The day a judge took a court case to Norwich’s Eaton Park
Derek James tells the story of the judge and the model yachts
It was the day this legendary Norfolk judge swapped his wig and gown for his coat and hat and headed off to the Eaton Park in Norwich…taking solicitors and witnesses with him.
To discover if the Ripple did indeed live up to its name and cause a ripple on the boating lake.
We used the photograph that we took in January of 1954 on the cover of our Through the Decades supplement the other week in our feature on the life and times of the boating lake which has played a big part of so many lives.
But how often has a little yacht been launched on the orders of a judge surrounded by court officials to see how it performed?
His Honour David Carey Rees James Evans was a legendary figure in the city and across the county for 25 years before retiring in the early 1970s.
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Known as Judge Carey Evans he was the judge on the Norfolk County Courts circuit and also served as a Commissioner of Assize, and deputy Chairman of Norfolk Quarter Sessions.
When he walked into court he commanded respect and he certainly received it. He was a stickler for the law and woe betide those who overstepped the mark in his court.
As for those model boats…
A dispute had arose in the summer of 1953 about the behaviour of some model yachts called Ripple at East Coast resorts.
It resulted in a case at Norwich County Court sitting at the Shirehall when Arthur Salinson, trading as Toby Wholesale Supplies, a toy seller in Pottergate, Norwich, was suing L J Wright & Partners of Bacton for £91.11s for breach of contract.
Mr Salinson had asked Mr Wright, a former marine engineer and boat builder, to make some model yachts at a competitive price.
But Mr Wright claimed when he told him he wasn’t keen on making smaller models without a rudder, Mr Salinson said he didn’t mind just so long as they floated and had a finish like “grandmother’s sideboard.”
The trouble was there were several complaints about the yachts and it ended up in court. Parents were cross while boys and girls were rather sad at the poor performance of the yachts when launched.
Judge Carey Evans listened as Mr Wright said he thought the performance of yachts wasn’t bad considering the price. He produced them for 6s 6d (about 33p) each and they had sold in the shops for twice the price.
He had guaranteed that all the 16-inch models would sail and had warned Mr Salinson that others would move about in the water but have “no sense of direction.”
The only way, said the Judge, was to adjourned the sitting of the court at the Shirehall and re-convene at the boating lake so they could see for themselves how the Ripple fared
Judge Carey Evans was not impressed.
He said that not one of the models tried, of those returned to Mr Salinson as unsatisfactory, made any progress worthy of such a name.
They did not sink or fall on their sides but they did not sail.
His Honour said he thought it was quite probable that a good many customers were well satisfied, his impression being that the models were constructed admirably, although it seemed some of them did not have the proper balance.
Judge Carey Evans said he thought a sufficient number were returned as faulty to justify Mr Salinson sending 117 of them to Mr Wright and he gave judgement for £90 with costs.