Over the past century Broom boats have continued to innovate and grow, offering a renowned high quality of British craftsmanship, prestigious aftercare and attention to detail. Our boats have been at the forefront of latest developments, such as the move from wooden manufacture to GRP, continuously listening to our customers to ensure we deliver the boat for their lifestyle. Since Charles J Broom set out to achieve greatness over 115 years ago many things have changed. Our focus on quality and innovation remain the same.
In 1898, Charles John Broom launched his business, acquiring the Brundall boatyard of the Norfolk Broads Yachting Company, where he had worked as a craftsman before rising to manage the yard.
Although the River Yare was then a thriving commercial waterway, change was on the way. The railways were taking away the freight transport but bringing new holiday makers keen to enjoy the tranquillity of the Norfolk Broads. Charles built “beautifully crafted sailing cruisers for gentlemen” to meet this new demand, as well as maintaining and mooring the boats for his wealthy clients.
In 1912, Broom was among the first to operate a hire fleet, offering boating holidays to a wider audience. For many, this was their first boating experience, so ‘attendants’ were employed to help sail the boat and do the chores. The yard was closed during the First World War. Sadly Charles died in 1915, but his business was re-opened, following the end of the war, by his sons Charles, Bernard and Basil.
Lightweight petrol engines suitable for marine use were becoming freely available in the 1920s, making craft more easily manoeuvrable by inexperienced sailors and increasing the holiday market. Broom was well placed to take advantage, being located next door to the railway which was the preferred method of arrival.
Initially motors were fitted to sailing craft, not always satisfactorily. Broom led the way in developing a standard model of 30 ft motor boat for sale or hire, powered by a Morris petrol engine.
The range expanded in the 1930s, with options of open or enclosed cockpits, aft cabins and single or twin engines. The Broom Standard 35ft Estuary Cruiser remained in production until the 1950s.
Also in the 1930s, Broom produced their first sea-going boats: motor-sailers with masts which could be lowered and stowed so they were also suitable for inland waterways.
1939 - 1945
The coming of the second world war brought an immediate end to the holiday business as fuel usage was severely restricted. However, the skills of Broom’s boat builders were in immediate demand for Admiralty contracts. This kept together the essential craft skills in a hard working yard producing harbour launches, whalers and other small craft.
Much of the Broom hire fleet was used for billeting defence forces or, with mounted machine guns, for river patrols. They escaped the fate of others which were used as permanent floating obstructions to prevent seaplanes landing on the Broads.
So Broom was well placed for peacetime, with a productive yard, a skilled workforce and a fleet of well-maintained cruisers needing minimal refurbishment to welcome back holiday makers.
Broom had been one of the first to set up a hire fleet of craft for upmarket holidays on the Norfolk Broads, using the services of Harry Blake’s booking agency in London. In 1912 sailing craft usually came with attendants who sailed the boat and did the cooking.
Motor boats were easier for the novice to handle, but attendants were still on offer when the business really came into its own after the second world war. However, a boating holiday was simple: a gas cooker, ice box and paraffin stove for heating would be standard equipment.
By 1946 Broom was building a new range for sale as well as hire. Spacious cruisers named Captain, Commander and the largest – at 42ft – the Admiral set the standard for the next 20 years.
Cleaning, maintaining and turning round 60 boats between hirings became almost a military operation. Broom developed the service skills and resources which now support many boats in private ownership.
1950 - 1960
In the late 1950s, boat builders were beginning to investigate new plastic materials which had been developed during World War II. However, wood was popular and proven through centuries as the material for smaller boats. Wooden boats were built to last if well cared for and some, now more than fifty years old, are still to be seen on our waterways.
Tertia Y691, a Broom Captain was launched in 1959 and is still seen today looking in excellent condition.
White Heron a Broom Commander, another 50 year old boat returned to Broom in 2011 to be offered for sale by our brokerage service.
Katinka a 6-berth 43ft cruiser, launched in 1961, remained in the same family moored at Brundall and cared for by Broom until 2015 when she was bought by TV Chef, Jamie Oliver, who enjoys Norfolk Broads holidays on board this beautiful cruiser.
