Hunter’s Yard lies at the heart of the Norfolk Broads and is the home of our Fleet of 14 traditional cabin yachts lovingly known as ‘Percy’s Lovely Ladies’. We also have 8 half deckers (day boats), which includes 3 Rebels (racing boats) part of only a few available on the Norfolk Broads for hire.
Our ‘Lovely Ladies’ were designed specifically to be sympathetic to these beautiful, unique waterways and are available for hire for short breaks to full weeks.
All our vintage cabin yachts and half deckers deliver a great sailing experience from our smaller 2 berth (Hustler Class), 3 berth (Wood Class) or our larger 4 berth (Lullaby Class) yachts. Some yachts in our Fleet are now equipped with an electric engine. Hunter’s Yard have pioneered the introduction of electric pod type engines to the fleet to assist with mooring and when going through bridges. Some yachts in the fleet remain engineless so you would need to be an experienced skipper to take one out. Very good dinghy sailors do find our cabin yachts easy and a joy to handle. The self tacking jib is found to be a great help for our solo skippers who often take our Hustler class out.
Look back through the history of Hunter’s yard and everything that built it up to where it is today.
Hunter’s Yard is situated in its own dyke off Womack Water in Ludham. The two boat sheds are largely as they were built in the 1930s using timber in the traditional Broads style with the majority of original features intact and numerous pieces of equipment, tools and boat fittings on view.
Percy Hunter, with his two sons Cyril and Stanley, built the first shed in 1932 and by the following year they had designed, built and launched the first two cabin yachts of the Fleet. The Fleet grew each year and a second shed was built in 1935 before the outbreak of war to help house the 14 yachts in the winter months. The last 2 cabin yachts were completed after the war in the late 1940s.
The Hunter family operated the Yard until 1968 when it was sold to the Norfolk County Council and was renamed Norfolk County Sailing Base. The Council maintained the traditions of the Yard, however its main aim was to encourage young people to sail and experience the team spirit involved and discounts were offered to schools. In 1995 the Council decided to sell the Yard and it’s Fleet as part of an economy measure.
A substantial public outcry was generated, led by the staff at the Yard and the local Eastern Counties Newspapers. A group of influential people agreed to form a Trust with the specific aim of acquiring and maintaining the Fleet, the Yard and the high standards of traditional boat building that it represented. A huge fundraising effort was carried out, donations flooded in from across the world and over £100,000 was received from concerned people. The final boost was provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund with a magnificent grant of £200,000.
On 1st April 1996 the Norfolk Heritage Fleet Trust took over the Yard and re-established its original name, Hunter’s Yard. It continues to uphold the skills and traditions of the Yard and to encourage youth sailing through an endowment fund, which provides resources to subsidise youth groups sailing on the Fleet.
Despite being a fully operational hire boat yard, with work carried out all the year round on wooden craft, it retains much of the atmosphere of the 1930s and visitors return time and again to step back into the peaceful era that existed before today’s pressures. The history of Hunters is very much part of the yard and its fleet. The traditions of quality workmanship and excellent customer care remain as strong today as ever and we are proud to say that we still have people sailing our boats who have been sailing with us since the 1930s.
To find out more about the Hunter’s history, read the Hunter’s Fleet Book written by Richard Johnstone-Bryden or pop into the Yard for a cuppa, a chat and a walk around.
Norfolk Heritage Fleet Trust continues to uphold the skills and traditions of the Yard and work is carried out all the year round on all the wooden craft under the trusts care. We always have several projects that require funding to restore or preserve the yachts and to maintain the original Yard and buildings. Here are some of our past, present and ongoing projects.
A longer-term project is to take each yacht in turn and give her a thorough refit which goes beyond the repair and varnishing each boat gets every winter. As you can imagine, the upkeep of a heritage fleet can be very expensive and can only be achieved to the very high standard the fleet deserves, by the kindness and generosity of people like you. We say a big thank you to everyone who has helped us thus far, to those who continue to help us and thank you in advance if you feel you will too.
A stock of quant poles, spare spars, gaffs, booms, and masts for each class are always needed. They are made from high quality wood which is getting increasingly difficult to acquire and always very costly.
Electric engines are still to be fitted to five more of the yachts; the costs of which are very high. If you are interested in donating to the yard to enable us to complete this on-going project to Electrify the fleet, then please do get in touch
Younger families with children really benefit from the convenience of motorised propulsion and Hunters Yard have successfully developed an installation that does not affect the boats’ sailing characteristics or destroy their historical allure.
As you can imagine, the upkeep of a heritage fleet can be very expensive and can only be achieved to the very high standard the fleet deserves, by the kindness and generosity of people like you. We say a big thank you to everyone who has helped us thus far, to those who continue to help us and thank you in advance if you feel you will too.