Malmsmead Field Centre

The Society much regrets that the Malmsmead Field Centre had to close in 2008 due to circumstances beyond our control. The new centre is at Porlock Weir

Malmsmead Centre from Outside
A view of the Malmsmead Natural History Centre from the outside

Originally the Exmoor Natural History Society had their centre at Oare Village Hall. Not surprisingly in the parish of Oare, even though in the village of Malmsmead.

Built following various fund-raising events by local residents. It was opened as a Village Hall on Wed. 27 August, 1930, to serve the people of Oare and Culbone. This was no small event and commenced with a short religious service, followed by a Gymkhana and Fete with stalls, skittles, treasure hunt and teas. At 7.30 p.m. there was a Dance which continued well into the evening. 

For ten years, the Hall was well used for social events and business meetings and regular dances. During World War II, concerts, harvest suppers and Sunday school events took place. American soldiers from the nearby encampment joined the dance nights.

Malmsmead Post WWII

After the war, regular events continued with Hunt Dances and Bingo, etc. There was a childrens party to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Flush lavatories and new furniture was installed in 1960. In 1973, a new modern Village Hall was built at nearby Brendon and this saw the dwindling use of Oare Village Hall, until eventually it stood unused.

The Exmoor Natural History Society Take Over

Malmsmead display boards
Display boards from the Malmsmead Natural History Centre

Thus the scene was set in the Autumn of 1976 when the Exmoor Natural History Society agreed to set up a Centre here. It soon became a popular venue with over 4000 visitors each summer. A Malmsmead Management Committee was formed with Mr Peter Bivand as Chairman. This post was subsequently held by Mr Tom Frampton (1986); Mr John Waite (1990) and Mr Mervyn Cornish in 2000) 

In the early years of our management the Centre was frequently visited by school parties from far and near, often two or three in a week. Children from London who had never seen sheep before are well remembered. Many schools came back time and again for a conducted walk and time spent in the Centre with the displays and games. Sadly, with financial cut-backs in funding to schools these groups dwindled and today a school party is a rare occurrence.