Broom was involved in the Boat Show from its inauguration. The popular small tender, seen here at the first show at Olympia in 1954, was given to Martin Broom for his work on the stand.
Martin was later to be a leading figure in the British Marine Industries Federation and became Chairman of the National Boat Shows in 1989. He was awarded the MBE for services to the marine industry.
In 1958 Martin Broom became the third generation of the family to join the Company. He was soon faced with one of the key decisions in the development of Broom.
The fundamentals of boat building had not changed for generations. Hulls were built from timber which had been cut, steamed and shaped at Brundall. The craftsman shaping a wooden framework by eye with an adze was a familiar sight.
As Martin joined, Glass Reinforced Plastic was being promoted as an ideal material for boat building, being strong, lightweight and waterproof. Recognising the opportunity, he and four other businessmen set up Aquafibre in 1965 to make mouldings for the boat-building industry. Aquafibre became fully part of Broom in 1971.
Initially GRP hulls were used with traditional wooden superstructures, but by 1971 fully GRP boats were the norm. Typical was the Broom 30 which remained in production for 15 years from1965, with some 250 boats built.
As the fame of Broom continued to spread, the business expanded in size and capability to meet this growing demand. The Brundall boatyard became too small to support the growing activity.
Part of the grounds of The Yare public house were acquired in 1966 and new moorings were dredged out on this land. To the west, more land and river frontage was bought from Tidecraft Cruisers in 1970, followed by the Moonraker factory in 1990.
This expansion provided the opportunity to keep as much as possible of the boat building process under direct control to ensure quality and timely delivery. With GRP moulding, joinery, engine workshops, stainless steel fabrication and upholstery all on the same site, Broom was able to oversee every aspect of production.
With the range of skills on site, the Brundall Yard became a focus of craft and engineering skills, supporting a thriving service business and used by owners of boats of all types as well as other boat builders and operators.
All the resources of Broom were needed in the 1970s to keep up with demand, particularly for export markets which made up more than 50% of production. Demand was particularly strong in Holland and Germany.
1978 - 1991
In 1989, Broom owner Martin Broom became the chairman of the National Boat Shows and the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Act was implemented in parliament, meaning that the water at the Brundall site was governed by the Broads Authority. To this day, Broom have worked with the Broads Authority to maintain the quality of the wetlands, installing a new electric charging station at their site.
In 1991, Martin Broom was awarded an MBE for his services to the marine industry. Martin continued to steer Broom to excellence with a succession of new Broom and Ocean style cruisers.
1991 - 2009
Developing the design of the Broom 37 Continental in 1968, and the Broom 44 in 1991, Broom refined their aft cabin cruiser line over the next few years. The aft cabin, which gives Broom’s the capability to handle open sea and river navigation, also provides a generous sized, luxurious saloon giving large, uninterrupted living space.
Recognising the prestige and longevity of the brand, the Broom Owners Club was formed in 2004. A group of Broom enthusiasts who have an array of classic and new Broom models and are proud to be associated with the quality delivered by Broom.
2010 - today
With new direction in a growing industry, new investment in 2010 saw Broom relaunch the business in to what you see today. Redesigned by Graham Warren, the 455 and 370 models were launched with contemporary interiors and this style continues to inform the interior design of the new models.
Now in its 5th year, the Broom Boat Show sees Broom opening its doors to the public offering boat trips and factory tours, Broom is proud of its heritage and has embraced this opportunity to show their traditional manufacturing process alongside the exquisite finished product.
Broom have growing presence at a number of national and international boat shows with the Southampton, London and 2013 and 2014 Dusseldorf boat shows.
Broom 30 and 35 Coupe launched in 2012 offering Broom luxury for inland and estuary cruising (estuary cruising just applies to 35 Coupe). With a growing number of Broom registered dealers, Broom are sailing through this decade with the same passion for craftsmanship and determination for success that Charles Broom showed in 1898.