watson. She was up for sale again in 2012 on the Thames through Henley Sales & Charter and Val Wyatt, her name having reverted to Archangel.


Fishermen from time to time make history when record Pike are taken in the autumn and winter, but to those who achieve no such fame there comes a very real and restful pleasure angling for Bream, Roach, Rudd, Perch and the like.


A reference to the newly formed Norfolk Wherry Trust accompanied this illustration: “The wherry and the mill mean so much in a Broads landscape that widespread interest is being taken in an appeal for a trust to save something - perhaps a wherry and a mill - before all disappear.” Following the inaugural meeting in February 1949, the wherry “Plane”, then owned by Colman’s of Norwich, was made available to the trust for restoration. She was deemed sound but had lost her mast by this point. The summer was spent restoring her and on the 11th October 1949 she sailed from Yarmouth to Norwich having had her original name of “Albion” re-instated.


Fishing boats at Horning Ferry in pre-war days.

Here is a glimpse of the mill at Thurne from the cabin of my motor cruiser.


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Whilst Charles Hannaford’s name will be remembered for his connection to the Broads Tours business, many will know him through his artwork. As previously mentioned, Charles was the son of the renowned landscape artist Charles E Hannaford, and had himself studied at Plymouth Art School before choosing banking as a career. During his time in Norfolk, he was a prolific painter,  with many of his works being sold via the Broads Tours tearooms. He would religiously devote time each day to retire to his studio, where he would indulge in a hot milk with rum, and then sit and paint. His artwork also provided the illustrations for “The Charm of The Norfolk Broads” booklet which was first produced in the late 1940s as a souvenir for Broads Tours passengers. Some of those illustrations are included below along with more of the photographs from his collection, many of which  were actually taken to provide subject material for his watercolours and ink drawings.


Charles Hannaford at work, brush in hand and paint palette on his knee. The white mooring post beside him has becom a makeshift table for his paints.


Another shot showing Charles painting, this time on board the launch “Brown Moth.”


An unusual dinghy which features in several photographs. It is thought that this may have been used by Charles as a platform from which to paint.


When I first began to look through the box of photographs which belonged to Charles, I found quite a number which had pencil marks, grids drawn on them, ink splatters or, like the image above, visual notes scribbled on as a reference for him to work from. It is lovely to see how he worked. Both the trading wherry and the derelict mill are, as yet, unidentified. Wherries and mills feature heavily amongst his photographs and his paintings. In “The Charm of The Norfolk Broads,” he wrote: “The river below Horning has a Dutch appearance. Miles of level marshlands whose horizon is only broken by the drainage windmills so sadly now neglected - nearly all with individual characteristics - most with their sails in bits.


This sketch of Potter Heigham is another example of the visual notes Charles made for himself to work from. It includes information on colours and structure and was one of many drawings which appeared in “The Charm of The Norfolk Broads” booklet with the caption; “I find a sketch I did of the BRIDGE and I put it here as I made it.


Wroxham Bridge

The final illustration from “The Charm of The Norfolk Broads” was the cover image for the booklet and depicts a Broads Tours Launch near to Wroxham Bridge. The delightful introduction sums it all up rather nicely:: “This little book is not properly a ‘guide’ but rather a collection of random notes and thoughts, and I have published it mainly as a souvenir for those who make a short journey from Wroxham with Broads Tours Limited. Among the users of my boats I like to imagine the many who, having a few hours or a day with us, return again and again and grow to know well and to love these few hundred square miles of enchanted country and perhaps to join, for good, those of us who like ‘messing about with boats’ in a climate that was in the time of King James 1 described as ‘pleasant for habitation - good, sweet and where the air is delectable.”


After I began to put the Hannaford Collection online, I was contacted by Neil Witt who told me that his father, Tony, knew Charles Hannaford who regularly sent him a small painting at Christmas time. He sent me photographs of those paintings which are reproduced above and below. There are some very familiar scenes which I recognise as having been drawn from some of the photographs I have.  This scene shows the footbridge at the entrance to the Porter and Haylett boatyard at Wroxham which stood on the opposite side of the river to the Broads Tours base.


Was this the photograph which was used as the reference for the painting above I wonder?


An atmospheric study showing the view from inside a boat house.


Reflections of a Broadland drainage mill in the water.


A beautiful little study of a river scene on the Norfolk Broads.


The final painting from Tony Witt’s collection features a trading wherry.


Coming next in the collection - Wherries and Mills.