Black Beauty

wherry-3I’ve been spending a lot of time recently viewing various old clips of life on the Norfolk Broads. My noseying into these broadcast and personal films isn’t uncharacteristic, as you’ll probably have summed up by now; each choppy, flickering and often silent clip is gripping in atmosphere and thought-provoking in narrative, a total joy when you’re a Broads boy like I am. Explorations did lead me to the above drawing, subsequent Photoshop adjustment, and the prominent subject.

You won’t have to go through many historic snippets to catch sight of a classic Norfolk wherry, for these were just as prolific as the windpumps they sailed past on every cut. The tough jet black sail waving some sixty feet into the sky, busier routes would be teeming with these boats, and indeed it wasn’t uncommon to be circled by several, each transporting vast amounts of goods with far greater storage space and maneuverability than other, earlier options. Dating as far back as the seventeenth century, trading vessels were produced in the county right through to the early 1900s, by which time they had generally fallen out of favour for the quickness that rail distribution offered. On this lull, and noting the potential of the area, they were revamped for recreational means, adopting the name ‘pleasure wherry’, with some swapping the black sail for a white one to give greater distinction. Nowadays there are only six surviving wherries on the Broads, the oldest being two trading wherries, Albion and Maud, who are both approaching two-hundred-and-twenty-years; along with a couple of her pleasure wherry peers, Albion is in fine fettle for her age, still available for charter.

Learning those stats, it’s less of a surprise that I’ve rarely seen them save for some fortunate glances in the distance, and it’s mostly been restricted to old photographs and that Norfolk episode of Interceptor. I hope to see some more, for they are quite the hypnotic sight!

I had to throw in a windmill, too – of course I did. It’s the law.

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17 comments
  1. Excellent drawing ( loving the sepia vibe) and lovely little vid! ( Isn’t it interesting the way people’s voices/pronunciation sounds different from era to era. Like straight away, if you were just closing your eyes and listening to that guy speaking, you’d know if was from a fairly long time ago. Not sure why i mention it; just fascinates me for some reason! ). I’d never heard of a “wherry” before. What cool li’l boats! Loving the big black sail, (which kinda puts me in mind of a junk, even though they’re obviously very different vessels)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks ever so much! The sepia was all Photoshop magic, really, transporting what was originally just a standard drawing. Good to have these tools at my disposal. 😉

      Yes, I’ve always thought that. And how, on almost every ‘proper’ video from this era, the narration is so standardised that you can barely tell one voice apart from another. That’s how it was, I suppose – you can’t be having regional accents on film! He certainly does a good job, though, great enunciation, and though to some perhaps a little snooty in register, to me it feels quite special/prestigious, in a way. I suppose such voices are now another layer of the nostalgia.

      They’re wonderful! I wish there were more of them left, they’re just so impressive.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No worries 🙂
        They’re awesome; i want one! Although for purely superficial reasons….i get seasick :S
        And yes, i like those old-timey voices.Even if they do all sound the same! Probably people 60 years from now ( if humans are still around) will say the same about narrators of our time. It’s interesting to wonder how enunciation and language will develop in the future.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jacob said:

        Oh no! Actually, while I don’t tend to get seasick, I am often a bit funny about boating. It’s probably because I can’t swim – I’m a lot more comfortable walking beside the water rather than being on it.

        Yes, that probably will happen. I love the idea of people looking at our innits, OMGs and LOLs and cooing in a manner that we do toward Shakespearean parlance, for instance. “Wow, ‘rack off, windhouse’… such romantic language they used back then (swoon).”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, yes, it makes sense that you’d be uncomfortable around water then. Especially on such a small vessel; it’d be difficult to feel stable and secure- even for those who do swim! I’d personally be afraid of being hit in the head/ knocked into the water by the boom!
        “Rack off, windhouse” Haha! yes, I HOPE that happens! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You got me then…I saw ‘black beauty’ thought I was going to scroll down to see a horse, I guess I am one track minded! Still what a surprise, and not a disappointment, in fact quite a delight, I love the vintage look of this, an interesting look. It made me thing this would be a great idea for dementia patients, adding a vintage effect to photos ( when old originals can’t be found of important /significant areas). Lovely to see a different look from you, multi talented 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Aw, sorry Rebecca! I don’t think I’ve done a horse before… not on here, at least – hmm! Maybe one day. I know where to go for inspiration! Glad you liked what actually was, though – thanks again for your wonderfully kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Splendid image, Jacob. The wherry really is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? Sturdy and practical with that oddly-shaped sail – like a little touch of vanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks, Michael! Yes, they really are – so big (for the Broads, at least!) and yet so graceful. Such an impressive sight.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It is certainly atmospheric and gorgeous! I’ve not heard of these boats before so thanks for the lesson. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks, Teresa! They really are something special, a nice emblem of the Broads. Especially glad to have taught you something today!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      What’d I ever do without Photoshop? 😉 Thanks so much, Charlie – glad the beauty came across!

      Like

  5. beautiful drawing Jacob, so evocative, it has bags of atmosphere, marvellous!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks so much, Phil – think I could do these landscapes forever, so therapeutic! Super chuffed you like this one!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Upriver | jaywalks

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