April to the end of October, Saturdays and Sundays – 10.00am – 4pm
We can accommodate out of hours visits (especially schools and groups), but please seek an appointment first.
Brandon’s Heritage Centre is located within the old Fire Station, which was modified 1990s. The Fire Station is now in a purpose built building opposite the Heritage Centre. The Heritage Centre is small but aims to pack as much of Brandon’s heritage as is possible, and is managed by volunteers. From the flints, to fur, to forestry, wartime, bronze age and refreshing ‘pop-up’ exhibitions. Below is a floorplan to give an idea of what visitors can expect to see.
Take a trip into the bottom of a flint shaft, as Neolithic man mines for valuable flint. Look at how cramped the tunnel on the bottom of the shaft is, as the men tunnel into the flint. Can you spot what tools they are using to extract the flint? So if working in those cramped conditions is not enough, now think about how you get a huge lump of heavy flint to the surface.
“A MEDIEVAL FLOWERING”
So after Neolithic man made hand tools and arrow heads from flint what was next for this robust material? Building, that’s what! You will see flints in the walls of this region’s churches and other historic buildings. Today, as we appreciate our architecture, you may see flint going into new builds, although these tend to more cosmetic than structural.
“A KILLING TRADE, Waterloo & all that”
Here we see the cramped conditions of the flintknapper, in our recreation of a room similar to those used by the ‘knappers. On display are the eye shields, to prevent injury from jagged flint flying off. Also on display is a replica flintlock. Why not pull the latch back, pull the trigger and watch the small spark. Can you work out how the sparking flint would fire a projectile toward its target? At the heart of Wellington’s victory at Waterloo was flint knapped in Brandon Suffolk.
“FIT FOR A KING”
As the need for flint waned Brandon was fortunate to find another profitable business to get into. It was not long before huge fur factories employed vast amounts of labourers from the town. Rought’s on George Street and Lingwood’s on Lode Street (then London Road) were the big players, and boy did they create a smell! Numbers of warreners would go out and trap the rabbits, also known as coneys, and an example of a trap can be seen here. Fancy setting it off?
“RABBIT FUR & HATS”
Owning one of the fur factories was hugely profitable. Working in one was dirty, smelly and dangerous. Machines often operated without adequate guards, and even in the Second World War a young woman lost a hand after getting it caught in a machine full of sharp knives. It was usually the less educated working class who worked in them, although some women, worked from home and were paid as “fur pullers”. Furs were imported into the factories as the demand and dwindling rabbit population made it difficult to keep production going.
“A MULTI-ROLE FOREST”
Thetford Forest is a vast natural resource on our doorstep. Planted after WW1 to replenish the lack of timber for pit props, it has now become home to many species of flora and fauna. In the past three of decades it has also gained popularity as a place of leisure – cycling, walking, bird watching, etc.
HARVEY ADAM ROOM
Harvey Adam was a very well respected Town Councillor and Chairman, and so it seems fitting an exhibition is dedicated to his memory. As well as displaying Harvey’s parachute from WW2, he was in the Parachute Regiment and dropped into France, the room features many other wartime artefacts. From a WW1 ‘Death Plaque’ to WW2 Gas masks. There are also household items, such as bottles and an electric iron.
STONE & IRON AGE
On display are many locally found items, metal pins, pottery, coins, and other items found by the local community.
‘POP UP’ EXHIBITIONS
To keep the Heritage Centre fresh and interesting we plan on adding new regular temporary displays, we like to call them ‘pop up’ exhibitions, which will cover a wide range of subjects. It could be about a specific building, family name, diverse culture, or whatever we think will be interesting. It does not have to be us doing this, and will also include exhibitions from local groups and individuals. The only rules are it has to be Brandon-related and interesting. Let us know if you have anything worthy of displaying so we can work together to publicise it and share it with the rest of the community.