Leiston: Museum opening draws in huge crowd

AN eager crowd gathered in Leiston this weekend for the reopening of the town’s ever-popular Long Shop Museum.

The museum, which stands on the original Garrett Works factory site, welcomed several generations of the manufacturing family for a look back at 200 years of industrial history.

More than 800 people turned out for an open day to see the recently fully restored Aveling and Porter shunting locomotive Sirapite in steam, as well as several scale model steam engines.

There was a performance by the Leiston British Legion Band which included two marches with a Leiston theme - one called Sirapite and the other Main Street.

Suffolk MP Therese Coffey officially opened the museum and trustee Andrew Paris announced the award of �123,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help restore the Long Shop.

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Among guests to attend a lunch in the Leiston Town Athletic Association hall were more than 90 Garrett family members - descendants of Richard Garrett (Leiston) and Newson Garrett (Aldeburgh) - who were all reunited for the weekend.

The Friends of the Long Shop Museum helped staff the event and raise funds for the museum by providing refreshments in a specially themed tea room in the work shop.

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An exhibition of small quilts designed and made by local people hung in the Garrett Room, where it will remain this week.

The museum is now open every day until October 31 and currently features the ‘Inspired by Industry and Garretts’ quilt exhibition, which runs until Sunday, April 10.

Museum Manager Stephen Mael said: “It was a wonderful day, a great start to the season and a marvellous way to celebrate Leiston’s Industrial Heritage.

“It is really good that so many local people took the chance to see what’s new in the Museum and a see those really imaginative quilts.”

Garrett & Sons manufactured farming machinery, steam engines and trolleybuses at the Leiston Works between 1778 and the late twentieth century.

In 1806 the factory produced the first horse-power threshing machine and, 34 years later, became one of the first manufacturers to exhibit a steam threshing machine.

At its peak the Town Works covered between 20 and 30 acres, and was equipped with hydraulic, pneumatic, and electrical power transmission and with modern tools.

The Long Shop Museum is open Mondays to Saturdays from 10am to 5pm, and on Sundays from 11am to 5pm.

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