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I think Seamaster is on at the same time as the forum?

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Enough! This is a massive fuss that does nobody any good.

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Personally I will be glad when it rains and cools this weather down and then tempers and moods may be a little brighter.      It is such a huge shame that members are leaving because they feel their opinions are not of the many.       I wish all that those that have left would return and make this forum all the more richer for it.


By the way talking of meetings - hows the Gazebo and Tug of War fund coming on?




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I have attended most of these shows I Star Premiere and I assume myself have been critiqued I certainly have lost any sleep over it. If there is somebody I don't much like I will probably get through the weekend without speaking to them. Before those I don't speak to take umbridge it will take me all weekend to walk the length of the quay. Some people keep Vodka so it takes me even longer.So persevered insults or real get over it .

I have never met you I don't think unless it was the first time you attended, and of course I could be a culprit. I had rather hoped to have a looksee at  BG but way over the other side not much chance I regret to say, still enjoy your weekend I know I will. Oh and bye the bye no offence is intended by anything I have written in this post.

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On 04/04/2018 at 12:05, socrates said:

"Everything is stacked against you, but for some reason some silly chaps seem to be driven to it......"

Sir Christopher Cockerell wrote these words when describing the process of inventing the hovercraft. Such words can equally be said about restoring a wooden boat they certainly apply in our case. With another few days until we are down working on BG with our (no longer) mysterious friend of hatch fame- Ricardo. 

In the meantime, I thought I would follow Aristotle's example, by providing some history of Ripplecraft boats and Broadland Grebe (for those who like such things). I know there are several members of this forum who know far more about the history of the Broads than I do, so please feel free to correct and contribute as and when. I would be more than glad to receive any information ad pictures. For the sake of brevity, and me having to do other things, I will write this in several parts.

Ripplecraft was a company set up by Christopher Cockerell in 1950, at Oulton Broad. Cockerell was working for the electronics company Marconi, where he and his team had designed and built the R1155 and T115 radio transmitters and receivers as used by RAF Bomber Command. My late father flew in the Wellington and Lancaster with Bomber and Coastal Command as a radio operator/navigator, so I was aware of the importance of Cockerell's inventions for direction finding. I was also familiar with the concept of radio and direction finding from my previous life in the Royal Navy working with radar and associated equipment. Of course, Cockerell's most well-known invention was the hovercraft, there is one on the top of the memorial at Somerleyton. 

Initially building caravans,the first Ripplecraft boats designed by Cockerell came out of the yard at Oulton Broad in 1951. I have been told that Cockerell also purchased boats from E W Jackson and this is how the names of the later boats came about. These sailing boats, which he rented out were: Widgeon, Sheldrake, Heron and Tern. He then started designing 24 foot motor cruisers which were built through the years 1952-56. Again, from what I have been told, they were named Widgeon (2), Pintail, Mallard, Goldeneye and Shelduck. According to a Blakes brochure of 1955, these boats were fitted with Ford 10hp petrol engines. However, someone told me they had Morris 8hp engines. Someone may be able to shed some light on these boats as to whether there are any still around. I have copies of pictures of these boats but not sure if I can post them here due to copyright (advice needed, please). 

In 1953, Ripplecaft relocated to Somerleyton, where the company took over the staithe of the old brickworks (1880-1939). At this point I am somewhat confused. According to one source there were huts there from World War 2, another source claims that Cockerell purchased the ex-Army sheds and moved them to Somerleyton. Whatever the story, the sheds are still there and BG is in one of them. 

Once the work on the small boats had been completed, work began on larger cruisers. These cruisers were to be state of the art for their day, described as: "Streamlined luxury, fully lined, all weather boats." At 32' 6", with 6 berths, they were designed to go under every bridge on the Broads (subject to tides), and were fitted with a fully sliding roof. They were powered by the Lister Freedom marine diesel engine. Between 1956 and 1966, 10 of these boats were constructed to Cockerell's  innovative streamlined design. It was the lines of the boat that appealed to me, when I first saw the Ripplecraft it reminded me of the shape of the Sir Nigel Gresley's A4 Pacific locomotive which I have much admired since a child. (Yes, I am a locomotive enthusiast, not to be confused with a train spotter)

During my somewhat limited research, I have discovered that there are various accounts of when Broadland  Grebe was built. There is a degree of confusion about the names of the boats linked to the registration numbers. Thus, we are unable to categorically say the exact date of the building and completion of BG, it is either 1958 or 1960, depending on who you ask and where the information comes from. I have been informed that there was some sort of re-naming of boats for "tax purposes". Two boats were transferred to other yards on the Broads, Broadland Curlew being sold to Maidencraft of Thorpe and Broadland Falcon became Broadland Kingfisher when she moved to Jenners of Thorpe. Broadland Kingfisher was later re-named Gay Brigand, but returned to Ripplecraft to be named Broadland Heron. Perhaps someone else knows the story? 

The information we have obtained comes from a variety of sources, we met a chap called Dave at Potter who has a Ripplecraft, Broadland Swift, which is currently undergoing restoration. He seemed to be an authority on the boats, as did another chap, also called Dave, who restores wooden boats and has a collection of Blakes brochures from the time. I love reading the description of the boats which have "stainless steel sinks", "full size gas oven", and "ice box". In 1969, at  £14.7s (per person) high season, the cost of hiring these boats was not cheap, given the average wage was around £30 per week. 

Another Ripplecraft is Broadland Lapwing, which has been fully restored. Lapwing, at 35' 6", is longer than the rest of the class and the last to be built at Somerleyton. I will say nothing more about Lapwing because Ricardo will know much more. By 1970, no wooden boats were being built at Somerleyton but there was a boat by the name of Dabchick which was converted from Broadland Teal. Dabchick appears in Blake's brochure of 1971, but I know very little else about her. Ripplecraft introduced fibreglass cruisers in 1970, these were Bermuda 35's named Tahiti and a Caribbean class named Barracuda, both these boats were transferred to France in 1977. By 1977, Ripplecraft had also acquired 15 boats from the Fowler's fleet which had been based at Oulton Broad. 

Of course I could be wrong here, any help would be much appreciated. As far as I am aware the only survivors are: Broadland Lapwing, based at Belaugh and fully restored, Broadland Kestrel, based at Oulton Broad but not usable, Broadland Swift, based at Potter and undergoing restoration, and Broadland Grebe. According to the rumour mill, there are a couple on the Thames or the Medway. An unconfirmed source informed me that Broadland Falcon was sold for £16000 around 2006, and is now being use as a livaboard on the Thames or Medway. 

Although the history of BG may not be as long as many of the other boats on the Broads, I do think it is a unique piece of Broads history given the design and the links to Sir Christopher Cockerell. I have some photographs of BG and other Ripplecrafts, but will not post them as I do not hold the copyright to them. As I said, the information here is from a variety of sources, most of which can't be fully verified. I therefore am unable to accept full responsibility for the accuracy. Should any member have any other information, Ii will be most grateful. A visit to the Museum of the Broads left us somewhat bereft, when we were told they had not heard of Ripplecraft. I am now putting together some information for them to display. 

Braodland Grebe left the hire fleet in or around 1985, she had two previous custodians before us. I know nothing of her first owner, but know her previous owners. 

Amazing to come across this, so pleased to hear about the restoration. My grandparents probably sold you the boat. Which they owned 20 plus years. Many of us spent our youth and very many happy days aboard. Believe it or not it was once in beautiful condition, my grandparents treasured this boat, until old age hit them, with their whole family living 2 hours away. I’m actually currently looking for old photos of the boat for my gallery wall & came across this. You got yourself an amazing piece of history there :) Libbie

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