The history of Brancaster Activity Centre

Old painting of Dial House when it was the victory pub with sailing ship in the background

Brancaster Activity Centre has not always been a schools residential centre for excited children exploring the muddy creeks and sandy beach. It was once the third pub in Brancaster Staithe, The Victory. 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. 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.

1998 - Renovation & innovation

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. 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.

2015 - Refurbishment

In December 2013, the activity centre was extensively damaged by flooding following a tidal surge that hit the east coast. Following consultations the decision was taken to completely refurbish the centre bringing it up to date and to better meet the needs of our visitors. New flood mitigation technology was incorporated and working with our corporate partners Panasonic UK the centre has been equipped with energy efficient appliances. The centre reopened to the public in June 2015 and was officially declared open by our Director General, Dame Helen Ghosh on 18 July 2015.

National Trust Director General Dame Helen Ghosh officially reopened Brancaster Activity Centre in July 2015. Seen here with Project Wild Thing founder David Bond (left) and Norfolk Coast General Manager John Sizer (right)
Three people standing with buckets in front of a National Trust marquee