274 Year Old Fire Engine Given To Museum Of East Anglian Life

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 08 August 2008
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a photograph of w ooden trolley like vehicle with small wheels and a pump device set into its body

It might not look like much but this little contraption was Stowmarket's first ever fire engine.

This weekend the Museum of East Anglian Life at Stowmarket will take delivery of the very first fire engine used in the town 274 years ago.

Originally presented to Stowmarket in 1734 by Nathaniel Gordon, the small but effective wooden ‘engine’ was in use up until 1885.

Until recently, it was innocuously displayed at Stowmarket Fire Station. It is hoped that by moving it to the museum both visitors and school groups will get the chance to learn about this important part of the town's history.

“This is a really exciting object for us and will be one of the oldest exhibits in the museum collection,” said Lisa Harris, Collections Manager.

“Considering its age, it’s possible that this was one of the engines that helped put out the fires when the Stowmarket Gun Cotton Factory exploded on the 11th August 1871 - almost 137 years ago to the day! That’s real local history for you.”

a photo of a wooden vehicle

The engine will be given to the Museum of East Anglian Life on August 10 2008.

The delivery, which takes place on Sunday August 10 2008, coincides with the museum’s second Steam & Traditional Crafts Weekend.

It is planned that the engine will be towed through the town as part of a short procession of commercial vehicles, hopefully including the current Stowmarket Fire Engine, at around 2pm on Sunday afternoon.

The old fire engine will then be officially handed over to the museum at 2:30pm as a late arrival for the Steam and Traditional Crafts Weekend.

The Museum of East Anglian Life Steam and Craft Weekend takes place on August 10 and 11 2008 and includes demonstrations of local crafts including spinners, weavers and blacksmiths. There will be a variety of locally-owned steam engines in steam around the site.

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