The Strumpshaw Hall Steam Museum in Strumpshaw, Norfolk is home to a collection of Traction engines, Steam rollers, a Showman's engine and a Steam wagon which are run on special occasions and on the last Sunday of each month from April to October. It is believed to be the largest collection of steam Engines in the UK. The existing house was built in 1835 by Thomas Tuck. The two storey property is built of red brick on a rendered base, featuring three bays enclosing sash windows, topped by a hipped slate roof and two chimneys. Within the central bay, extended by a pediment, it features a Doric porch. The main house was added to in the Victorian era with a lower two-storey service wing, which is three windows wide. The collection was started privately by Wesley Key, and his family still own the hall, grounds and most of the exhibits. Key eventually opened his collection to the public, initially on open days and latterly as a museum, which still opens between April and October.
The main collection is housed in an extended area of the former farm on the estate, together with some redeveloped outbuildings and a specially developed extension. Internally the collection includes a diverse collection of mobile and stationary industrial and agricultural engines (the oldest being from 1898), mostly powered by steam alongside some early internal combustion engines. There is a fairground and theatre collection, which includes a large Christie Wonder Organ. The museum has the last surviving example of a Garret type of Traction Engine still in service, a working Steam Wagon, a Ploughing Traction Engine with a Threshing machine, and an old plough with the Ploughing engine. Externally the museum has a narrow gauge railway, which run on most open days. This consists of a Simplex diesel disguised as a steam engine, pulling a simple four-wheeled coach. The co-located farm has some fairground rides on site which are usually in operation and accessible to visitors. It also has a collection of rare breeds of birds.
The hall is also notable for the Oxburgh Hangings, needlework hangings by Mary, Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick. Mary worked on these while imprisoned in England, in the custody of the Earl of Shrewsbury. The Walled Garden today has two distinct areas: the vegetable garden and the orchard. Many heritage varieties of vegetables are grown each year in the kitchen garden to reflect the long history of providing food for the Hall. It supplies the tea-room with salad, vegetables, rhubarb, beetroot, potatoes and celeriac. Dominating the northern wall is the Victorian glasshouse, completely rebuilt in 2010 by volunteers and opened just in time to protect the tender plants for the winter. My Lady's Wood is an ornamental area of water and woodland created by the 6th Baronet for his wife, Margaret. It provided a tranquil semi-formal landscape with ornamental woodland, trees and shrubs, while the small bridges and summer-houses present attractive places to pause. Depending on the season you may hear robins, song thrushes, blackbirds, great-spotted woodpeckers, chiffchaffs and willow warblers. By the River Gadder look out for a water vole or even the occasional otter.
A traction engine is a self-propelled steam engine used to move heavy loads on roads, plough ground or to provide power at a chosen location. The name derives from the Latin tractus, meaning 'drawn', since the prime function of any traction engine is to draw a load behind it. They are sometimes called road locomotives to distinguish them from railway locomotives – that is, steam engines that run on rails. Traction engines tend to be large, robust and powerful, but heavy, slow, and difficult to manoeuvre. Nevertheless, they revolutionized agriculture and road haulage at a time when the only alternative prime mover was the draught horse. They became popular in industrialised countries from around 1850, when the first self-propelled portable steam engines for agricultural use were developed. Production continued well into the early part of the 20th century, when competition from internal combustion engine–powered tractors saw them fall out of favour, although some continued in commercial use in the United Kingdom well into the 1950s and later.
The collection includes (by manufacturer): Aveling and Porter – 3 Steam rollers, 2 'tractors'; Burrell – 3 Traction engines, including 1921 Princess Royal; Foden – 1 Steam waggon; John Fowler & Co. – 1 pair of Ploughing engines (15340 + 15341); Garrett – 1 Traction engine; Marshall, Sons & Co. – 5 Traction engines, 1 steam roller; Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies – Portable engine; Ruston Proctor – Traction engine; Wallis & Steevens – Traction engine. In addition there are vintage tractors by Field Marshall, International Harvester, Horizontal engines and Robey & Co. A large beam engine that was saved from a local water works is being restored An industrial tank locomotive is also in the museum's collection. This is a good museum for the visually impaired as most of the exhibits can be touched. Assistance dogs are welcome. Access by ramp onto the train. Disabled toilet. Double doors into the museum. Wheelchair Access to all areas of the museum.
Location : Old Hall, Norwich, Norfolk NR13 4HR
Transport: Buckenham (National Rail) 20 minutes. Bus Routes : No service.
Opening Times : Sundays, Bank Holidays 10:30 to 15:30
Tickets: Adults £6.00; Children (5 - 16) £2.00
Tickets Events: See the special events page
Tel: 01603 714535