11th May 2017

While we were sitting having a little drinkie last night, the house phone rang. Graham answered it and had a conversation with the lady on the other end. We have no idea who she was but she recommended that we go to Bressingham Gardens, which she said was fairly local and worth seeing. So we made that today’s trip.

The site has several narrow gauge rail lines and a number of types of steam engines and vehicles in its collection and is also the home of the national Dad’s Army exhibition. I have to admit, I never really watched Dad’s Army as it was aired mostly during my disco-dancing years – and I was never in, so I didn’t watch much at that time! So that part of it didn’t mean all that much to me, but the rest was good.

Lots of information about the history of steam, how it worked and what it was used for – to supply power to factories and hospitals as well as powering the steam trains that we all know about.

In the collection of engines are royal steam trains all kitted out with comfortable furniture, beds, bathrooms etc. The train that was used in the recent Tarzan movie, Travelling Post Office trains fitted with sorting equipment so that the postmen could get the mail ready for delivery on route, steam rollers, working trains you can have a ride on and (best of all!) a steam-powered bobby horse carousel.

Some information about the impact of the introduction of stationary engines:  The introduction of the stationary steam engine coincided with, and was a part of, a revolution that saw the change away from an agricultural economy to an industrial one.  The process led to many people working in factories who had previously worked on the land, or in their own home-based industries. The stationary steam engine played an important role in this, since it ran on a non-natural power that was not tied to its location and was capable of running a large number of machines off one engine. The large investment involved in setting up a steam-powered factory meant that engines ran continuously so as to be at their most economic. Employees, including children, worked a 15-hour day and were fined for any act that wasted time. The reductions in labour costs per item that the machines brought led to an increase in trade as products became cheaper. 

A stationary steam engine

Steam 4

The engine below provided the electricity at St. Andrew’s Hospital in Norwich:

Steam 5

Here are some of the other engines we saw:

Steam 1

Steam 2

Steam 5

And some trains:

TRain 1

Train 2

And the train used in the Tarzan movie – complete with ‘cosmetic dust’ to make it look the part:

Tarzan train

The Carousel

The Victorian Steam Gallopers Roundabout is Bressingham Steam’s Centrepiece and one of the finest sets to be seen anywhere. Built by Savage’s of King’s Lynn in 1897 and then rebuilt by Savage’s with a new centre engine in 1900.  It was owned and operated by the Thurston family of Norfolk until 1934. It was later operated for 6 years at Whitley Bay by Mr Hickey.

The centre engine, originally built by Tidman’s of Norfolk has been completely rebuilt and fitted by Bressingham engineers. The Gallopers organ is a 48 keyless Bruder-built Chiappa. The set came to Bressingham in 1967 and is an ongoing restoration project.

The Carousel


The workroom

Beauty pARLOUR

And a carousel horse being beautified:


Here’s a bit of food for thought. Has our postal system progressed in these modern times? Or not…

post fact

And look at this slogan on the Butcher’s van:


Families waited upon daily…..how nice would that be? I sometimes get the impression that some businesses slogans should be – Do it Our Way or Do Without!

And a lovely old fire engine. This is one that was used in the Dad’s Army series:

Fire engine

Fire engine 2

The Gardens

The gardens at Bressingham were established by Alan Bloom (Mr. Bloom, the Gardener?) who was a plant expert of international renown, particularly in the field of hardy perennials. There are several gardens to look at and all are wonderful. He laid out the Dell Garden with its island beds and his son, Adrian laid out the Foggy Bottom garden.

The gardens cover 220 acres and are a real pleasure to walk through. Very imaginatively done, wonderful mix of plants with regard to height, colour and season and even a giant sequoia and a redwood that were grown from seed.

Just a few pictures:

Garden 1

garden 2

garden 3Garden 4

And just to give you a chuckle – we didn’t actually want to go on the fair, but if we had…




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