Saturday, 28 February 2009

Breydon Water: Where's Whimbrel?

UNTIL the last decades of the 19th century, the banks of Breydon Water were adorned with a ramshackle collection of houseboats.
They were home to a tough breed of men who managed to make a living from shooting birds and catching fish. Author Arthur Patterson immortalised these so-called "Breydoners" in several of his books including Wildfowlers and Poachers.
Anyway, when I last walked the length of Breydon Water back in August 2007 there was still one reminder of that era - a blue-green houseboat called Whimbrel.
At least she looked as if she was from that era; a battered old shed, somehow shoe-horned into a leaky hull and kept off the flats with a precarious combination of masonry and timber. Flimsy no doubt, but given the history I would have made her a listed building.
So it was sad to retread my steps today on this final stretch of the Wherryman's Way (just under ten miles from Reedham to Yarmouth on a warm February afternoon) to find she has completely disappeared. I think I found the very spot and I think it was arson that did for her. If so, what a sad end to the last tangible relic from a long-gone era.

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