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Forncett Industrial Steam Museum

Wednesday 14th September 2016

It was during a mini heat wave in September that Ipswich Engineering Society made a late afternoon and evening visit to Forncett Industrial Steam Museum in the village of Forncett St Mary, Norfolk. The Engineering Society had exclusive access to the Museum at this time and had arranged with the Museum that the exhibits would be steamed and working during the visit.

We were treated to a guided tour around the museum by Dr Rowan Francis who had founded the museum in 1970 and some of the volunteers who help keep the museum working. The museum contains a wide range of steam engines, which we were able to see working, Dr Francis talked about the history of each engine as we watched it operating and explained the important features of the engine. These engines have had varied working lives, including beam engines for pumping water, other engines driving pumps for fluids as diverse as water, vinegar and gas, an engine used to raise Tower Bridge in London, engines that drove machinery in workshops and one a lace factory in Nottingham.

The visit included access to the Boiler Room where we saw an ex Norwich prison boiler being operated by one of the volunteers, this provided the steam during our visit. The museum also has two other boilers in the Boiler Room.

We also were able to see the Engineer's workshop containing its own steam engine, driving a flat belt and pulley system used to drive the lathes, drilling machines, a shaping machine, powered hacksaw, threading machine and a shearing and punching machine. We were able to see each of these machines being powered up during the visit, again key features and some history of the workshop machinery was talked about as we watched each operate in turn.

The visit rounded off with some refreshments in the Gallery whilst watching the Hopwas Beam engine operating under steam. Ipswich Engineering Society would like to thank the museum for providing a friendly welcome and an excellent visit.

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