A renowned author, historian, and journalist who brought to life East Anglia’s rich heritage has died aged 90. 

From adventurers and pirates, traders and tragedies, dreams and danger, Robert Malster, known affectionately as Bob, tackled a number of topics within his writing. 

Known for his diligence and all-round thoroughness, his talents will live on in his work

Eastern Daily Press: Robert MalsterRobert Malster (Image: Submitted)

Born in Norwich in 1932, he became a Freeman of the city following on from his father.  

Mr Malster served his National Service in the Royal Air Force and began his career as a journalist at the Lowestoft Journal.  

He became deeply interested in the fishing history of the town and of East Anglia, to the extent of making a sea journey in the 1950s on a herring drifter.  

It was a mark of his future writing that he would want to fully understand what he was writing about. 

His career in journalism would give him a thorough grounding in the need for the quality of language and depth of the story.  

Eastern Daily Press: Historic photos of one of the old wherries on the Broads.Historic photos of one of the old wherries on the Broads. (Image: Archant Library)

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Alongside his interest in “the fishing” – as it is referred to locally – he developed a special interest in the lifeboat service and collected stories from around the coast, talking to those who had manned the "pulling and sailing" lifeboats.  

This resulted in the publication of a book entitled Saved from the Sea.  

The Wreck and Rescue series would become another outlet for his considerable knowledge about the RNLI in the eastern counties. 

Eastern Daily Press: Great Yarmouth herring season Scottish drifter heads for herring ground Dated: 25th October 1961Great Yarmouth herring season Scottish drifter heads for herring ground Dated: 25th October 1961

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He married Brenda and therefore married into a Lowestoft fishing family. 

They had two children, Paul and Andrea.

Journalism took him from a specialism in features for the Eastern Daily Press before moving on to the East Anglian Daily Times.

His research into East Anglian history has resulted in a multitude of publications carrying his name.  

Eastern Daily Press: Historic Britain: Suffolk From The Air by Robert MalsterHistoric Britain: Suffolk From The Air by Robert Malster (Image: Robert Malster)

He wrote the comprehensive title Wherries and Waterways about the Broads and rivers of Norfolk and Suffolk, researched and wrote a range of specialist Ipswich titles, illustrated collections of photographs from the past, and edited publications such as The Minute Books of the Suffolk Humane Society.  

For a while, he served as general editor for Terence Dalton Ltd, where one of his biggest achievements was to bring to press Tree to Sea, the unique drawings by Lowestoft’s Ted Frost. 

Eastern Daily Press: The Yarmouth drifter Wydale (YH105), reputed to be the last local boat to fish for herring.The Yarmouth drifter Wydale (YH105), reputed to be the last local boat to fish for herring. (Image: Archant)

Frost had built wooden drifters at Chamber’s yard in the years after the First World War and his drawings are now in a national collection. Mr Malster recognised the need to bring them to a wider public. 

He also went on to establish his own publishing enterprise and then in later years contributed four titles for Poppyland Publishing, three giving a comprehensive account of the maritime histories of Norfolk and Suffolk, and one a detailed account of East Anglia’s sea story of the First World War.

A further title on the industrial history of East Anglia was completed and it is hoped it will one day reach the bookshelves. 

Eastern Daily Press: Ipswich by Robert MalsterIpswich by Robert Malster (Image: Robert Malster)

Mr Malster was well-known to local historians throughout the region, was a regular researcher at the Suffolk Record Office, and was a comprehensive collector of East Anglian literature, documents and images.  

He was also a volunteer at the Ipswich Transport Museum.  

His writing career spanned from letterpress to computer and internet technology, from plate glass negatives to digital photography, and he pursued this passion through to his final illness. 

Mr Malster died at Ipswich Hospital on Sunday, April 16. He was aged 90. He is survived by his daughter, Andrea. 

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