Obituary: Chris Nunn, creator and curator of Sutton Windmill Broads Museum of bygones

Chris Nunn outside Sutton mill. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Chris Nunn outside Sutton mill. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY - Credit: Archant © 2006

Chris Nunn valued and kept the thousands of everyday items from our past which most chuck away as out-of-date and useless.

Chris Nunn among the museum's tobacco display. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Chris Nunn among the museum's tobacco display. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY - Credit: Archant © 2004

Mr Nunn, who has died aged 76, shared his enormous collection of bygones with the public in a unique museum which is also a part of the county's working past.

For 30 years, from 1976, countless thousands of schoolchildren and adults trekked to his remote Sutton Windmill Broads Museum, near Stalham, to learn, admire and reminisce over objects ranging from an old-fashioned apple parer and bed pans to mole traps and steam engines.

Treasures also included the fixtures and contents of a Victorian pharmacy, a huge collection of tobacco-related paraphernalia - including full cartons of cigarettes - TVs and gramophones.

Mr Nunn, a former atomic research engineer who had also built hotels in cities including Bristol, bought and painstakingly restored the derelict grade two-listed mill himself.

Chris Nunn in the museum's Victorian pharmacy. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Chris Nunn in the museum's Victorian pharmacy. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY - Credit: Archant © 2006


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His daughter Robyn Rosser remembers that he would work on oil rigs through the winter months to fund restoration costs, including buying 60 foot-long lengths of rough-cut timber from British Columbia which he shaped into windmill sails timbers.

Mr Nunn sold the site and its contents when he retired to Frettenham with his partner Pamela Samways in 2006.

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But new owners Yesterday's World, which runs nostalgia attractions in Great Yarmouth and Battle, East Sussex, closed it after one year claiming it was unviable.

The bygones were auctioned in lots and many collections were split. Today, the 18th-century mill, which is the tallest in Norfolk, has fallen into neglect.

Ms Samways said Mr Nunn had been disillusioned and disappointed at the fate of the building and museum in which he had invested so much time, care and money.

Born in Bury St Edmunds, Mr Nunn and his late wife Marion had spotted the derelict flour mill while driving in the area in the early 1970s and, when it later came up for sale, bought it.

He had begun his extensive social history collection in 1959 after rescuing a wooden washing dolly being used by a neighbour to flatten a cinder path.

Over the years Mr Nunn travelled extensively, including to the USA, in search of new additions, believing that he was preserving the past for the future. The pharmacy came from the Isle of Wight and he was also a regular visitor to major antiques fairs in Newark and Lincolnshire.

He would never refuse donations to the collection and, as a result, Singer sewing machines were stacked up to the ceiling.

Mr Nunn became a respected authority on 19th and 20th-century British social history and was often contacted by film and TV companies who wanted to get period details right.

He died in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on September 23 after a short illness. A funeral will be held at St Faith's Crematorium, Norwich, on Friday October 10 at 2pm.

? Would you like to pay tribute to Mr Nunn's work? Email: nnn.letters@archant.co.uk or write to North Norfolk News letters, 31 Church Street, Cromer NR27 9ES.

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