Watch: Museum of the Broads gives fascinating insight into the history of the iconic area

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Curator Nicola Hems. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Curator Nicola Hems. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

For more than 1,000 years man has played a role in shaping the landscape of the Broads.

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

The area is today a renowned Norfolk tourist attraction drawing thousands of visitors each year, but at one stage was the centre of a major peat digging industry.

The first written evidence of this dates back to the 12th century when much of east Norfolk had been cleared of its woodland for fuel and building materials.

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

For the next 200 years peat digging was conducted, however, the diggings eventually began to fill with water and were abandoned by the 14th century.

The flooded, partly man-made landscape became a wetland, rich in fauna and flora.

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017


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The history of the area, the wildlife and its people is told at the Museum of the Broads, the only facility of its kind completely dedicated to the area.

Located in Stalham Staithe, the museum was started in 1996 to ensure an impressive collection of historical items related to the Broads was properly conserved.

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

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The museum will open its doors to visitors at no charge on September 9 and 10 as part of the Heritage Open Days initiative.

Curator Nicola Hems said the aim of the museum was to bring the history of the Broads alive.

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

'If you want to find out more then this is the best place to come as we are dedicated to the Broads.

'It is a fascinating area. A quarter of the UK's rarest species of animals and plants are found in the Broads.'

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

The museum is divided into four buildings each with its own theme.

They include the:

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

• Barton Room, which delves into the history of wherries;

• Surlingham Room, which looks at the work undertaken by marshmen amongst other displays;

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

• Wroxham Room, which includes a timeline of the history of the Broads and the origins of the holiday industry; and

• Oulton Boat Shed, which houses some iconic yachts and an airborne lifeboat.

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

There is also an outside area filled with other interesting Broadland boats.

One of the museum's star attractions is Maria, the fastest racing yacht in the 1800s. She was built from 1825 to 1827 at Brown's boatyard in Great Yarmouth and is a lateener, having a twin masted design known as a lateen rig.

Bookings are not necessary and the museum will open from 10am to 4.30pm on both days.

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