Museum of East Anglian Life wins grant to help restore steam engine

A much-loved steam engine is a step closer to being restored thanks to a £16,500 grant.

The Empress of Britain, the Museum of East Anglian Life’s well-used steam engine, has been out of action for nearly a year, but this week was thrown a lifeline by the Association of Industrial Archaeology (AIA).

The Stowmarket museum successfully applied to the AIA for a £16,500 grant towards the restoration of the Empress, after she failed her boiler inspection at the end of 2016.

That took her out of action for the 2017 season and left the museum with the task of raising funds towards the extensive restoration work needed.

Lisa Harris, collections and interpretation manager at the museum, said: “The Empress of Britain is the museum’s showcase steam traction engine and we can’t wait to see her in action once again.

“Whether demonstrating traditional farming techniques, such as steam threshing and chaff cutting, being part of Stowmarket Carnival, or taking centre stage at our hands-on driver training experiences, the sight, smell and whirr of the Empress helps us bring our region’s heritage to life.”

The Empress, which was made by Charles Burrell and Sons of Thetford in 1912, is a general purpose agricultural steam traction engine.

Keith Falconer, of the AIA, said: “The Association for Industrial Archaeology is delighted to be able to grant aid the refit the boiler of the Empress of Britain.

“The AIA has long been a champion of the involvement of volunteers in the restoration and operation of historic machinery and The Empress embodies just such dedicated involvement.”

The museum still needs to raise £4,000 towards the restoration and has launched a fund at www.justgiving.com/ campaigns/charity/museum ofeastanglianlife/empress ofbritain

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