Norfolk Broads Cruiser - Monarch
(Keel Laid 1938)

The photographs and text below were kindly submitted by Monarch's owner Nigel Thompson

21st September 2008

At 43ft Monarch is believed to be the largest Banham in existence. Built in 1938 by Banhams of Horning & Cambridge a firm who enjoyed an enviable reputation for building quality boats, which has proved to be true, three Monarch class boats were built, Broads Authority records show this Monarch ( B612 ) to be Monarch II the whereabouts of I & III are unknown. There was also a boat built on the same lines called Freedom. During the 1980’s she was moored three abreast at Oulton Broad, the centre boat caught fire and the fire spread rapidly to Freedom and the other boat. Although her hull survived she was declared a write off. She was towed back to Horning and cut up. Although I understand her engine is still in service in Herberts Woods work boat. These details confirmed by Reg Reeve foreman at Herbert Woods, and one time worker at C H Banham, Horning.

Click the picture below for an enlarged view

Although looked after by her past and present owners regardless of cost her present condition owes a lot to the quality of workmanship and materials used in her construction.

The hull is carvel construction Burmese teak on oak frames, several different woods have been used on the topsides including teak, iroko and mahogany. The interior is mainly mahogany and oak.

Monarch - in May 2004

Monarch was originally built for the hire market and her original internal design was a lot different from today, she had eight berths and even a hip bath.

Built in Horning we believe the keel was laid down in 1938 but building was stopped the following year when World War II started. Building was completed when the war finished. She was hired out first by Banhams her builders from their boat yard in Horning. The boat yard has long since been demolished and there now stands a row of 1960’s houses on the site. Banhams were bought out by Percival’s who continued to hire out the combined fleet of boats from their yard just along the river from Banham’s and now called Southgate’s and the home of the Norfolk Yachting Co and the famous wherry yacht “White Moth”. In 1978 “Monarch II” was sold by the then Southgate’s yard to P H Martins of St Olaves and continued as a hire boat under the name “Montana Moon”. She was then sold into private hands in the mid eighties.

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Purchased in the 1980’s her then owners found her hull and decks to be in such good condition they decided to totally redesign the interior. The front cabin with two single berths was converted into the galley, giving an enormous space for cooking. The large saloon has a convertible banquette which sleeps two in comfort on the starboard side, with the port side boasting a large sideboard with ample cupboard space. This replaced two dinettes one each side which each sat four people at meal times and converted into small double berths at night. Two single berths behind the wheel house remain from the original design The aft cabin originally had single berths each side and a rear door leading to an aft well, this was covered in leaving only a pair of aft windows, internally the port side bunk was removed and replaced by a dressing table, and the starboard side bunk enlarged to a small double. This now makes Monarch a spacious five / six berth motor cruiser.

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The original engine was a Morris Commodore 20hp petrol engine. Monarch is now powered by a BMC Commander 2.2 litre 47hp diesel engine, which was fitted in 1969. The power is delivered to the single prop via a Borg Warner gear box. The engine still has its own high cranking battery. To improve charging performance two 45amp alternators were fitted and supply power to the batteries via a state of the art splitter. The condition of the three battery banks can also be viewed on a gauge at the helm.

Click for an enlarged view

Many improvements have been made to her over the years, but recent improvements include, two new low consumption Coolmatic fridge’s which the owners recommend drawing only 4amps each and work as well as any fridge at home, a new Webesto hot air and hot water system using a diesel boiler, new electric toilets and holding tanks with empty to full gauges situated on the wheel house instrument panel , and 6 new Trojan 130amp hr batteries, four now supply the heating and lighting systems while two are devoted purely to the fridges.

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To comply with Broads safety standards all electrical wiring, gas piping and fuel lines have been checked, and all items labeled.

Old aluminum windows in the wheel house installed in the 1980’s have been replaced with something more in keeping with her age, a toe rail was fitted for extra safety around the outside deck, and all exterior fittings are undergoing a staged program of re chroming. As are the internal fittings.

All exterior woodwork was taken back to the wood and re varnished in April 2003.

Although it is obvious that Monarch has given much pleasure to hundreds of people over the years she has only had six owners since 1938.

August 2008 update. Monarch has just come out of a four week refit at Herbert Woods of Potter Heigham. A complete out of the water survey proved her to be in sound condition.

Click the pictures below for an enlarged view

Monarch had been running quite sluggishly and the engine had been running quite hot throughout the 2007 season, when she was lifted clear of the water a good four inch thick layer of fresh water mussels all over her underside and keel cooler pipes proved to be the reason. Two coats of anti-foul, five coats on the hull, and several coats of fresh varnish on the cabin sides and wheelhouse and she is now back in the water and looking good. This year we decided to change the colour of the hull from white to cream, and we all agree it suits her age.
Then disaster struck on the morning of Tuesday 12th August I received news that at approximately 11am that morning a strong wind had ripped its way through Ranworth Broad and on through to Horning, Monarch and a 50ft tree were right in its path. You guessed it, the tree ended up falling on Monarch. Now the Angels must have been watching because it fell right across the pulpit which took all the force and acted as a shock absorber. The only real damage was a very bent and sorry looking pulpit. Repairs are well underway and we are counting our blessings. It could have been a lot worse.

Monarch's owners are always seeking to research her history and would be happy to hear from anyone with stories to tell or with information regarding her past or any other Banham craft, indeed any related subject.

They would also be interested to know what became of her Sisters 'Monarch I & III'.
Craig Slawson's database 'Boats of the Norfolk Broads' shows that 'Monarch I' registration no. B31 became 'Tistar' and 'Monarch III' had the reg no. A398 but no evidence of a later name. They were last seen in the late seventies or early eighties. Were they perhaps sold and moved to another part of the country or did they go to that boat yard in the sky. Craig's database also shows that 'Freedom' (reg no. B36) was later called 'Phoenix' and then 'Rhiannan' or 'Rhiannon', Although unsubstantiated. Any further information or updates, sightings etc would be most appreciated.

Monarch's owners can be contacted anytime
on Mobile 07868 - 654409 or at home on 01372 - 729333

(Note:- Craig Slawson's database is an invaluable source of information, currently indexing more than 17,500 boats from 30 years of observations. If you have any pictures or additional information about any of the boats in his database, please let him know.)

| The history of Shaft of Light and Star Supreme 1, former Norfolk Broads hire cruisers |
| Other wooden Norfolk Broads boats from the 1950s |
| 1960s Broads boats - page 1 and page 2 |
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