Our History

NHFT History

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 its Fleet as part of an economic 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 a bursary 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.

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