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These days Hoveton and Wroxham are indistinguishable from one another - rippling out from the banks of the River Bure in all directions. Technically, though, Hoveton occupies the north side of the river and Wroxham the south.  However, the waters are muddied by the fact that Roys of Wroxham is actually located in Hoveton.

Hoveton and Wroxham Station

Hoveton and Wroxham Station

Alan Hunter, the detective writer and poet, was born in Hoveton in 1922 and grew up in the village. He was educated at Wroxham school and, before serving in the Royal Air Force during WW2, worked on his father's poultry farm. In 1944 he published a collection of poetry called Norwich Poems which contains: Saturday at Wroxham - a delightful picture of boating holidays at the time. It captures the hustle and bustle of tourists arriving by train from London and their scramble to get provisions before heading off down stream to Horning. The collection also contains a nice portrait of war-time Norwich - full of period charm - called Evening in Norwich.

After the war Hunter entered the book trade in Norwich - first as a manager of antiquarian books for Charles Cubitt and then running his own shop in the Maddermarket. He published his first Gently novel Gently Does It in 1955. He then proceeded to write another 45 episodes all featuring his pipe-smoking inspector. Many of the locations in the novels were inspired by Norfolk, particularly the Broads, which provided the back-drop for Gently Down Stream, Gently Floating and Gently French. Norwich was also fictionalised as Norchester in many of the novels.

George Gently's stoic and methodical character may have owed something to Georges Simenon's Inspector Maigret.

The BBC have adapted many of the 'Gently' stories for television - with Martin Shaw taking the lead role. Unfortunately, however, the location has been changed from East Anglia to County Durham. The series is set in the 1960s and requires many period props.

Hunter retired to the riverside village of Brundall with his wife Adelaide - a place where he continued to pursue his interest in sailing and wildlife. He lived all of his life in the county and died in 2005.

Another detective writer from Hoveton is the retired pilot Chris Crowther who has written four whodunits - all set on the Broads: Still Waters, Water Under the Bridge, The Water Frolic and Waterproof. The novels feature the sleuthing skills of navigation ranger Jack Fellows who stumbles across mysteries while patrolling the waterways.


More photographs of Hoveton











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