A warm, friendly Heather welcome

We are delighted to share Heather, an historic boat, artistic refuge and home for over a century, laying on the ancient Broads Waterways of Norfolk.

It is our aim to preserve the distinctive character of Heather, enabling future generations to enjoy her charms. We welcome you to explore the houseboat and bountiful riverside beyond...

Andrew, Timothy and Christopher

13 November 2013

Where have all the flowers gone?

Heather was just one of a sizable fleet of craft hired from Turner's Boatyard in Horning. A number of boats bearing names of flowers survive from Turner's fleet. The botanical theme has a much deeper meaning, one rooted in grave days of war and linked to the George and Turner families, from Great Yarmouth and Horning respectively.

We are unsure of the reasoning behind the naming of Turner's fleet after flowers. Heather, symbolic of luck does appear to be a popular name for several local craft in the Edwardian era. Some houseboats are documented as being called Heather, however there is a more pivotal naval connection.

Nearly 300 small ships or corvettes were commissioned by the Royal Navy during world war two. Their primary purpose was to provide escorts to larger ships. Based on the shape of a whaling ship, it is believed they were christened 'corvettes' by Winston Churchill, borrowing the flower class identity from the navy's days of sail. Flower class corvettes (also Gladiolus class) became known affectionately as 'the shepherds of the sea' fulfilling a sterling front line service throughout the war. Heather is said to be named after the corvette HMS HEATHER, no K69, built in 1940 at the world famous Harland and Wolf Shipyard in Belfast.

Nicholas Montserrat wrote about his first hand experiences on board a corvette through the war in his immortal novel The Cruel Sea, published in 1951. A film made two years later captured the gritty and violent battles and more peaceful periods, making it one of the most definitive depictions of the conflict. When the war was over, many corvettes began new lives, some as yacht conversions. One sole surviving class member, HMCS Sackville is today open as a floating museum, now in Canada.

Next year is the centenary of the beginning of the Great War. Coincidentally, it is believed the original decked service boat, (converted ten years later into a pleasure houseboat), was built in the Netherlands sometime during world war one 1914 ~ 1918.

For further information about the Flower Class Corvettes, please see the website of the Association: www.fcca.demon.co.uk

Andrew, Chris

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King's Head Staithe, Hoveton, pictured from Wroxham public Parish Staithe