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Mrs Brown did all the boat laundry in her home, as did the other directors’ wives in their homes. They also sewed all the boat curtains and covers. At the end of the season, the four directors; wives shared out the blankets, seven hundred; all had to be washed, dried and aired. Mrs Brown only stopped the blanket wash this year. “I missed it” she said. In the early days, the yard had no telephone on site. The Brown’s daughter earned her pocket money by cycling from their home in the village down to the yard – 3d per trip. There was no water on the site, and all boats had to be supplied with drinking water, so a water lorry with a large tank transported water from the Browns’ home to fill the boats every Friday evening. There were no petrol pumps at the yard, so fuel was taken in cans. Broads visitors who preferred to stay ashore and day-sail were catered for at the Browns’ home, in Conyard Villa. They paid seven pounds a week, which included two cooked meals as well as a packed lunch daily. Fresh fruit and vegetables were supplied from nearby farms and smallholding. Fishing parties were also well catered for, as their catalogue illustrates. During the season, Mrs Brown with her two helpers, provided full board for an average of twenty guests each week. Coarse fishing extended the season. Then the war came and all these activities stopped. In fact, when war broke out, the last boat to be built still had to be paid for, and there were no hirings to bring in the money. All cash flow stopped. By careful budgeting, and frugal living, the debts were gradually settled, and the wood for the boat and its engine were paid for. During the year of the Second World War, Jimmy Brown went to work at Woods’ and Neaves’ yard. After the war, development of the yard continued apace. The building of reception room, ballroom and chalets progressed. Greenhouses and a smallholding helped to provide fresh vegetables to sell in the shop and customers in passing boats. Then the directors wanted to buy a redundant aircraft hanger so that the work on the boats could be done in sheltered conditions, but they could not afford the price. However, during the war years, unbeknown to her husband, Mrs Brown had been buying National Savings Certificates. The sum of one hundred and five pounds had accrued. Mrs Brown produced the savings and the hangar was bought. The directors worked all night erecting it. “What did your husband say when you produced the savings?” I asked. “Nothing”, she replied, with a happy smile. “You know what men are, but I saw his chin tremble”. So full production after the war resulted in twenty woman boat cleaners and thirty boat maintenance staff being employed. The greenhouses, smallholding and flower beds along the river frontage always caught my eye when I sailed pass that stretch of the river. I was always curious that somebody had the time and love of the place to grow such beautiful roses in beds by the riverside. It had taken me thirty years to learn the answer (and I confess to going ashore one lovely night to pick a rose for my dinghy.) As I made supper and erected my boat tent, the rose smelt sweetly as I curled up in my sleeping bag content after just another day in Wanderbug. At the yard the days of boat hire of the 50s to the 70s were creative and active. Often Mr Brown would go home after a long day at the yard, and say to his wife, “Do you feel like sleeping afloat tonight?” or he would return home at the start of the season saying “We’ve launched a boat today, do you want to sleep in her?”

Profile for Ian Curtis

Japonica 5  

Boat Manual

Japonica 5  

Boat Manual

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