Sail Through History
PUBLISHED: 16:30 29 June 2015 | UPDATED: 16:30 29 June 2015
Geoff Evans, new chairman of trustees at the Museum of the Broads, reveals his ambitions to help steer the attraction to a bright future.
A keen sailor and lover of Norfolk’s waterways, Geoff Evans is enjoying every minute of his new role as chairman of trustees at the Museum of the Broads.
“I have never been part of an organisation which has such an incredible team of volunteers,” he says. “We have 80 people and every day I am bowled over by their dedication, enthusiasm and sheer hard work, whether that is setting up exhibits, touching up paintwork or working with visitors.”
The museum tells the story of the Broads, from conservation, tourism and industry to displays of restored sailing craft, unique pieces of equipment and examples of how the waterways have inspired authors, naturalists and scientists.
After going to the museum at Stalham many times as a visitor, Geoff was asked if he would like to get involved with its running. “Every time I visited I was so impressed and was keen to volunteer, then two years ago, they asked if I would like to join the team, which I was thrilled about.”
As well as living in Norfolk for 60 years, Geoff is a keen sailor and also spent two decades as a magistrate, including a period as deputy bench chairman. “I love the Broads and have sailed all manner of different boats, including a wherry,” he says, adding that people seem more interested than ever in the history of the waterways and how they were used and managed.
“It is amazing at the museum to see how a marshman would have lived and managed the Broads and harvested the reeds all those years ago. The old methods might have gone but the need to manage the environment and drainage of the waterways has not. This is our Broadland environment and it doesn’t just exist, it needs a lot of care and we can learn a lot from the past.”
The team at the museum has many plans for the future but Geoff says that raising its profile and growing visitor numbers are essential to its on-going development.
“We are working on the further development of our educational role, not solely for youngsters, but also to make sure people can use what is a very exciting living resource. We are also currently involved in an exciting project to restore a water bicycle dating back about 90 years, which used to belong to the eccentric Norwich ferryman Bert ‘Nobby’ Clarke. His bike, known as the Nutty Slack, was used both for pleasure and trawling for bodies; there is a tally of ‘finds’ marked on the bike. We also plan to build a replica of the water bicycle which can actually be used.”
The museum organises a number of events to help raise funds, including the Beer and Jazz Evening on July 11 which is part of its on-going Beer - Broadland’s Breweries Past and Present exhibition.♦
The Museum of the Broads, The Staithe,
Stalham, NR12 9DA; 01692 581681;