Visitors flock to centre to celebrate anniversary at Cley

To celebrate reaching its 90th anniversary of protecting Cley Marshes, Norfolk Wildlife Trust went b

To celebrate reaching its 90th anniversary of protecting Cley Marshes, Norfolk Wildlife Trust went back to the 1920's on Sunday 6 March at Cley Marshes visitor centre. With staff dressed in 1920s outfits also the entry was that of the 1920's price of just 9p. Pictured is Gary mills, senior visitor assistant and Rachael Wright, community education officer outside the new visitor centre. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Visitors to one of area's most popular tourist attractions were transported back in time at the weekend to celebrate Norfolk Wildlife Trust's 90th anniversary.

The entry fee at Cley Marshes visitor centre was slashed to 1920s prices - just 9p; staff dressed in period costume and served a vintage-themed afternoon high tea during a themed day to mark the milestone on Sunday.

It also put its archives on display and a gypsy jazz band provided the musical entertainment.

Rachael Wright, community education officer at Cley visitor centre, said: 'It has been very busy, which it can often be on a sunny day, but there is a lot of people who have come extra specially to celebrate our 90th with us.

'We're seeing numbers going up and up every year.

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'Tourism in general is increasing in Norfolk but there seems to be more of an interest in wildlife as well, and a bit of a buzz around what we are doing here.'

Visitors were able to explore a new public hide constructed on the East Bank, offering a sheltered place to rest and gaze over the marshes and reed bed. It is just one element of improved facilities on the nature reserve which also include new circular footpaths and the Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre.

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Gary Mills, senior admissions assistant, said: 'It's good to show people how much the trust has grown, and how much the reserve has grown, over the years. And how the original vision of creating large landscapes to protect the birds and the wildlife and the people who work there is still going strong today.'

In the history of wildlife conservation and birdwatching in the UK, few dates stand as proud as March 6, 1926 and the 90th anniversary of the UK's oldest Wildlife Trust is cause for a celebration.

It was on this date that 435 acres of marsh at Cley were bought by a group of 12 gentlemen subscribers led by Dr Sydney Long. Cley Marshes had long been famous for its birdlife and the group agreed to create a trust and give the marshes to it to be preserved, in Sydney Long's words, 'as a bird-breeding sanctuary for all time'. This was Norfolk Naturalists Trust, known today as Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

It was the foundation of a County Wildlife Trust movement, with Norfolk the first of the 47 Trusts that exist today across the UK.

Among the visitors at the weekend was Kate Hughes, from Swaffham, and her seven-year-old son Alexander. She said: 'We come up to the coast quite often. It's just beautiful, the nature that is available to visit and see is second to none.'

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