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Boatbuilder Harry Last

Harry Last’s Apprenticeship

Harry left school on July 1st 1913 on his thirteenth birthday. He was apprenticed to a local fishmonger but hated it, so on October 22nd 1914 Harry and his father signed the indenture papers for his apprenticeship with the Colby Brothers at Lake Lothing, near Oulton Broad. At the end of his seven year apprenticeship Harry built his apprentice piece, a pond yacht named Ethel which can be seen at the museum.

In 1924 Harry married Ethel Breach, whose father, Billy Breach, was the senior shipwright at Colby’s yard. While Billy and Harry were both at Colby’s they would crew on Mr Colby’s racing yacht. In 1921 Billy Breach took over the boatyard at Coldham Hall, which also came with the Coldham Hall Tavern, and Harry went to work with his future father-in-law.

During his time at W. J. Breach’s boatyard, Harry built many different types of craft including the first Reedham Ferry. He also owned and raced several Waveney One Design yachts as well as building and racing motor boats on Oulton Broad. In 1951 Harry founded the Coldham Hall Sailing Club, which still organises the biggest Broads sailing cruiser race on the Broads, the Yare Navigation Race.

Harry took over Breach’s boatyard and the Tavern when Billy died in 1954. He built a bungalow next door to the yard where he and Ethel lived until her death in 1976 and his death in 1998, aged 98 years.