Pleasure Wherry Hathor: history
The Pleasure Wherry Hathor (pronounced Heart-or) was built by Daniel Hall of Reedham for Ethel and Helen Colman, daughters of Jeremiah J Colman of mustard fame. Her Egyptian theme and name serve as a memorial to their brother, Alan, who died in 1897 on a trip to Egypt that, it had been hoped, would cure his tuberculosis. You can read more, and see photos from the Boardman archive, here. From the Colmans, Hathor passed to Claud Hamilton, author of Hamilton's Guides to the Broads, and then to the Martham Boatbuilding and Development Company where she was used as a houseboat. It was from here that she was acquired, in a somewhat dilapidated state, by Wherry Yacht Charter in 1985, after which she underwent a 2-year restoration so that she could be offered for charter once again.
Along with her sister vessels Hathor was transferred to Wherry Yacht Charter Charitable Trust in 2004. Work on the wherry yachts was more urgent, and Hathor sailed until her Farewell Tour in 2009, before being laid up to await restoration. She was finally hauled out in early 2014. Her hull has now been fully restored and she is afloat again, but everything above the water, and especially her exquisite interior, needs attention before she can take passengers again. The work is ongoing, but very promising initial results show that her marquetry work is able to be brought back to its full-colour glory. Her relaunch celebrations are planned for May 2015.
Hathor's origins as the private boat of a well-off family are clear from the quality of her accommodation. There are two double fore-cabins and two spacious port-side double cabins (for the Misses Colman) as well as the saloon which, as with all our wherries, converts to two double berths. Internal accommodation is completed with a toilet, a main galley and a butler's pantry. Unlike the wherry yachts, the passenger area above decks is at the bow with no direct access from the saloon, and while it is less spacious than the yachts' counter sterns and wells it features two benches with carved hawk's-head ends.
Hathor feels lighter and more airy below decks than the wherry yachts thanks to lighter woodwork, larger windows and more headroom. The surface woodwork, primarily sycamore, features inlaid lotus flowers of teak and dyed sycamore in the saloon, while animals and other symbols adorn the doors. The marquetry takes its inspiration from Egyptian artifacts in the British Museum and was designed by Edward Boardman, brother-in-law to Ethel and Helen Colman and architect of How Hill House overlooking the River Ant. A unique Arts and Crafts oil lamp featuring serpents' heads hangs from the saloon ceiling (above), and while new gas and battery lamps were fitted when she was prepared for charter, they took their design from one of the hieroglyphic symbols.
Pleasure Wherry Hathor has no motor and requires more work to sail than the Wherry Yachts, yet she remains the older and more elegant flagship of the fleet.
The historic information on this page is based in part on Richard Johnstone-Bryden's ebook Norfolk Wherries. To find out more about Richard's work please see his website.