River Cruise on Board M.C. Belle, September 9th, & 10th, 1937

The last entry, and no doubt the last day of my dad and his friend Sammy’s cruise up the River Cam.


It was quarter to nine before either of us woke this morning and after lighting the primus we soon had breakfast ready. We went into St Ives and bought some food. We returned as it was spotting with rain and the rain came on faster as we put up the awning for the first time. We were surprised at the size of the awning which fitted over the complete stem of the boat.

The rain continued to fall heavily until about 4 o’clock in the afternoon during which time we listened to the wireless, played cards and had a sing song.

When the rain had cleared up we wrapped up as it was cold and went prepared to meet Mr Nunn off the train but were disappointed to find that there were no more trains from Cambridge that night. We spent the rest of the time walking all round St Ives and after paying a visit to ‘The Robin Hood’ where Don had a friend, we bunked at about 11:30p.m.


Today looked more like a summer day early this morning and although there was a slight breeze blowing, the sun was out.

We squared everything on board and cast off from St Ives at 10:15. From that moment until we reached the Pike and Eel at Over, we had very little water to move in. We had to test the water all the way with a boat hook.

Eventually we reached Overstaunch and we went through the pen with the Explorer. We moored below the lock at 11 o’clock. We went to see Bill Ellis and as Mrs Ellis had promised, she had made us one of her special Queen’s Puddings which we devoured with great relish, also tucking a few sausages in the odd corners.

We proceeded to Hermitage Lock at 1:30p.m. and arrived at 2:15p.m. On the way we saw Mr Pleasants and Mr Webster and after stopping for a chat we forged ahead.

We arrived at the the Fish and Duck at 4:0p.m. having a fairly slow journey. The barges were all up the river containing gault for the banks. The river was not wide enough for us to give full throttle because the water crashed against the banks and swamped them.

A gentleman from the ‘Madame’ came aboard to look over the boat that he would have taken had we not nipped in and ordered before him. He was fed up with the 2 stroke engine in his boat which would not keep running.


This is the last entry in Sammy’s diary. I’m guessing this was the last day of their holiday. Sammy made a slip of the pen in these last two entries and dated them as 9.11.37 and 10.11.37! He made very very few errors of punctuation and no spelling mistakes at all!

Mr Pleasants who they met up with was a family friend; Ted Pleasants lived with his wife and sister at 22, Harvey Goodwin Avenue in Cambridge and many years later, in 1965 Donald and his wife Monica bought the house from him. Gault is a type of clay which was used to maintain the river banks in the fens; the gault Sammy and Snick saw may have come from the Roswell Pits near Ely.


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