Bressingham Steam and Gardens
Bressingham Steam & Gardens is a steam museum and gardens located at Bressingham (adjacent to a Wyevale garden centre), west of Diss in Norfolk, England. 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.
The gardens were established by Alan Bloom MBE at Bressingham Hall. He moved to Bressingham in 1946, after selling his previous 36-acre (15 ha) site at Oakington in Cambridgeshire to raise the capital for the 220 acres (89 ha) in Norfolk, where he hoped to be both a farmer and a nurseryman. He was a plant expert of international renown, particularly in the field of hardy perennials. He laid out the Dell garden with its well-known island beds. His son, Adrian Bloom, laid out the Foggy Bottom garden.
Much of the site is given over to commercial horticulture. There is a garden centre on the site, trading as Blooms of Bressingham, although the nurseries themselves are not open to the public. Bressingham Gardens and Steam Museum is an independent charitable trust. Alan Bloom had wanted to create his own trust in 1967, to ensure that the collection would not be disbursed to pay for death duties, but the laws of the time made this difficult, and after five years of negotiation, the museum was nearly handed over to the Transport Trust. However, the legislation governing private museums was relaxed just before the handover in 1971, and Bloom was able to create his own Trust and thus retain control of it because the collection was of historical and educational importance.
The Narrow Gauge Lines
There are three railway lines which take visitors around the gardens:
- The Garden Railway - 10 1⁄4 in (260 mm) gauge miniature railway. The railway's passenger trains are operated by steam locomtive Alan Bloom, which was constructed along with the railway.
- The Nursery Railway - 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge railway. Three steam locomotives are based on the Nursery Railway. Quarry Hunslet 0-4-0STGeorge Sholto (built in 1909 and last overhauled in 2011) and 0-4-0PT Bevan (constructed at Bressingham in 2009) make up the operating fleet whilst 1883 built Quarry Hunslet 0-4-0ST Gwynedd is being overhauled.
- The Waveney Valley Railway - 15 in (381 mm) gauge miniature railway. The passenger trains are operated by 2-6-2T St Christopher (constructed by the Exmoor Railway in 2001). 1937 built Dusseldorf 4-6-2s Mannertreu and Rosenkavalier await attention.
The site also contains a short standard gauge section of track and standard gauge footplate rides are sometimes available to visitors.
During 2013, a circular track of dual 7 1⁄4 in (184 mm) gauge and 5 in (127 mm) gauge was under construction. Once completed, there will be a total of six different gauges at Bressingham.
Standard gauge steam locomotives
- NSB Class 21c 2-6-0 No. 377 King Haakon VII. Built in 1919. In working order, restored in 2006.
- LB&SCR A1 Class 0-6-0T No. 32662 Martello. Built in 1875. Under overhaul.
- GNR Class C1 (small boiler) 4-4-2 No. 990 Henry Oakley Built in 1898. On static display, on loan from the National Railway Museum.
- GER Class T26 2-4-0 No. 490. Built in 1894 On static display, on loan from the National Railway Museum.
- LT&SR 79 Class 4-4-2T No. 80 Thundersley. Built in 1909. On static display, on loan from the National Railway Museum.
- GER Class S56 0-6-0T No. 87. Built in 1904. On static display, on loan from the National Railway Museum.
- LSWR B4 class 0-4-0T No 102 Granville. Built in 1893. On static display.
- Beckton Gas Works 0-4-0ST No. 25. Built in 1896. On static display.
- Baddesley Colliery Beyer-Garratt 0-4-0+0-4-0 No. 6841 William Francis. Built in 1937. On static display. This is the last surviving standard gauge Garratt in Britain.
- DB/NSR Class 52 2-10-0 No. 5865 Peer Gynt. Built in the 1950s. Found in a caved-in tunnel and restored, now on static display.
A variety of steam vehicle are in the collection.
Steam Engines Portable and others
- Burrell No. 2363 of 1901 Portable.
- Youngs Portable of 1910 manufactured locally in Diss
- Tidman Centre Engine (fairground) No. 1891
- Merryweather Fire engine no. 3702
- Merryweather Fire pump of 1914
- Burrell No. 3962 Boxer of 1923 reg no. PW 1714
- Burrell No. 3993 Buster of 1924 reg no. CF 5646
- Robey (company) 4 ton Tandem Steam Roller No. 42520 Barkis built in 1925 reg No. FE 7632.
Steam Tractors / Traction
- Garrett 5 ton Steam Tractor No. 34641 Bunty, built in 1924 reg no. CF 5913.
- Burrell Traction engine No. 3112 Bertha of 1909 reg no. CF 3440
- Foster Traction engine No. 2821 Beryl of 1903 reg. no. BE 7448
- Fowler Traction engine No. 6188 Beulah of 1890 reg no. MA 8528
Dad's Army Collection
The museum is the home of the national Dad's Army collection of vintage vehicles. These are located on a reconstruction of the High Street in the fictional Walmington-on-Sea beside the butcher's shop of Lance-Corporal Jones, Private Frazer's undertaker's shop and Captain Mainwaring's bank office.
The vehicles include Jones' van and the dust cart from the 1971 film, Mainwaring's staff car used in the episode The Captain's Car, the vintage fire engine used in Brain Versus Brawn and the steamroller 'Boxer' and traction engine 'Bertha' which appeared in other episodes.
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