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Intriguing Mid 1970s Photo


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It's an advertisement for "Boat Enquiries", a company that if I remember correctly only ever listed two or three boats on the Broads. One was and ex-Broom Captain that was turned round at Oulton YS and the other two were small grp aft cockpits.

No pictures I'm afraid as I don't have that year's brochure any more.

The picture has a cathedral in the background which looks like Auxerre in France. There were definitely cruisers on hire in that area and I have seen very similar, if not the same boats, to that one on French waterways - although I don't remember Boat Enquiries listing any French hire fleets.

The only thing that throws me a little is the date: 1976 which I thought was a little early for French hire companies other than the British owned/run ones which tended to use ex-Broads built boats in those days. Perhaps Vaughan can enlighten me on that.

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You beat me to it. That Cathedral looks very French, Cahors is close to the river but I can't remember what it looks like. I know one side is very plain Norman Tower like.

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1 hour ago, webntweb said:

The only thing that throws me a little is the date: 1976 which I thought was a little early for French hire companies other than the British owned/run ones which tended to use ex-Broads built boats in those days. Perhaps Vaughan can enlighten me on that.

The first company to start boat hiring in France was Blue Line, with all their boats built for them by Wilds, although I didn't know they had any of this design.  The Beaver Fleet started in the early 80s with a mixture of boats from Norfolk, mostly having been on hire on the Broads first.  The first French builder and hirer was Locaboat, which was just starting when I was first there in 1983.  Connoisseur came a bit later, in the mid to late 80s (I think).

Blue Line used to have a base in the Loire region, to the south of Auxerre, so the photo could be of that cathedral.

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13 hours ago, Broads01 said:

I'm intrigued by the boat in the second photo of this ebay "Broads Book" listing. It looks to be something like a Bermuda with increased saloon headroom and dual steering. I recall something similar on the Thames at one time at Bridge Boats, Reading. Was it an FB Wilds creation?

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/353354829600

Hi Simon.  Have a look at this:

http://fbwilds.horning.org.uk/thamesbermuda.html

They whole website is dedicated to FB Wilds and their cruisers.

http://fbwilds.horning.org.uk/page6.html

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31 minutes ago, Mouldy said:

Hi Simon.  Have a look at this:

http://fbwilds.horning.org.uk/thamesbermuda.html

They whole website is dedicated to FB Wilds and their cruisers.

http://fbwilds.horning.org.uk/page6.html

The Wilds page explains it. They were building that type of boat in the 70s and they mention suitability for European waterways, which explains why one of the 34ft dual steers is pictured in front of Auxerre cathedral in 1976 in the original post.

It also shows the two 34ft (higher saloon) versions, with and without, dual steer that were available to hire on the Thames.

I thought I remembered one on hire in Ireland and the website page confirms that.

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Delving into the website a little further, I found this:

 

0E0F8A9C-34F6-40D9-BBAF-12A4270D3EBA.jpeg
They’ve earned their money in hire fleets over the years and still fetching around 30k for the standard versions when they come to the market now.

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From Blakes 1985 brochure. Loire Tahiti, now part of Blue Line (presumably a base takeover). Also this photo doesn't show the prominent front door seen in the 1979 photo (was that a stock photo? or class variation?). Now looks much closer to the photo on e.bay. The base also suggests the right region for Auxerre Cathedral as suggested by webntweb.

IMG_0810.thumb.JPG.6a32f5635126269fb20a7e9beb355acf.JPG

 

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Thanks for all the replies and information. As I said, I recall the Thames version but it was the appearance in the "Broads Book" which intrigued me. How curious it seems the photo wasn't taken on the Broads at all.

The link posted by Old Berkshire Boy led me to this one. It seems the design made a very brief appearance at Richardsons. I bet Ludham Bridge was a tight squeeze.

http://www.broads.org.uk/wiki2018/index.php?title=Boat_Details&BoatId=8667&BoatHistory=113

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3 hours ago, Broads01 said:

The link posted by Old Berkshire Boy led me to this one. It seems the design made a very brief appearance at Richardsons. I bet Ludham Bridge was a tight squeeze.

http://www.broads.org.uk/wiki2018/index.php?title=Boat_Details&BoatId=8667&BoatHistory=113

This shows the boat going to the Richardsons Thames fleets and it does appear there in the 1992 brochure as Benson Empress. Why it didn't come back to the Broads when they closed the Thames yards, maybe Clive knows.

1 hour ago, catcouk said:

This is an interesting design - I like it. But why wouldn't they keep the forward well? That his the wife's favourite place!

I think it was a design before its time. Now dual steer boats are almost the norm on the Broads, but then it was considered a boat should be able to get through Potter, Wroxham etc...

The Connoisseur FB range does look like an evolution of this design, but it was only offered in France. As the larger ones were 13ft wide they have never found their way back to the Broads, but the smaller 11 ft wide boats have with Richardsons (e.g. Astral Gem), Silverline (Silver Haze) and Barnes (Brinks Jazz), and they have a forward well!

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Hoseasons 1991 - Advertised for hire on the Broads. The photo is clearly Bermuda Bay on the Thames, but that boat was always at Bridge Boats which (as far as I am aware) was never part of Richardsons - so I assume it was just using a stock photo. So where did this boat come from? Was it ever actually on hire on the Broads, or was it found to be too high for Ludham Bridge and shipped straight to the Thames when Richardsons (Rank) bought Maidline. Brochures advertising boats are printed many months before an actual season, so may not reflect what was actually available.

IMG_0812.thumb.JPG.1674cd4f53b7e1f8be40568e99288924.JPG

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If I were gambling man Sovereign Gem probably came from France, over the years Richardson s have a splurge of buying second hand stock from various locations. I remember a number of Blue Line boats appearing on the far bank at the yard in the early 90s including Bermuda s A/F 35, Calypso s etc which subsequently ended up on the fleet. Sovereign Gem was definitely registered on the Broads as W479 and appears with a Richardson s flag in the Broads database for 1991. Not sure why it moved to the Thames however Ludham Bridge may have been an issue and bridges apart from Osney in Oxford are less of an problem.

Just as an aside Richardson s left Rank ownership cc 1984 being reacquired by the family, although Maidline may have been acquired from Rank, Bushnell of Maidenhead being the original Rank owned Thames operation run in conjunction with Richardsons in the 70s and 80s

Neil

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