When The Land of the Broads was published in the 1890s, Norfolk was a remote and rural county. The rivers were still mainly trading routes, with over 800 wherries bringing goods and fuel inland from the seaports of Yarmouth and Lowestoft to the broadland villages and to Norwich, returning with agricultural and other produce. There were approximately 300 miles of navigable waterways, with canals extending as far as Aylsham, North Walsham and Bungay.
The holiday business was in its infancy, with many commercial vessels being pressed into service for the summer trade. With no television or radio, entertainment was provided by a piano, or visits to the many waterside pubs. The locals were seen as a race apart and a glossary was provided for their dialect. Powered boats were rare.
Although much has changed in 130 years, Ernest Suffling would recognise many of the villages, buildings and river scenes which he described. The same fish still swim in the waters and people still come to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Broads.