“ Address: Strumpshaw / Norwich / NR13 4HR „
~*~*~*What I did on my Holidays~*~*~*
As a family we made the decision to risk the rain and go camping at Hemsby in Yarmouth. Now as you would expect from the weather in good old Blighty we had a few showers and a thunderstorm. Luckily for us only one of the days was a complete washout prompting us to look for an indoor activity. One of the many leaflets we had picked up was for Strumpshaw Steam Museum, my hubby has a love of steam powered engines so it was decided that we would spend the rainy morning there.
The Steam Museum is situated about ten miles out of Norwich in the village of Strumpshaw (Great name) and is well sign posted; it was very easy to find using the postcode NR13 4HR in our satnav.
The museum is situated in the grounds of Strumpshaw Hall and is a private collection started by Wesley Key; the collection is now owned by his grandson William Key and has been added to by Wesley Keys son James Key. Unfortunately James Key passed away in 2011 and the Museum is now run by a group of family and friends.
The Museum opened 1954 when the engines were moved to Strumpshaw Hall from North Walsham. The Museum houses what is believed to be the largest private collection of steam engines in the UK. Many of the steam engines are still in working order.
The drive and parking of the museum is quite informal, we just pulled up on some grass near the entrance, avoiding the chickens and peacocks. There is no charge for parking and when we arrived there was only one other car parked up.
At the entrance to the museum there is a small café area, we were greeted in a very enthusiastic and friendly manner by the only member of staff on site that day, the entrance fee was £5 per adult and £2 per (5-16) child, a family ticket for two adults and two children is £12, OAP's are £4 and under 5's are free. The museum only accepts cash.
The first thing we did after paying was to order a cup of tea, tea and coffee options were very basic but for a £1 a cup I can't complain, there were also a small selection of cans of pop 60p, biscuits 30p, chocolate bars 60p and ice creams £1. Much to the delight of my husband we were told we could walk around with our cuppa's and snacks.
The collection is housed in a large warehouse and is quite extensive, there doesn't seem to be any order to the way it is laid out so I will describe it the way I went around and what stood out for me.
Housed at the top end of the warehouse is a large beam engine, my husband and I did not think this worked until the young lad from the café jogged up and set it off, the mechanics of the beam engine are amazing, I personally am not an engineering fan but there was something simply beautiful about the way it moved and the sound it made, very rhythmic. My husband sat and watched the engine for a while as he drank his cuppa and munched a Twix.
Situated behind the beam engine there are some old tractors dating from the 1940's to the early 50's. These were quite interesting to look at as you could see the steady progression in the mechanics and design of the machines. Next to the big beam engine there is a smaller beam engine that also works.
For me personally the most enjoyable items were the big steam engines that were used for farm equipment and as steam rollers. The size of the engines was astounding and I could have quite easily walked under some of them without ducking. It was plain to see that the engines are part of a much cherished collection as the majority of them looked to be in working order and were not dusty.
My daughter really enjoyed looking at the 60 key Fairground Organ, the organ was built around the 1900's and looked to be in great condition. We were even more impressed when the young lad from the café reappeared and started the organ up; the sound produced by the organ was amazing and we sat for some time listening to it in the seats provided.
All around the warehouse walls there were photographs from past steam rally's that had been hosted at Strumpshaw Steam Museum and photo's from when Fred Dibnah visited and filmed at the museum. On the walls there were lots of old signs for petrol, fairgrounds and lots of other stuff. There were also horses from fairground rides dotted about the warehouse and there was a massive 1930's ride under restoration. Everywhere I looked there was something interesting to look at.
There was a small bar set in one corner of the museum, I think this is open when there are steam rally's and functions on at the museum. The museum also houses a beautiful Christie Cinema Organ and hosts organ concerts every Sunday.
The gift shop was the usual stuff, and most of it seemed unrelated to the museum apart from having a train theme, I did pick a lovely little Strumpshaw Hall pin badge up for my husband for £2.
In the grounds of the museum there is a narrow gauge railway which runs at weekends. There are also basic facilities for caravanning at £12 a night including electric hook up, prices do increase when there is a steam rally.
The museum is very accommodating and welcomes coach parties, evening visits and out of season visits by arrangement. The opening times for the museum and other useful information can be found on the website www.strumpshawsteammuseum.co.uk
Overall I feel that the steam museum is well worth a visit if you are in the area, it is a fantastically well run place, the only member of staff working that day (Friday 13th July 2012) was brilliant and made our experience all the more interesting as he was happy to chat about the museum and the exhibits and was happy to start up the beam engines and the organ for us.
Thank you for reading.