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Photo gallery: Meet the Norwich City mascot who pedalled the Broads

PUBLISHED: 08:15 19 January 2015 | UPDATED: 13:02 19 January 2015

Restoration of Bert 'Nobby' Clarke's water bicycle - The Nutty Slack - at the Museum of the Broads in Stalham which received a grant from the association of Independent Museums to bring back to life the bike of the well known Broadland character and Norwich City football fan. 

Photo by Mark Bullimore

Restoration of Bert 'Nobby' Clarke's water bicycle - The Nutty Slack - at the Museum of the Broads in Stalham which received a grant from the association of Independent Museums to bring back to life the bike of the well known Broadland character and Norwich City football fan. Photo by Mark Bullimore

Archant Norfolk

In its golden days, it was a wonder of the Broads and its owner one of the region’s true characters.

Restoration of Bert 'Nobby' Clarke's water bicycle - The Nutty Slack - at the Museum of the Broads in Stalham which received a grant from the association of Independent Museums to bring back to life the bike of the well known Broadland character and Norwich City football fan. Pictured is Bernie Clark 

Photo by Mark BullimoreRestoration of Bert 'Nobby' Clarke's water bicycle - The Nutty Slack - at the Museum of the Broads in Stalham which received a grant from the association of Independent Museums to bring back to life the bike of the well known Broadland character and Norwich City football fan. Pictured is Bernie Clark Photo by Mark Bullimore

With its bespoke design and Canary colours, it was hard to miss this bizarre water bike – named Nutty Slack – as it wended its way along the waterways.

And now, after years of gathering dust in a storeroom, this remarkable craft is undergoing a major restoration project, allowing its fascinating history to finally be told.

The Museum of the Broads, based at Stalham, has been given the unusual item by Norfolk County Council – as well as some cash to conserve it.

Yet it isn’t just the eccentric bicycle which museum staff are excited to share – but the character who brought it to life.

Photo by Mark Bullimore  Restoration of Bert 'Nobby' Clarke's water bicycle - The Nutty Slack - at the Museum of the Broads in Stalham which received a grant from the association of Independent Museums to bring back to life the bike of the well known Broadland character and Norwich City football fan. Pictured is Nicola Hems curator of the museum.   Photo by Mark BullimorePhoto by Mark Bullimore Restoration of Bert 'Nobby' Clarke's water bicycle - The Nutty Slack - at the Museum of the Broads in Stalham which received a grant from the association of Independent Museums to bring back to life the bike of the well known Broadland character and Norwich City football fan. Pictured is Nicola Hems curator of the museum. Photo by Mark Bullimore

Bert “Nobby” Clarke was a Thorpe ferryman who bought part of the contraption in Wroxham in 1947 and made it his own, to create a vessel which, for years, was the talk of the waterways.

It was entirely pedal powered, with bicycle parts turning two rear-mounted paddle wheels. A steering wheel was fitted onto two floats.

Nicola Hems, 51, curator at the museum, said the bicycle was an exciting item to add to the collection: “We don’t have anything like it in the museum.

“It tells its own story of a man who painted and used the water bike – and it saw a lot of action in its time.

Nobby Clarke pictures for Rosa McMahon storyNobby Clarke pictures for Rosa McMahon story

“Now it’s a great opportunity to get it out and tell its story.”

A keen football fan – hence the vessel’s striking colours – Nobby took supporters on the ferry to Carrow Road and would often be seen parading his beloved water bicycle at river events.

And even at the age of 68, he was still living up to his reputation as an expert diver, recovering things from the riverbed – including bodies for Norfolk police.

An expert from Norfolk Museum Service is showing volunteers how to conserve the bicycle.

Nobby Clarke pictures for Rosa McMahon storyNobby Clarke pictures for Rosa McMahon story

And volunteers Bernie Clarke, 72, a former engineer, of Teresa Road, Stalham, and Sally Kirwan, 60, a teacher of Brumstead Road, Stalham, have been working carefully on its repair. It will never make it on to the water again because it is full of holes, but Mrs Hems hopes it will give visitors to the museum an insight into life on the Broads in the past.

The Museum of the Broads is always looking for new volunteers. If you want to get involved email info@museumofthebroads.org.uk or call 01692 581681.

Do you have a Broads story? Email rosa.mcmahon@archant.co.uk

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