back to visits

How Steam Works March 2011

The March meeting was a talk looking at steam engines. Our speaker for the evening was David Blackburn of the Charles Burrell Museum in Thetford. The evening was split into two parts. The first part of the evening was a look at steam engines of the past, as might be expected this was biased towards Charles Burrell’s engines. There was a company history beginning with the company set up by Joseph Burrell in 1770 through to the closure of the Charles Burrell works in 1928. We learnt how that at the turn of the 19th to 20th century that Burrell’s were producing two traction engines per week and that at their peak that they employed about a ¼ of the population of Thetford and during their time as an engine manufacturer produced over 4000 engines. The various applications of traction engines was covered including agricultural use i.e. ploughing, threshing etc, transport towing wagons hauling up to 30/40 tons at a time, as well as road rollers, showman’s engines and steam lorries.The second part of the evening was an audience participation exercise in demonstrating the constituent parts of a steam engine and their effects and finally we finished off with a demonstration of a model steam engine working.

Steam Roller Showman Engine Traction Engine Period Photo