Bressingham Steam and Gardens

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This article is about the steam museum and gardens in Norfolk. For the Norfolk village, see Bressingham.
The entrance to Bressingham Steam and Gardens
70013, Oliver Cromwell, at Bressingham, May 2004
The carousel in the 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.[1]

The Gardens[edit]

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.[2] 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.[2]

The Narrow Gauge Lines[edit]

There are three railway lines which take visitors around the gardens:

The Garden Railway[edit]

10 14 in (260 mm) gauge miniature railway. Runs through the Dell Garden, giving passengers good views of the various plants. The railway's passenger trains are operated by steam locomotive Alan Bloom, which was constructed along with the railway.

The Nursery Railway[edit]

2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge railway. The Nursery Railway was the first railway to be completed at Bressingham, first opening in 1968. The railway is 2.5 miles in length and crosses the Waveney Valley Railway, running parallel to it for a short distance. It also runs through meadows and passes the now defunct plant nurseries.

Locomotives:

Number and name Builder Type Livery Notes Image
316 Gwynedd Hunslet 0-4-0ST Penrhyn Quarry Hunslet Lined Penrhyn Quarry Black Built in 1883. The locomotive spent all of its working life at Penrhyn Quarry until arriving at Bressingham in 1966 and became a regular performer. A major overhaul was completed in 2000, where Gwynedd received a new boiler. The locomotive operated until 2009 when it was withdrawn from service for another overhaul. This was started in 2014, the work carried out so far includes the construction of a new firebox. Narrow Gauge Train - geograph.org.uk - 359667.jpg
994 George Sholto Hunslet 0-4-0ST Quarry Hunslet Lined Green Built in 1909. Like Gwynedd, George Sholto also operated at Penrhyn Quarry. The locomotive was restored at Bressingham and spent a period of time operating under its other guise of Bill Harvey and without a cab. It was withdrawn from service in the mid 2000s in need of a major overhaul. The overhaul involved the construction of a new boiler and work on the chassis, plus a cab being installed for the first time in preservation. This was completed in 2011 and George Sholto is once again a regular performer on the Nursery Railway, sometimes operating demonstration slate trains like it used to at Penrhyn. George Sholto awaiting departure at Bressingham.jpg
2 Bevan Bressingham 0-4-0WT (based on the Kerr Stuart Wren design) Lined Red Bevan was constructed by the Bressingham workshops in 2010. It is operational and is frequently used on passenger trains.
22210/7 Motor Rail Simplex 4wd Simplex Brown Built in 1964. Disguised to resemble Toby the Tram Engine. The locomotive was the Nursery Railway's main passenger diesel but is now a static exhibit in the Exhibition Hall.
8911 Hunslet 4wDH Hunslet Unlined Blue. Built in 1980. The locomotive is operational and is primarily used to pull passengers on the Nursery Railway at quieter times of the year.
9155 Bovis Hunslet 4wBE Lined Black Built in 1971. A rare example of a Hunslet Battery Electric locomotive. Operational and used as the workshop yard shunter.

The Waveney Valley Railway[edit]

15 in (381 mm) gauge miniature railway. The line was first opened in 1973 and is 1.5 miles in length. It crosses the Nursery Railway and also runs parallel to the 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge line for a time.

Locomotives:

Number and name Builder Type Livery Notes Image
1662 Rosenkavalier Krupp 4-6-2 Pacific Lined light Green Built in 1937. Along with Mannertreu she was built for use at a trade fair in Düsseldorf. Arrived at Bressingham in 1973 and has been a mainstay of the Waveney Valley Railway. Withdrawn from service in 2011 in need of a major overhaul and is currently on display in the Exhibition Hall. Rosenkavalier stands at the Waveney Valley Railway stop at Bressingham.jpg
1993 Mannertreu Krupp 4-6-2 Pacific Lined dark Green Built in 1937. Along with Rosenkavalier she was built for use at a trade fair in Düsseldorf. Arrived at Bressingham in 1973 and has been a mainstay of the Waveney Valley Railway. Withdrawn from service in 2008 and requires a major overhaul. Currently stored dismantled in the engine shed. Bressingham Gardens and Steam Museum - geograph.org.uk - 435142.jpg
St Christopher Exmoor Steam Railway 2-6-2T Lined Blue Constructed by the Exmoor Steam Railway in 2001 and was based on the Windmill farm Railway. The locomotive moved to Bressingham in 2011 and is operational. It is the main locomotive used on the Waveney Light Railway. St Christopher at Bressingham.jpg
D6353 Beaver J. Brown 4wd-4wdDM Green with full Yellow ends. Built in 1998. Based on a British Rail Class 22 locomotive. Stored out of use in the engine shed.
Ivor Frezne Engineering 4wDH Green Built in 1979. Stored in the engine shed.


During 2013, a circular track of dual 7 14 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[edit]

  • NSB Class 21c 2-6-0 No. 377 King Haakon VII. Built in 1919. Last overhauled in 2006. Stored awaiting overhaul.
  • LB&SCR A1 Class 0-6-0T No. 662 Martello. Built in 1875. Operational, boiler ticket expires in 2026. Painted in SR Lined Green.
  • 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.
  • Andrew Barclay 0-4-0F No. 1472 Bluebottle. Built in 1916. Stored out of use.
  • Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns 0-4-0CT No. 7070 Millfield. Built in 1942. Stored out of use.

Steam vehicles[edit]

A variety of steam vehicles are in the collection.[3]

Steam Engines Portable and others[edit]

  • 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

Steam Rollers[edit]

  • 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[edit]

  • 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[edit]

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 Making of Private Pike, the vintage fire engine used in Brain Versus Brawn and the steamroller 'Boxer' and traction engine 'Bertha' which appeared in other episodes.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dads Army exhibition Retrieved 7 May 2009
  2. ^ a b Steam Engines at Bressingham, (1976), Alan Bloom, Faber and Faber, ISBN 0-571-10867-9
  3. ^ Old Glory Magazine No.229 feb 2009 page 48 (Museum collections listing)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°23′05″N 1°03′26″E / 52.3846°N 1.0571°E / 52.3846; 1.0571