Newest Review: ... not timed our visit to coincide with a river trip day, so were unable to take advantage of this. Further information can be found on the ... more
Take A Peep Into The History of The Norfolk Broads
The Museum of the Broads (Stalham)
Member Name: brittle1906
The Museum of the Broads (Stalham)
Advantages: Very interesting museum, reasonable entry costs .
Disadvantages: Not a lot for children .
Review of The Museum of The Broads, Stalham, Norfolk
During our recent break in Norfolk, my partner and I visited this museum. We have had several boating holidays on the beautiful Norfolk Broads in years gone by so we did have a little knowledge of the area.
**About the Museum, Location and Prices**
Located on the breathtakingly gorgeous Stalham Staithe, The Museum of The Broads is a registered charity. The aim of the charity is to help locals and visitors alike to discover and bring alive the history of the Broads. They also conserve and restore objects from the Broads and rural Norfolk.
By road, the museum is easy to find, it is situated just off the A149 Norwich to Cromer road. For those arriving on public transport there are buses to Stalham from Norwich, Wroxham, Mundesley, North Walsham, Cromer and Great Yarmouth.
There is car parking provided for disabled badge holders, but everyone else will need to park outside of the museum grounds. This is no hardship as it is located on a quiet road with a reasonable amount of space for cars.
The museum is staffed by volunteers and is open to the public throughout the summer. It is open 10.30 - 17.00, seven days a week from just before Easter until the end of October.
The admission costs are:-
Children (up to 15 years) £3.50
Under 5s free.
Family £10.00 (2 adults +2 children)
Audio handsets available free of charge, these give a mix of anecdotes, poems and informative commentary for various points of interest around the Museum.
On certain days of the week, one can also take advantage of a river trip on the Victorian Steam Launch, 'Falcon', from the museum. This trip takes around 50 minutes and costs an additional £3.50 for adults, £2.50 for children.
Unfortunately we had not timed our visit to coincide with a river trip day, so were unable to take advantage of this.
Further information can be found on the museums website:-
**The Museum and the Exhibits**
To be honest, there was far too much in the museum, to mention everything here in this review, so I will just recount the items that particularly impressed me!
As you might expect given the location, the museum focusses on all things boat related. The museum is extremely interesting, with boats to see and learn about, crafts such as thatching, reed gathering, fishing for pleasure and for the eel trade and other rural occupations are all covered.
I was particularly interested in the boats as I am a bit of a boat nut, having lived on a narrowboat for some time and having travelled the inland waterway system of the United Kingdom pretty extensively.
A cut away of a traditional Norfolk Broads sailing barge was absolutely fascinating. It was kitted out exactly true to the way the boat would have originally been built. To think that a family would have lived in this tiny cabin day in, day out, as they plied their vessel around the Broads is amazing. In many ways, this was similar to a canal barge, but wider. The audio commentary of this told of the deaths of many children in boating families who drowned after falling overboard, a horrible thing to consider!
As many will know, the Norfolk Broads are a network of rivers that criss-cross East Anglia, inter-spaced and connected with 'Broads' or 'Staithes', basically large stretches of open water, some natural and some man-made, the after effects of the peat cutting industry. Boats and barges were vital for transporting goods and travel in this area before the advent of the road system as we now know it.
The Broads later developed into the tourist attraction for which they are now known. A wealth of industries has developed as a result of this, from boat builders, hire boats operators and sail makers. In the tourism exhibition, I was amused to see an old receipt for a holiday boat hired from Wroxham on the day I was born in 1958. The family of four hired a boat for a one week holiday at a cost of £55. Considering that the average weekly wage in those days was in the region of £7 or £8, it is obvious that boating holidays in the 1950's were definitely for the rich!
The museum houses a huge collection of boat building and sail makers tools, these were very well displayed as wall mounted features and kept Mr Brittle amused for ages! There is also a very comprehensive exhibition room dedicated to the involvement of the Broads and the people living beside them in the 2nd world war.
There is a lovely outside area where you can sit to enjoy the scenery of the river. While sitting there, we felt rather sorry for the occupants of a hire boat who had pulled into the Richardson's boatyard on the river bank opposite the museum, for fresh water. They were having a bit of a job to moor up and with museum customers sitting gawping at them, it was obvious that they felt like inmates in a zoo!
The museum has a tea room, we didn't use this ourselves, but were able to see it as the entrance is combined with the refreshment counter. Light snacks and beverages were on offer and everything looked very clean and appetising. There are also toilets for men, ladies and a unisex disabled cloakroom. I used the ladies and found it clean, tidy and well equipped with toilet tissue, soap and so on.
**My Thoughts and Conclusion**
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Museum of the Broads. I am, as mentioned, a bit of an 'anorak' when it comes to boats so this really was an ideal place for me! I guess for those who do not have more than a passing interest in boating and rural crafts, the museum may not appeal, but in my opinion it is well worth a visit if you are in this area of Norfolk.
It was lovely to see so many old boats having been restored to their former glory, instead of being left to rot on the river bank. The exhibitions of old time crafts and occupations was a delight too. I considered the museum to be extremely well laid out, the exhibits were imaginatively displayed and apart from a couple of boats where one needed to climb a few steps in order to peep inside, everything was easily accessible for disabled people.
The volunteer staff on duty the day we visited were knowledgeable, friendly and very professional.
My only criticisms of the museum would be that apart from a play boat, there was little to amuse young children. I also found the audio commentary rather irritating in parts, so didn't really use it. This was not a major problem as one can choose which bits to listen to by punching in the number found beside each exhibit into the key pad. If you choose not to listen, there is comprehensive information available to read for yourself, so you do not really miss out on too much by not using the audio commentary.
We spent a very happy couple of hours in the museum and I would love to go back again, preferably on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday in order to go on the Falcon!
I am awarding The Museum of The Broads a 5* rating, it is definitely worth a visit in my opinion.
Thank you for reading
İbrittle1906 (First published September 2011)
N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.
Summary: Well worth a visit if you are in the area.
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