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Plea to help save Broads treasures

PUBLISHED: 09:54 21 May 2008 | UPDATED: 11:05 03 July 2010

A MUSEUM showcasing life on Norfolk's iconic waterways is launching a £125,000 appeal to secure its future.

The Museum of the Broads moored at its current home in Stalham eight years ago, having started down the river at Potter Heigham.

A MUSEUM showcasing life on Norfolk's iconic waterways is launching a £125,000 appeal to secure its future.

The Museum of the Broads moored at its current home in Stalham eight years ago, having started down the river at Potter Heigham.

It is housed in range of waterside buildings that used to store cargo from wherries docking at the staithe when the Broads and the interlinking rivers were a major transport link and workaday employer.

Now the sheds are home to displays which provide a snapshot of the area's history, traditional trades, boats, tourism and characters for 8,000 visitors a year from holidaymakers to school groups.

After two failed Lottery bids, the charity which runs the volunteer-manned museum is now poised to buy them and is making its first ever public appeal to help fund the venture.

Chairman Pamela Masters said they had previously leased the buildings, but “as our collections grow and people get to know where to find us, we really need to the stability of a permanent home.”

The appeal will be officially launched on June 13, but is already flagged up on the attraction's website, and already drawing in early donations.

“We have had considerable interest and some encouraging donations, along with support from our Friends group and patron Henry Cator,” she added.

Twice in the past four years the museum suffered the setbacks of having Heritage Lottery grant bids refused. The first for £1m aimed at improving the attraction with a special display area for its prize exhibit 1827 racing yacht. The second last year, was a scaled down £250,000 scheme including new quay headings.

“We were downhearted after that but decided to grasp the situation and do it another way,” said Mrs Masters.

Now trustees are in the process of buying the centre through a mortgage but see the appeal as a way of paying it off.

Mrs Masters added: “Being actually based on the Broads is vital to us. It makes the museum as accessible to boaters as it is to land-based locals and tourists.

“It also means historic boats such as wherries can moor up for a stay and visitors can take a river trip on our Victorian steam launch Falcon. All this helps bring visitors closer to the real experience of the Broads.”

The museum idea was hatched by a group of enthusiasts in 1992 and developed into a fledgling attraction at Potter Heigham for four years before moving to Stalham Staithe in 2000.

The trust is looking for a range of backers from small donations to major corporate sponsors. At the top end, people are being sought to give £5,000-plus to support each of the main buildings covering boatbuilding, marshmen, wherries and a discovery centre.

“No donation is too small but we are hoping that some people will want to dig a little deeper for this one-off appeal,” added Mrs Masters.

The Museum of the Broads is open daily 10.30am-5pm until the end of October. For more information about the attraction and appeal contact 01692 581681 or visit www.museumofthebroads.org


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