The Broads welcome around 7 million visitors each year. Most arrive by car or coach, but in the early 19th century, tourists arrived at the Norfolk coast by steamer, and then, from the 1840s, by train. The railways brought thousands of tourists each year until 1959, when the former M&GN railway closed. To discover the route, see the video below, from the Time Travel Artist.
Holidaymakers come to enjoy the waterways, and from 1860, wherries were converted, and pleasure wherries and wherry yachts were built especially for visitors seeking a relaxing holiday on quiet and unspoilt waters.
An early boatyard to hire boats was owned by John Loynes. By 1888 he was hiring yachts with full sleeping and cooking facilities for ‘self-catering’ from his yard in Wroxham. These yachts were more affordable than the wherries which came with a full crew.
The first holiday agency was established by Ernest Suffling. In 1899, he advertised 50 wherry yachts, sailing cutters, houseboats and a steam launch. Other agencies included Harry Blake from 1906, and W B Hoseason’s, which began in the 1940s at Oulton Broad.
Many other boat builders branched out into the holiday industry. One was Herbert Woods, at Potter Heigham. He built garages for clients’ cars and in the 1950s, his fleet of motor launches, with toilets and footbaths, was the most modern and luxurious of the time.
Today’s boats are more modern still, but the main attraction remains the peace and quiet of the waterways.
Boatyards identified themselves with logos and emblems, which they displayed on pennants attached to their hire boats. See how to make your own pennant inspired by a Broads Boatyard, below: