Tickets: Adults: £6, Children (5-18): £2


Annual General Meeting of the Museum of the Broads

Friday, 25 September 2020 at 1700

To be held by video conference


  1. Welcome by the President, Robert Paul
  2. Apologies for absence
  3. Minutes of the previous AGM
  4. Report from the Chair, Robert Paul
  5. Adoption of the Accounts January 2019 to December 2019
  6. Election of Directors/Trustees: Trevor Bone retires as a Director and Trustee by rotation and is proposed for re-election as Director and Trustee.
  7. Any other business constitutionally notified
  8. Consider the proposal that the next AGM be held at the Museum on Thursday 29 April 2021

Report by the Chair of the Trustees:


Well, what a year! And I am not even going to mention 2020!

It started with the usual winter maintenance and development programme, with our stalwart band of volunteers, carrying out essential work on the buildings and preparing for opening in March including putting together what turned out be a very successful 2019 exhibition ‘The Lost Railways of the Broads’.  This created a lot of interest from our visitors and supporters. The launch was held on April 13th with ‘Friends’, volunteers and special guests invited. It was particularly nice to welcome Peter Bower, owner and operator of The Barton House Railway and of course, Wherry Yacht Charter of Wroxham. It was a fascinating glimpse into the past and a largely forgotten era. Congratulation to Curator Nicola and her team.

Nick and his team completed a replica of the water bicycle ‘Nutty Slack’ which was hugely successful, and continues to create a lot of interest. It made the journey (by road!) to the Norfolk Showground in July and was featured on local tv. It was one of those really special projects – a great idea and one I hope can be replicated. Our mission statement says ‘Bringing the Story of the Broads Alive’. Such activities as the Nutty Slack replica really do! More please! 

The results for the year were satisfactory with a total of around 8,000 visitors (about the average over the last five years) and an income of £57,491 (admissions, café, shop and boat trips) We are holding our own, just, but need to keep up the pressure to continue to attract more visitors with new and innovative additions to our displays – something I know we have the ability to do. We are in a very competitive sector and cannot afford to be complacent!         

Another big project was the commissioning of ‘Marsh Harrier’ – a brand new Otter 26, electrically powered 12 seater launch with hydraulically operated disabled lift. It was made possible by major grant funding from  ‘Leader Plus’ and Sheringham Shoal and is a great addition to our fleet, being suitable for all weathers! We had some teething problems but she has already proved very popular and added another dimension to our visitor experience. Again, this was only possible through Nicola, Gill and Trevor’s hard work. These grant applications require considerable time and effort! Thank you too, to the International Boat Building College at Oulton Broad for producing such a beautiful craft. I should also pass on our sincere thanks to John Caschere from Riverbank Boats at Catfield for his advice and help during the building process and his patience with our constant questions!

As part of the application to ‘Leader Plus’ we were also able to commission the building of a new steam engine for Falcon. Although it would have been nice to continue with the original engine, the on-going maintenance was getting prohibitively expensive. This new engine should also give us improved reliability.

The other dominating issue was the negotiation to purchase the adjoining boatyard ‘John Williams Boats’ also known as Cookes Staithe. It has long been a dream to acquire this property. At times over the past 15 years it had seemed beyond our grasp but from 2018 it began to seem as though it might be possible. Following long discussions at our trustee meetings and lengthy negotiations with John Williams, we eventually completed the purchase on July 17th.  And Cookes Staithe was ours! I believe it was the right course of action to secure the museum’s future and will transform what we are able to offer our visitors. Of course it would not have been possible without the amazing help we had from our Friends, volunteers and supporters – all donations were so gratefully received, and just a ‘thank you’ doesn’t seem adequate! Already the property is proving its worth and we will all work hard towards a new configuration of the whole site, improving visitor facilities, offices, archives, café, shop and of course the opening of new displays. Exciting times!

On a less happy note, these final negotiations took place during John’s deteriorating health, nevertheless he was always very keen that we should acquire the property, and right up to the last, his resolve never wavered. He died on July 25th, just a week after we completed, but I believe he was content the transfer had been completed. We hope to eventually recognise his contribution to boat building on the Broads with a display in his former boatyard. He is sadly missed.

In addition, we also sadly lost two other members of the team. Martin Carruthers who died in January and Su Cox in February. Both greatly valued volunteers and supporters of our museum but also true friends. We send our heartfelt commiserations and best wishes for the future to both their families.  

Geoff Evans, stood down after his three years as chair of trustees and I had the pleasure of presenting him with a framed photograph of yacht racing at Wroxham together with a bottle of his favourite tipple! And of course thanking him for his unstinting and dedicated work as chair, and his determination to overhaul how the museum committees and management structures function recognising the now important and not insignificant business activities.

We were sad to lose Sally Kirwan in the spring, and Caroline Male and Ted Coates who decided to step down as trustees in May. We take this opportunity to thank them for all their hard work and considerable and valued input to the development of the museum in many different areas.

We were very happy to welcome Richard Powell OBE as a trustee in September and for his contribution to trustee meetings. Sadly, for family reasons he had to step down the following February.  We hope that at some point in the future he will be able to re-join us. He has extensive experience in charity work with similar organisations and we would love to welcome him back.

Finally, I want to express my thanks to

Nicola Hems, our amazing curator – she continues to bring professionalism and dedication to all she undertakes. We are proud to have her guidance.

Gill Austin, our administrator who works tirelessly to achieve the smooth running of the museum, not always easy! And for the avalanche of spreadsheets that come our way!

The Documentation and Publications team, who do a tremendous job in a tiny office! Vital work in the recording, storage and display of our amazing Broads Collection.

All our wonderful reception and maintenance volunteers without whom we just wouldn’t be able to open.  Nick for keeping our Tuesday and Wednesday teams busy and for keeping a watchful eye on all our buildings! Thank you all.

And of course all our boat crews – both ‘Falcon’ and ‘Marsh Harrier’ who keep the boats operating and providing such a great experience for our visitors.

And my fellow trustees :

David Talbot for his expert financial and business guidance. I am sure we all feel that little bit more relaxed with his steady hand on the tiller!

Trevor Bone for his continued dedication to so many things throughout the museum. He always seems to come up with the answers!  

Pamela Masters for all she continues to do to ensure the doors stay open, with the reception volunteers, her work in helping to keep the ‘Friends’ group functioning and the all-important fund raising.

Jacqui Griffyth for her valued input at trustee meetings drawing on her extensive experience in IT, management structures and contributing to future development issues.

And ok, just a brief reference to 2020! In danger of stating the obvious, this year has been like no other. We wonder if anything will be quite the same again. It has affected everything we do and in the coming months much thought must be given to how the museum evolves and moves forward. We are up to the challenge – this has been proved in the few weeks since we opened but it takes its toll. We have to be positive – there are still exciting times ahead for our great museum.

Robert Paul