Fundraising help needed to save Stowmarket agricultural engine

The Empress of Britain in action. Picture: MICHAEL JAMES STAMPER

The Empress of Britain in action. Picture: MICHAEL JAMES STAMPER - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk steam engine is looking for donations to help keep its wheels turning.

The Empress of Britain, is an agricultural steam traction engine built in Thetford, Norfolk in 1912 and currently housed at the Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket.

In 2016 the engine failed its boiler inspection meaning that it was unable to take part in this year’s season of events.

The group of volunteers who look after the engine have begun fundraising to raise the money needed for the restorations needed to help bring the Edwardian engine back to life.

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 the 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.”

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Volunteers were able to secure a £16,500 grant from the Association of Industrial Archaeology to fulfill the majority of the money required.

“The Association for Industrial Archaeology is delighted to be able to grant aid the refit the boiler of the Empress of Britain in this the 50th anniversary year of the Museum of East Anglia Life,” said Keith Falconer OBE, chairman of the AIA.

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“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. Through the generosity of two anonymous donors, the AIA Restoration Grant scheme makes such involvement possible for this and for many other, similarly wonderful, projects around the UK.”

Despite this generous donation the project still needs £4000 to make up the rest of the money. need to complete the restoration.

The museum has set up a crowdfunding page on the website Just Giving where members of the public can show their support for the project.

More information about the museum’s Just Giving fundraiser can be found here:

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