Charles Burrell Museum Thetford – Steam Engines Brought to Life
The Charles Burrell Museum opened in 1991 within the former Burrell, grade II listed, Paint Shop in Minstergate, Thetford. We are run by volunteers and funded through kind donations. Our museum is a former paint shop of Charles Burrell & Sons, builders of steam traction engines, agricultural machinery, steam lorries and steam tram engines. By 1875 Burrells were the largest manufacturers of traction engines in the world. We help tell the long story of how they were once Thetford’s main employer until the business closed in 1928.
Charles Burrell Museum Opening Times
The Charles Burrell Museum Thetford closes during the coronavirus Covid 19 pandemic – so please check here to find out our opening times.
Streamers Cafe Charles Burrell Museum Thetford
Steamer’s Cafe is a small, volunteer run cafe located within the Charles Burrell Museum. Although the cafe itself is situated on the top floor of the building we do have seating areas downstairs & our staff are happy to take your order & deliver your food directly to your table should you require it. Along with hot & cold drinks we always have a selection of homemade cakes on offer, plus our ever popular cheese or bacon toasties. We also cater for customers that require Gluten Free options as well as Vegetarians & Vegans. All our staff have a Safer Food Handling certificate to a minimum of level 2 & we take great pride in the quality of the food we serve. Please be aware, we stop serving hot food half an hour before closing time.
The Charles Burrell Family
Charles Burrell and Sons were very much a family business with several operations involved at all levels. in this outline of the family’s history only these directly involved in the company are mentioned. The family tree provides a more complete picture of the family. As it has so far been impossible to prove the actual founder of the company, our history begins with the three Burrell Brothers; Joseph, born in 1758, William, born in 1766 and James, born in 1769. By the early 19th Century the three brothers were in business as agricultural engineers advertising a range of machinery including drill roles, dressing engines, drill machines, threshing machines and chaff engines. In 1803, all the brothers were married. Joseph married Mary Pooley and James married Elizabeth Pryke at a double wedding ceremony in December. William married Catherine Howard in the same year. William Burrell died in 1822 and Joseph died in 1831, leaving James to continue the business.
James and Elizabeth had five children, two of whom, James born 1804 and Charles, born in 1817, went into the manufacturing of agricultural machinery. James senior died in 1837 at the age of 68 and it would appear from newspaper advertisements of the period that his sons James and Charles were competing for business. Charles, however, already an accomplished engineer at the age of 20, assumed control of the family firm. His brother James appeared to have made several unsuccessful attempts to make a going concern of his agricultural engineering and iron founding business.
The Charles Burrell Museum is housed in Burrells [Museum] original paint shop and tells the story of the Charles Burrell Works – Charles Burrell was a Thetford business that once employed 350 plus people and supplied beautiful and reliable steam-powered engines throughout the UK and the world. We are now running solely from donations and support from the Trustees and Volunteers. Burrells built traction engines, agricultural machinery, steam trucks wagons and tram engines and were thriving until the internal combustion engine took over from steam power.
Charles Burrell Museum Thetford displays include fine engines and agricultural machinery alongside recreations of parts of the original works such as the foundry and the machine shop. The Charles Burrell engines included: Queen Mary Engine – Queen Mary was built in 1920, her reg is No BR 1498 – 8NHP Double Crank Compound Showmans Road Locomotive, Her working pressure is 200psi, cylinder bores 6″ * 11.5 x 12″, The diameter of her wheels are Front- 4’11”, rear 6’6″, Her original colours are painted Lake and Yellow, The overall length of the engine was 22’3″ and the width across the rear wheels was 8’81”, The engine can cover between 12 and 16 miles between water stops, The engine was completed on 03/05/1920. The Burrell Traction Engine, The Charles Burrell Roller Engine.
Charles Burrell Museum is a great family day out and a fine Norfolk attraction to do things with the kids in Norfolk.
Covid 19 measures are now relaxing and we hope to see you soon
Mention you found us on Visit Breckland.
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