Cookie Consent by

Made by the River

22 July 2023 – 30 June 2024

Visit this exhibition during our normal opening hours

Opening times


This exhibition is included with the general admission price 

Admission prices

Where we are

Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life, White Hart Street, Thetford, IP24 1AA 

How to get here

Made by the River tells the engaging story of the town’s old riverside industries from the 1800s to the 1980s. Displays featuring evocative names such as Fison’s fertilizers, Burrell’s steam engines and Bidwells brewery conjure up the sights, sounds and smells of the town’s rich industrial heritage.

Traction engine model, cardboard, 1977 Model of Burrell 6 horse power © Norfolk Museums Service (Ancient House)

The ancient town of Thetford grew up on the banks of the rivers Thet and Little Ouse. As the Industrial Revolution gathered pace, it was this location which made the town an important local centre for industry.

Everything from beer brewing to fruit and vegetable canning and malt making has taken place along its riverbanks. Other industries have included the aromatic grinding of coffee beans to the far less fragrant tanning of leather!

Pair of maltster’s shoes, malt fork and shovel with malt tester © Norfolk Museums Service

The exhibition will explore and celebrate these industries with a variety of products on display, alongside tools used by workers and the stories of some of the people who were employed in the factories and workshops.

The exhibition is being delivered as part of the Brecks Fen Edge and Rivers Landscape Partnership Scheme’s ‘Celebrating River Heritage’ Project under the ‘Industrious Rivers’ strand. It has been made possible with funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Main image: Thetford Beer Bottles and Flagons © Norfolk Museums Service

See all events at Ancient House

See all Ancient House events on our event search. You can search by date, type of activity, and who's visiting.

Postcard showing lighters on the river in Thetford, © Norfolk Museums Service

You may also be interested in ...

Industrious Rivers

This strand of the Brecks Partnership explores the history of trade and development along the area’s rivers