North Norfolk Stories Festival offers insight into our past

Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

From smugglers and fishermen to the history of a gas works, a new festival starting next week promises a wide range of events to suit all those with a thirst for knowledge about our region's past.

The first North Norfolk Stories Festival starts on Wednesday, May 13 and features 20 free events over four days for all ages at museums, libraries, heritage and wildlife sites.

It will give visitors the chance to explore and enjoy the area's fascinating history, through talks, walks, hands-on fun, music, exhibitions, wildlife, performances and much more.

The Festival is part of Museums at Night, the national after-hours festival of arts, culture and heritage, and many events take place at twilight when the venues are normally shut.

Fakenham Library asks visitors to share their memories of cinemas from yesteryear on Wednesday May 13 from 2pm to 5pm at its Norfolk at the Pictures event which includes an illustrated talk, refreshments and archive photos from the Fakenham Community Archive.

Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History will welcome visitors to learn more about The Romance of Gas on Thursday May 14, from 6pm to 10pm.

The museum will be open for guided and unguided tours, a local blacksmith demonstration and exhibitions relating to WW1 local history events.

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Fakenham Library also has a gas-themed event on the Thursday, from 6.30pm to 9pm. Historians will give an illustrated talk on the importance of gas to Fakenham, followed by a walk to the Gas Works for a ceremonial lighting of the gas lamp.

Wartime Songs with Timescape will be at Wells Library on Saturday May 16 from 11.30am-1pm. Enjoy a cake and a cuppa and take a trip down memory lane with songs of nostalgia from across the years.

Wells Maltings holds an interactive storytelling event on Saturday, May 16 from 2pm to 6pm. Stories of the Sea Storytail will tell about smugglers, maltsters and fishermen.

Other events include:

• Bats at the RAF Air Defence Radar Museum, Neatishead, Thursday May 14, 7-9pm: find out how radar works, learn about how bats navigate with their version of radar and enjoy museum trails and bat detection;

• The Screaming Cockler at Sheringham Little Theatre, Friday May 15, 7-7.45pm: watch a youth production which dramatizes the chilling story of Nancy, one of the Stiffkey Cockle-Pickers;

• A Wild Night at the Museum, Friday May 15 at the Museum of the Broads, Stalham, 6-8pm: explore Broadland's wildlife by the river with the Norfolk Wildlife Trust – make wildlife feeders and homes and much more.

• A Mammoth Night Out at Cromer Museum, Saturday May 16, 6-9pm: enjoy live music from The Time Fiddlers, colourful Victorian characters, hands-on activities and the lifesize mechanical model of the West Runton Elephant.

The events are co-ordinated by Museums Norfolk and the Festival is part of the North Norfolk Stories project which is supported for two years with £75,800 funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), after which it is hoped that the Festival will become an annual fixture on the events calendar.

Stephanie Potts, development manager at Museums Norfolk, said: 'This is North Norfolk's biggest ever Museums at Night programme and there is a brilliant range of free events for everyone to enjoy.

'It's a great chance for people to get out and about and experience some of our fantastic local museums, libraries and cultural sites in a different way and to see, do and learn something new.'

Festival leaflets are available across North Norfolk's libraries, other participating venues and tourist information centres.

* For more information visit the website, follow @museumsnorfolk on Twitter or email