Digging, Draining, Drenching – The Story of Peat in the Broads

The Museum of the Broads launches a brand-new exhibition and accompanying film: Digging, Draining, Drenching – the Story of Peat in the Broads

Though a haven for wildlife, the Broads landscape is not entirely natural. Having gone through millennia of geological processes that left wide rivers and wetland, people then began to make their mark. This important new exhibition looks at the changes to the Broads landscape and asks what might happen next.

Firstly, by digging peat, people created the pits that later flooded, becoming the lakes or broads we know today. Then the land was drained using a system of ditches and pumps and walls were built to protect rich agricultural land from the sea. Peat landscapes make up 10% of the UK and 3% of the world. Not only do they support unique flora and wildlife, they also act as carbon stores. But with draining and ploughing, the process of releasing carbon from the Broads, that started with the digging of peat, continued.

This exhibition looks at the impact of peat on our special landscape and concludes with news of an exciting project to re-wet, or drench, some of the land. Plants that thrive locally can now be used in more ways, in building and as biomass fuel. This new industry of paludiculture could aid ecological diversity, be economically viable, and by retaining carbon within the bog landscape, combat climate change.

The exhibition was curated by Nicola Hems from an idea by Robert Paul, and the film maker is Julian Claxton. The exhibition will have activities for all ages, including a community weaving project that asks visitors to be inspired by the layers of the landscape and add layers to create a special artwork.

The Museum is grateful to the Broads Authority for their support through their Farming In Protected Landscapes fund.

The Museum of the Broads opened in 1996 and has been at the historic Stalham Staithe since 2000. Opening from Easter to end October and staffed mainly by volunteers, with a paid curator and administrator, it welcomes around 7,000 visitors each year. The Museum aims to bring the stories of the Broads alive through interesting and engaging experiences, including offering river trips on a Victorian steamboat and an accessible Edwardian style electric boat. Families and dogs are very welcome.

For further details please see https://allthingsnorfolk.com/places/museum-of-the-broads/