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Saturday, 1 September 2012

Bressingham Steam & Gardens

In a nutshell

Gauge:   2', 15" and 10¼

Length:  2' gauge - 1.31 miles - 15" gauge = 1.41 miles - 10¼" gauge =  480 yards

Opened: 1965


Bressingham Steam & Gardens
Low Road
IP22 2AA 

View Narrow Gauge Railways in a larger map



Date of visit: 27 August 2012


Key Facts

  • The railway museum was established initially as a private collection by Alan Bloom, a well known plant expert and nurseryman
  • In addition to the narrow gauge railways and stock, the museum also owns standard gauge exhibits, traction engines, stationary steam engines and houses a display celebrating the TV sitcom, Dad's Army
  • There is also a steam-powered fairground 'galloper' carousel
  • A single entry ticket provides access to the gardens, unlimited train rides and three rides on the carousel
  • The grounds also include a café and garden centre
  • The train rides take visitors through the nurseries adjacent to the gardens




My Impressions

It has been quite a few years since I last visited Bressingham and so I was not sure what I would find had changed. It was reassuring to see that most of the good things I remembered from my previous visits had been retained or improved.

As it was Bank Holiday Monday, I was directed to the overflow car park and bought my all-inclusive ticket from the booth. The ticket entitled me to access all exhibits, gardens and have free rides on all the trains. It also allowed me to have three rides on the Gallopers carousel.

I decided to start my exploration of the site by boarding the 15" gauge Waveney Valley train which was hauled on this occasion by 2-6-2 tank loco, St Christopher.

Shortly after leaving the station, the line crosses the 2' gauge Nursery Railway.

After skirting a small lagoon, the railway crossed the 2' line once more and, before pulling away from the nursery and heading for the lower end of the estate, there was an opportunity to view the 2' gauge locomotive "George Sholto" which had recently returned from a trip to the Penrhyn Quarry in Bethesda for the inauguration of the heritage railway where this loco originated.

The train then chuffed its way through water meadows before plunging into woodland .......

...... where it crossed a couple of streams and wound its way through trees and rhododendrons.

Eventually the railway ran parallel to the standard gauge railway ..........

........before returning to its station.

After a quick lunch of quiche and salad in the café, which also sells a range of hot pies, I decided to take a ride on the two foot gauge Nursery Railway. Ex-Penrhyn Quarry 0-4-0 Hunslet George Sholto was on duty for my train.

After slowly negotiating its way down the site towards the 15" gauge Waveney Valley Railway, past the carousel, the dodgems and the 7¼" gauge railway ............

....the train headed out towards the meadows.

A short while later we re-crossed the 15" gauge track, as its train waited patiently for our passing .....

...... and then the train meandered back through the nursery, which was slowly falling into decay as the tenancy had apparently lapsed. We eventually completed the circuit and detrained, before the loco pulled the train forward to the adjoining platform for its next train load of passengers.

Later in the day, another 2' gauge 0-4-0 loco, "Bevan" assumed duties. This freelance locomotive had been assembled at the Works in Bressingham from scratch.

I then spent some time studying the 10¼" gauge garden railway. After watching the arrival and departure of the train a couple of times under the control of 0-4-0 replica Hunslet, Alan Bloom .........

...........I wandered through the formal gardens, .........

  ....... to trace the route of the railway.

On this occasion, I didn't ride this railway - an excuse maybe for a return visit?

For the final hour or so of my visit, I explored the static exhibits. The standard gauge railway.......

.... together with its array of locomotives and royal carriages .......

 ....... the two foot narrow gauge locomotives ......

...... and one of the slumbering 15" gauge WVR locos.

 There was also an opportunity to observe the museum's steam powered Sentinel shuttle bus, Martha,.......

...... the collection of stationary steam engines, ..........

 ........ railwayana and model railway exhibits, including 7mm scale and16mm scale narrow gauge layouts ........

...... and a 4mm standard gauge scenic layout.

 Finally, there came more nostalgia in the form of the Dad's Army TV series exhibits.

I spent half a day at Bressingham, which didn't really do the museum and the gardens full justice. There is more than enough for all the family to see and do, whether the sun is shining or the weather turns wet (which it did for a while during my visit). I fully intend to return and fill in some of the gaps where I was unable to spend sufficient time exploring such things as the signal box and its simulated signalling system and watch more of the archive films which accompany some of the exhibits such as that devoted to the Travelling Post Office (TPO).


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