In 1888, workmen digging for clay to make brick and tiles came across boat timbers preserved in the clay on Island Carr in Brigg, between the old and new Rivers Ancholme.
The sewn plank boat was surveyed by the Lincoln County Chartered engineer James Thropp, and then after having one very small section removed, the rest was reburied to preserve it again in the clay.
After E V Wright, who had excavated remains of prehistoric boats at North Ferriby became a Trustee of the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, he encouraged the museum to find and excavate what has become known as the Brigg Raft. Using James Thropp’s treasure map, the boat was re-located in 1973 and excavated in 1974 under the guidance of Professor Sean McGrail.
Timbers were subsequently radiocarbon dated to 800BC. The Raft was taken to Greenwich for conservation and sadly was then put into storage.
In the new 21st century, an idea was put forward to bring the Raft back to its home and to build a Heritage Centre around it, something for which the people of Brigg and the Ancholme Valley had long wished for. Negotiations were held in 2011 between North Lincolnshire Council’s Museum Service and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich for its return.
Fundamental to the success of these negotiations was the provision of a suitable building to house the Raft and the ability for the public to have access. The first floor of the Angel, a former coaching inn dating back to the 16th century, but more recently used as council offices situated in the very centre of Brigg, had become available and the Heritage Centre was born.
The Centre opened to the public in June 2012 with one gallery that charted the history of the Ancholme Valley from the Prehistoric through to medieval periods. Prior to going on display, the Raft had to go York Archaeological Trust to be cleaned of the preserving wax it had been coated in and it did not make and appearance until the spring of 2013 but it now takes pride of place in Gallery One.
The Centre then pushed forward with phase two and Gallery Two, which takes the visitor on a whistle stop tour from the Tudors through to the present day. Gallery Two was opened in November 2014, along with a Period Room and two large Education Rooms used for temporary exhibitions, craft sessions and talks, the Brigg Heritage Centre now occupies the whole of the first floor of the Angel building.
In April 2014 North Lincolnshire Council handed over the responsibility of financing and running Brigg Heritage Centre to the Ancholme Valley Heritage Trust, and to try and meet this need the Buttercross Meeting Room was added to the portfolio.
The Trust continues to strive to bring fresh and exciting temporary exhibitions and updates to the Heritage Centre. With the latest innovation being the re-working of the Period Room into the Period Research Room; where visitors can sit and study local history and family histories with the use of newspaper cuttings and local books or via the internet, in the sure knowledge that an experienced researcher is available should help be needed.
The Ancholme Valley Heritage Trust is a charity and, apart from one member of staff, is run totally by volunteers. Your support and help is therefore vital to our survival.
We pride ourselves on the personal touch and your visit, however long or short, and your experience at Brigg Heritage Centre is important to us.
We look forward to welcoming you soon.