Tuesday, 26 July 2011

For Sale: a smugglers’ haunt


THE COCKATRICE, yours for half a million quid. A five-bedroomed former pub situated, as estate agents Durrants put it, “in a superb riverside location on the River Yare [with] wonderful views over marshland and the river.” The blurb is very good on the hectares of land outside and the bedroom measurements inside, but they’re missing the big picture. Because this building, wind-whippingly isolated on the road from Heckingham to Reedham Ferry, was notorious as a smugglers’ pub. Market it that way chaps, and see your viewings double. Durrants reckons it stopped being a pub in 1922. My understanding is that it hung on till 1931. Certainly when the Broads writer Arthur Patterson passed by in 1930 there was:

“one wherry at its staithe, where a score or more were at one time keen to moor when thirsty. The day hath long passed when smugglers crept to and landed at the staithe at night and “Breydon Pirate” is all but extinct.”

There’s much more where that came from in my Wherryman’s Way book. Perhaps the estate agents would like a copy?

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