History

Anyone fancy a pint?

Dial House in its younger days 

Dial House in its younger days

The Brancaster Activity Centre has not always been a home away from home for excited children exploring the muddy creeks and sandy beach. In the past is has served the village in many ways. It was once the third pub in Brancaster Staithe, The Victory, and on a hot summers day we sometimes wish it still was... It has also been a home for the many Wardens (both for the Nature Conservancy Council - forerunner of Natural England - and National Trust) that have looked after the wildlife reserve on nearby Scolt Head Island and the Brancaster estate.

1998: Renovation and innovation

The building

Work begins on the restoration of Dial House in 1998 © Jo Rowland/National Trust

In 1998 Dial House and various outbuildings were renovated using a combination of funding from the Millennium Commission, National Trust and support from a number of organisations and generous individuals.

During this regeneration Dial House was combined with the adjoining Dial cottage and various outbuildings to create the Activity Centre.

Materials and technology

The beginning of free heat and electricity at BMAC. © Jo Rowland/National Trust

All materials that went into the renovation were selected for their low environmental impact.

The latest renewable technology and a building management system were installed. This provides data for visitors on their use of resources such as water, electricity and waste.

Educational value

Are we reducing our landfill waste? © NT

Seeing how individual actions and behaviours affect the use of resources, acts as a great way to highlight the impact small changes in behaviour has on resources and the environment.

Sustainability at our core

  • Reclaimed bricks, chalks and flints
  • British hardwoods or softwoods from sustainably managed forests
  • Shredded paper insulation and flooring made from natural plant fibres
  • Photo-voltaic / photo-thermal panels to generate electricity and heat
  • Ground source heat pump to help provide heating
  • Six water butts to help harvest rain water

Environmental education at Brancaster Staithe

Humble beginnings

Brancaster view from Barrow Common © Keith Miller

The very first activities and fieldwork to be run by National Trust at Brancaster Staithe, were operated from a small hut in a field nearby.

2005 Energy Busters

Brancaster view from Barrow Common © Keith Miller

Developed to spread the energy saving messages of the Activity Centre, the Energy Busters were formed in 2005. In partnership with Norfolk County Council, they visited nearly every school in Norfolk (and some National Trust properties too) and on average helped them save 14% of their energy use, making a huge difference to the counties carbon emissions. 

2009 garden project

The start of something tasty © NT

The garden project, including wildlife garden and vegetable patch, was inspired by inner city school pupils. Many of which did not have a garden or had seen vegetables growing. The project involved the redesigning and landscaping of our front garden with the help of volunteers and pupils from Brancaster Primary School.

What's new?

Is it a pub? is it house? no it's an activity centre!

Operation Phoenix has begun in earnest, after the Activity Centre was flooded in December 2013. We are hoping to be back in around August, and plans are well under way.

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