3 July 2020: All talks this year by Margaret Bird postponed

All Margaret Bird’s talks in 2020 are postponed owing to Covid-19.

Margaret is the author of the four volumes Mary Hardy and her World published by Burnham Press in April this year. She was booked to give six talks to various societies and institutions between May and November. None can now take place this year owing to the demands of social distancing and restrictions on gatherings held indoors during the pandemic.

This website will have details of the public events when a firm date has been arranged. We hope this will be some time in 2021, if it is safe to hold meetings then.

Riverside public houses in the 18th century

As described in the previous news item, most of these talks are open to the public. Occasionally they are given to private gatherings.

Months ago the Norfolk Wherry Trust invited Margaret Bird, a member since 1982, to give a presentation at their laying-up supper in November. Margaret had chosen the title “Riverside pubs on the Broads in the 18th century” for this annual celebration of the end of the wherrying season.

Working the waterways involved great hardship. Skipper and mate on keels and wherries (the mates often being women and young boys) were exposed to the elements in their open cockpits. Night-sailing was required when tide or wind were right. Slippery decks in rain, frost and even a heavy dew added to their problems. A safe mooring and a warm, well-lit public house proved much-valued refuges.

Midnight moonlight on the water

The River Yare at midnight on a windy, moonlit night. As long as trees do not overshadow the waterway it is usually possible to navigate using natural light

They were not much of a refuge for the hard-pressed innkeeper. Turnover was frequent, and insolvency a constant threat. The King’s Head at Hoveton, then and now a well-known inn north-east of Norwich, provided a long inviting staithe for watermen. But it endured five changes of publican between 1776 and 1778.

Our only source for this information is the wife of the brewer whose tied house it was. William Hardy lived a short way upstream at Coltishall, his wife busily entering all the innkeeping problems here and elsewhere in her diary.


Read more articles

Margaret Bird

Margaret Bird in 2016

The editor and author of the Mary Hardy volumes

You can read about the historian Margaret Bird on the link above

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