Wildfowl and Wetland Trust – Slimbridge Centre

The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust conserves, restores and creates wetlands for wildlife and people across the UK and many other countries. Slimbridge, Gloucestershire was its first reserve and where the founder Sir Peter Scott worked and lived from 1950. His house there had remained largely unchanged since Scott’s death in 1989. The Pilgrim Trust has contributed to the conservation and restoration of the building and its treasures allowing it to be opened to the public as an interactive museum.

Scott’s house at Slimbridge is a microcosm of conservation history. Its many artworks, books, scientific research materials and artefacts tell the personal story of Scott’s life’s work including his enormous contribution to conservation.   The BBC’s first ever natural history programme was presented by Sir Peter live from the living room in the house in 1953.  From the 1950s, many significant events in the history of conservation played out in Sir Peter’s house. The first worldwide moratorium on whaling was established there, as were the international agreements banning mining and drilling in Antarctica. Scott initiated the establishment of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species from Slimbridge.

The house was in poor condition and its contents were at risk. The project involved structural restoration work to conserve the house whilst greatly improving heating/humidity control and installing UV filters to preserve its contents. To maintain and enhance the heritage value, it was essential that WWT catalogue, label and conserve all the materials in the house for the first time. A database recorded the stories behind the pieces. Volunteers curated the pieces under the guidance of a museum collections’ manager.

The restoration of Scott House has now been completed. Without this project, the house would have fallen into further disrepair. The house has been transformed into a living museum, giving visitors an insight into Scott’s life and the treasures that chart the history of conservation. Four rooms in the building have become a fully-guided museum experience allowing visitors to imagine themselves in Scott’s shoes and to step back 60 years in time. The public can explore the 1950s kitchen as well as experience the spectacular views from Scott’s studio over his beloved lake; the Rushy Pen.

Since September, volunteers have been giving insightful and engaging guided visitor tours twice a day. The tours and the treasures on display showcase the significance of the role wetlands play in modern conservation and honour Scott’s remarkable achievements.

Images with kind permission of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust