I first came across this little booklet years ago, I do not remember where, but it certainly was not in my family from new. I was browsing in it recently, convinced that it would be full of names which meant nothing to me. Not only do I not mix in yachting circles, it goes back a long way to before I was born. Nevertheless I was surprised to recognise two names from its page of which I have some recollection. One was Lady Mayhew; I believe she was a young Guide Captain (then called Beryl Colman) when my Aunty Olive was a Girl Guide. Sailing and the Broads were her great love. She was influential in the campaign to save the wherry Albion for posterity. In 1947 the Mayhew family lived in Felthorpe Hall. I saw (rather than met) her back in the sixties or seventies, when I’m sure she was living in Framingham Earl.

The other name I recognized, and a person I knew rather better, was John Mills. He is not so well known as Lady Mayhew but he achieved at least as much in the preservation of Norfolk’s maritime past. He was a Notary Public with the Solicitors Daynes Chittock and Back. The firm became Daynes Keefe and then part of Evershed’s before leaving the city for good over 10 years ago. In John Mills’s time they were based in Opie Street. When I was playing the double bass in the Dennis Orchestra his daughter Debbie Gregory played the violin. John Mills’s great achievement was the setting up of Norfolk’s first Maritime Museum in Great Yarmouth (long before Time and Tide, Yarmouth’s current nautical museum was opened). This was in a building on the front, subsequently occupied by the Tourist Information. This was done under the auspices of the Norfolk Museums Service, but it was based on the collection of artefacts he had built up. He also started the Norfolk Nautical Research Society of which I was a member until it closed in the 1980s. It published a magazine from 1959 or 1960 (the first issue is undated) until 1975, initially as The Norfolk Sailor, from 1970 incorporated into The East Coast Mariner. The magazines have a prominent place on my bookshelves. John Mills was a tall and thin man who had never learnt to drive, walking with long strides across the city from his home in Heigham Grove. He kept a keel boat on the Broads in which he took me sailing several times. He was a friend of my father, which is how I came to be involved.


Returning to the 1947 booklet, there are other things of interest to be found in its pages. There are many names which I recognize from the local past; was the Vice-Commodore G. Stambroook Sturgess any relation of the engineer Sturgess whose firm built the railings round St Margaret’s church, St Benedicts in the nineteenth century? The Mr Olorenshaw (“Johnnie Olo”) who was my father’s teacher at Carrow School was the grandfather of the Olorenshaw of the Norwich Motor Company (in Recorder Road) who supplied the family’s Hillman Husky. Was the yacht club’s committee member F. H. Olorenshaw a relative too?  These are not common names, so I dare say he was. The Diamond Jubilee Gold Challenge Cup has its winners listed back to 1897. In 1946 it was won by Stanley Bushell and James Clabburn in the yacht Purple Emperor. I had never heard of James Clabburn until researching this article, but as recently as 1990 he won it again in his eighties, becoming the oldest winner of the trophy. He was congratulated on that latter occasion by Lady Mayhew. The Diamond Jubilee is by no means the oldest Cup to be mentioned. That record is held by the Club Challenge Cup which was purchased in 1888 and won in that year by the yacht Ada from Breydon. We are looking back into serious history when –for example- City Station had just been built in Norwich.

JOSEPH MASON                                                                         

The blog for memories of EAST ANGLIA                                 



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