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80 Norfolk farmers take a tour of rural estate and steam museum at Strumpshaw

PUBLISHED: 12:28 19 July 2018 | UPDATED: 13:04 19 July 2018

80 members of Stalham Farmers' Club visited the Strumpsham Hall estate. Picture: Christopher Deane

80 members of Stalham Farmers' Club visited the Strumpsham Hall estate. Picture: Christopher Deane

Christopher Deane

An 80-strong party from a north Norfolk farmers’ club enjoyed a memorable summer evening at the Strumpshaw Hall Museum and a tour of the surrounding Broadland farming estate and bird reserve.

80 members of Stalham Farmers' Club visited the Strumpsham Hall estate. Picture: Christopher Deane80 members of Stalham Farmers' Club visited the Strumpsham Hall estate. Picture: Christopher Deane

Stalham Farmers’ Club’s chairman Henry Alston organised the joint visit with the East Norfolk branch of the National Farmers’ Union, by invitation of the Strumpshaw Hall estate and hosts Kiki and Kurt Angelrath.

The estate’s contract farming operation, run by Mr Alston since 2007, includes cereals, potatoes, peas and parsnips. Irrigation, direct from the River Yare, has been essential especially for potatoes grown for McCain and for parsnips, which will be harvested by the end of October.

Mr Alston explained that sugar beet was no longer grown despite proximity to the Cantley beet sugar factory, partly because of historic headaches with weed beet.

Then, the party went on a walking tour of the RSPB’s Strumpshaw reserve with Tim Strudwick. The reserve, which has been much expanded over the years and now extends to some 800ha (2,000 acres) was established in 1975 with the support of the late Jimmy Key, of the Strumphaw estate, and Martin George. The estate still leases some 300 acres to the RSPB.

80 members of Stalham Farmers' Club visited the Strumpsham Hall estate. Picture: Christopher Deane80 members of Stalham Farmers' Club visited the Strumpsham Hall estate. Picture: Christopher Deane

Mr Strudwick explained that removing scrub and encroaching trees from the marshes was a major initial challenge. But now one of the biggest threats to the reserve’s vulnerable eco-system is posed by more frequent incidences of salt-water flooding – with fish kill and loss of nesting habitat for birds.

It now attracts 27,000 visitors a year and is home to some 4,000 wildlife species including plants and birds.

On the return to the Strumpshaw Steam Museum, many members rode the diesel locomotive, Jimmy, around the park. The collection of steaming traction engines, plus early tractors and other machinery was a further draw.

Retiring NFU group secretary David Faulkner was among those who enjoyed the thrill of the fairground and a ride on The Ark. One of only five in the world and built in 1934, this fairground ride can achieve speeds of more than 30mph.

• Strumpshaw’s Autumn Steam Rally takes place on the weekend of September 1 and 2 (9am to 5pm). For more details, see strumpshawsteammuseum.co.uk.

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