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Broads by canoe

The Norfolk Broads – a magical place to visit

Author David Cleveland has written a new book, A Look Back At The Broads, a history of the Broads from 1834 to 2018. Here he tells us why it is such a magical place.

The Norfolk Broads is an area of rivers, marshes, farmland, villages and wide open stretches of water known as Broads in East and South Norfolk.

Broadland, as it is sometimes called, is a unique place, and is much visited by holidaymakers exploring the rivers and Broads by hire boat, driving though picturesque countryside, travelling the railway lines that give unusual views of waterways and marshland, or walking the footpaths and lanes of rural tranquillity.

Views of the Broads...

Here peaceful days can be spent taking in the rich wildlife, beautiful scenery, and sampling restaurants, pubs, small villages and local life.

But it has not always been like this. Once the waterways were for commercial transport, birds were shot for food and for sale, and the rivers were almost emptied of fish for financial gain. The locals hardly ever left their village, and reed and sedge cutting, eel catching, and labouring on the land were occupations for many.

Occasionally a visitor would pass by, or adventurous yachtsmen sailed the little known rivers and Broads for pleasure.

Norfolk Broads

In mid-Victorian time much changed. The railways arrived altering people’s lives and trade, the large sail cargo-carrying wherries began to decline, and Broadland was discovered.

Articles and books appeared describing the waterways, bringing parties from far away as well as young men and women from Norwich and other towns in East Anglia. Enterprising craftsmen and businessmen built and hired out boats and yachts, and photography spread images of Broadland to a wider public.

In the 20th century the Broads expanded, boat yards and boat hirers sprang up all over the place, cars began to take the place of trains for travelling, motor boats outnumbered sailing boats, and tourists expected their floating home to have all mod-cons. Broadland became a holiday playground.

A Look Back at the Broads

Eventually the area had to be managed and the Broads Authority came into being to tackle the problems that came with expansion, growth in population, water quality, and modern farming methods.

A Look Back at The Broads is a new book which chronicles some of these changes over the last 200 years, coming up to the present day, with accounts from those who were there at the time.

A Look Back at The Broads, A4 size hardback with 440 black & white and 293 colour illustrations, is available from The City Bookshop, Davey Place, Norwich, priced £35 or direct from including postage (UK only).

Woodbastwick Woodfordes' brewery tap, Woodbastwick
Roys of Wroxham Roys, the world's largest village store
Heydon village Heydon - the village in a cul-de-sac
Museum of the Broads, Stalham Museum of the Broads, Stalham
Reepham Charming market town Reepham
Potter Heigham Mind your head at Potter Heigham bridge
Reedham Rail bridge and chain ferry at Reedham
Horning Waterside pubs and restaurants at Horning

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