Alan Maffett: Pioneer of boating holidays on the Norfolk Broads

A pioneer of safer, cleaner and more environmentally friendly boating holidays on the Broads, Alan Maffett has died peacefully at home aged 91.

He was one of first to adopt the use of glass fibre hulls for the fleet of holiday craft after starting his boat hire business, Maffett Cruisers, at Chedgrave in 1961.

He took a lead in encouraging boat hirers to promote safety by improving craft and providing detailed technical advice, which was adopted by boat builders and owners, after a spate of accidents in the early 1960s.

He also built a speedometer for boats, which helped to reduce the speed of craft on the water.

Mr Maffett sold the business, which continues today, after retiring as chairman of the Broads Owners' Association in September 1976. Earlier he had toured the United States with James Hoseason to look at cruiser design, which later resulted in the introduction of aircraft-style 'chemical' toilets into hire fleets.

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At Mr Maffett's retirement, Mr Hoseason praised his contribution to improving safety and said that he had 'brought new and inspired perspective to the industry'.

Born into an Army family in India in 1919 and the youngest of three, he was brought home aged three months and then spent his formative years in the Thames Valley, near Henley and Maidenhead.

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He joined the Royal Artillery from school and became a gunner. He was sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force and, after destroying his field guns to prevent them being captured by the enemy, he was evacuated from Dunkirk in May 1940.

His two older brothers, who had transferred to the RAF, were killed during the war. Mr Maffett saw the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight pay tribute to 'one of the few' last September, his middle brother, Gerald, who was shot down in a Hurricane off Walton-on-the-Naze 70 years earlier.

Mr Maffett remained in the Royal Artillery, retiring as Lieutenant Colonel in 1961. His last post was chief proving officer at the Woolwich Arsenal, testing small arms.

He started the hire fleet business and also became involved in local affairs.

He was chairman of the former Loddon Rural District Council and a long-serving churchwarden.

Always fascinated by technology and electronic gadgets, he installed solar water heating panels several decades ago on his house. After his first wife, Annette, died in 1993, he married again.

He leaves a son, two daughters and seven grandchildren. He is survived by Ruth, who lives in the United States, and her family.

A funeral will be held at St Peter's Church, Carleton St Peter, on Friday, January 28, at 2pm.

Michael Pollitt

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