Broads Tours offer river trips and day boat hire on the Norfolk Broads, offering everyone the chance to relax on Britain’s magical waterland.
Choose a Broads Tours river trip, sit back and do it in style with entertaining live commentary, light refreshments and licensed bar. Or pack a picnic, hire one of our day boats and enjoy the freedom of doing your own thing. Either way, we are sure it will leave you wanting to do it all over again!
Our River Trips
We run a daily timetable of river trips from 1st April until the end of October. During the summer months we also host Evening Music Cruises. Winter is not forgotten at Broads Tours either, during December we run ever popular Santa Cruises.
For the independent explorer we operate a fleet of day boats and day cruisers. Our standard day boats are available by the hour up to a full day. Our day
cruisers are available for a full days hire only. For the larger party we have our eco-friendly electric propelled day launches.
Committed to reducing our environmental impact on The Broads
A History of Broads Tours
Broads Tours was established in 1935 by Charles Hannaford who had moved to Norfolk for its drier climate following ill health. Originally called Norfolk Broads Tours Company, it comprised of passenger boats acquired from William Littleboy and George Smith and Sons.
During 1936 Hannaford looked at making a limited company and including the fleets purchased from Littleboy and Smith and Sons, the company was to be known as Broads Tours and Services (Wroxham) Ltd. The new company’s first major decision was to commission Jack Powles to build a boat costing £1,100. Finance for this impressive project was found by selling 1000 shares at £1 each to a Mr Low who was made a company Director and became a regular visitor to Wroxham. The boat, made of mahogany with a length of 56ft, was named the Marina, sister ship to the Marchioness.
In late 1939 with World War 2 ongoing there was a military order for all boats to be disabled so that they could not be used by the invading forces. After the war the boats were put back into commission but Broads Tours and Services decided to consolidate the fleet so the smaller boats were sold off.
In 1940 the company had the option to buy the Princess Pat for £350. This was considered good business as it ended the Broads Tours passenger boat competition at the time and the Princess Pat was purchased.
The 1950s were a boom time with the ease of transport and people having more money to spend on leisure time, people were flocking to the Broads for days out. As holiday camps started to spring up in coastal resorts more and more people were attracted to the area.
Broads Tours total carrying capacity on passenger boats was now up to 780 people a day with the ticket price staying the same all the way through the year. During the 1970s and 80s the short hire season increased from an average of seventeen or eighteen weeks a year in the 1950s to an average of twenty-four to twenty-five weeks.
The 1950s , 60s and 70s saw the start of special excursion trains with it not being unusual for there to be two to three hundred passengers on these specials. In 1959 the first of two wooden boats were built by Broads Tours, the Princess Anne and Princess Alexandra, both licensed to carry 78 passengers at a length of 52ft.
It was during the late 60s that the company changed its name to merely Broads Tours.
In 1973 the first glass-fibre hull was delivered from Bourne Plastics. The boat was named the Princess Royal and launched in 1973 but was found to be far from ideal as being lighter than the traditional wooden hulls the wind would make her difficult to control. Three years later Broads Tours decided to build another passenger boat. With the hull of the Princess Royal not being a great success, it was decided to go with a ferrocement hull made by Windboat Marine in Wroxham.
Moving into the mid-1980s the Broads Tours yard was purchased by Len Funnel who commissioned one of our current river trip cruisers, The Cordon Rouge. The Cordon Rouge would be a steel boat built in Wakefield and fitted out in Wroxham. This was very different from the early passenger trip boats and would be Broads Tours first double-decker passenger cruiser. Since then she has become a local landmark of the Northern Broads. Operating in and out of our Wroxham based boatyard, she is one of our more traditional passenger boats.
Built and launched in 1988 was the Vintage Broadsman. This passenger boat has become a firm favourite with holiday makers taking a river trip, or local people hiring her for their special celebration alike.
2002 saw the launch of the refurbished Queen of the Broads, originally a single-decker craft that was extended in length and having a top deck added.
In 2003 Len Funnel sold the company to the Greasley family, Paul, Barbara and their two children Laura and James.
From 2003-2019 the Greasley family carried on the fantastic work that Charles Hannaford started all of those years ago. During this time the Greasley family built a new double-decker passenger boat and six luxury day cruisers.
In 2004 Broads the Belle of the Broads was built in our boatshed – here in Wroxham. Her steel hull was welded upside down on the hard standing in the shed. When finished it was turned the right way up in our slings, a real breath-holding moment! This successfully done, the top deck of the boat was then built out of aluminium. After both parts were joined together our team of boat builders and marine engineers fitted out the interior of the boat and installed the three engines needed for propulsion and the generation of electricity. She was finally launched in August 2004 just in time for the busiest part of the season.
Paul and Barbara Greasley looked after the company for 16 years.
In 2019 Broads Tours returned into the ownership of Len Funell.
Mr Funnell said: “I’ve missed Broads Tours, as Hazel [my wife] and I always loved providing all kinds of experiences on the water, from river trips and educational cruises to days out and holidays afloat.
“Paul and Barbara have done a fabulous job of taking the business forward into the 21st century, and we’re thrilled to be involved again with this amazing business, its staff and customers.”
Mr Funnell is joined in the venture by his daughter and son-in-law, Ruth and James Knight, who have run Waveney River Centre at Burgh St Peter for the past 17 years.
Today Broads Tours operates four double-decker passenger boats, a fleet of forty standard diesel day boats, two large electric day boats and seven day cruisers. Helping visitors enjoy this wonderful and unique area of outstanding natural beauty known as The Broads National Park.
Broads Tours Testimonials
Take a look at some of the things our customers have had to say about us
Brilliant boat which was clean and well-equipped. The tour commentary was excellent and highly informative.
Graham N - Trip Advisor - 13th April 2019
A great couple of hours on a lovely boat on The Broads. Learn lots about the Broads and properties and vessels along the way. a chance to spot the sort of wildlife you hardly see. Comfortable boats and helpful and friendly staff.
Frinton G - Trip Advisor - 24th June 2019
Really enjoyable trip, very informative on way out and then allowed time on way back to really take everything in. Beautiful scenery and really an idyllic place to visit.
Phyl B- Trip Advisor- 17th August 2019
We hired a boat from Broads boat hire. It was our first time sailing a boat and the staff couldn’t have been more helpful and friendly.!
Lisa - Trip Advisor - 29th April 2019
Wonderful tour of the beautiful Norfolk Broads. Super boat with good facilities for any weather. Brilliant tour guide gave us entertaining and informed info on the local area, history, wild life and environmental issues.
Horley D- Trip Advisor- 11th 2018 November
Fabulous day boating on the Broads! This place really is in a league of its own- beautiful, serene and utterly majestic.
Georgina - Trip Advisor- 29th July 2019
A beautiful river trip with great disco music, bar on board and friendly staff. As locals its great to see so many people enjoying our beautiful Broads!
Lynne B - Trip Advisor - 5th August 2019
Would you like a longer break on The Norfolk Broads?
Visit our sister company Norfolk Broads Direct for luxury Boating Holidays and Waterside Cottages on the Broads.