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Thursford Steam Museum

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Thursford Museum New Hall - 09 - IMG 6759

The 'new' Thursford Fantasy Land Hall

The Thursford Collection is a Charitable trust endowed museum, located in Thursford, Norfolk. Founded by local man George Cushing, its is now known for the scale of collection of steam engines, organs and fairground attractions; and its annual Christmas spectacular show, which draws over 100,000 people to the Norfolk each year.

George CushingEdit

George Thomas Henry Cushing was born at Thursford on March 25, 1904, the son of a farm labourer. After leaving school aged 12, he became a farmhand, but had developed a childhood fascination with steam engines. In 1920 he travelled to the King's Lynn Mart, and got a job driving a steam roller. Having bought a 1913 Aveling and Porter roller from the local council with savings of £225, Cushing set up his own sub-contracting business, which had expanded to 15 steam rollers and a steam wagon by World War II.[1]

Laurel farmEdit

By the late 1930s, steam was on the wain from commercial usage as diesel lorries became more popular. To Cushing, it was "As though the crown jewels were being sold for scrap", and he began to buy up redundant steam engines, storing and then restoring them at Laurel Farm, where he had worked as a child and now owned. This was also where he raised his own family of three boys with his wife Minnie.[1]

Thursford museumEdit

As Cushing's collection grew, more enthusiasts travelled to Thursford to help restore and then view his collection. Thus, in the 1970s Cushing opened his museum in what was a series of old farm shed's, and would personally tour the audience between exhibits, most often dressed in a countryman's flat cap, tweed jacket and muffler over baggy jumper, trousers and gumboots. He would then shake each visitors hand, and ask departing guests with a blunt "Did yer loik it, then?"[1]

The original museum had limited opening times, but Cushing expanded the attraction to include a gift shop and tea rooms, and opened seven days a week during the summer season. In 1982 he co-wrote, with Ian Starsmore "Steam at Thursford;" and for the scale of his efforts in saving much of Britain's steam heritage, Cushing was appointed an MBE in 1989.[1]

Thursford collectionEdit

Thursford Winter Womderland set - 09 - IMG 6883

A Scene from the Winter Wonderland tour (2008 season)

On the death of his wife Minnie, Cushing realised his collection could be subject to death duties should he pass away, and so set up the Thursford Collection as a trust endowed charity, now run by his son, which alone attracts 170,000 visitors a year. George Cushing died on February 26, 2003.[1]

The collection today includes a Mighty Wurlitzer which is the fourth-largest in Europe and has a total of 1,339 pipes. There is also a 2 ft narrow gauge railway and a 19th-century gondola merry-go-round which was built in the Norfolk factory of Frederick Savage. The merry-go-round is decorated with carved heads depicting Queen Victoria and her family, including the German Kaiser Wilhelm II. The collection and museum is also famous for its popular summer and winter shows. The annual Christmas "Spectaculars" attract coachloads of devotees from around the country and must be booked months in advance.

The EnginesEdit

The collection of engines runs to over ? with the majority Steam rollers, but with several fine examples of Showman's Engines and a few Steam Tractors and a pair of rare Ploughing Engines.

2010 SaleEdit

In July 2010 it emerged that the collection was proposing to sell some of the collection via auctioneers Cheffins.[2] The Ten (10) engines believed to be being offered for dale are in effect the reserve collection from the Yard at the Farm. The proposed sale has had mixed reception from the steam world with some believing the sale will devalue the collections integrity. Others feel that it will provide an opportunity for new owners to get an engine and that bring more engines back to life is beneficial to the preservation movement. The trust has been criticised for allowing the engines to slowly deteriorate as they were stored outside, so some see it as a reaction to that, will others believe that due to the number of engines in the overall collection they would never be restored anyway. Any engines sold will create great interest due to their provenance, but any purchaser will need deep pockets as they need complete rebuilds.

The sale also includes over 200 lots of Aveling & Porter spare parts many being acquired by Mr Cushing during his contracting days and as the steam era ended and being brand new parts direct from the factory or the A&P agents. This will be a rare opportunity to obtain genuine parts for A&P engines.

List of engines in the collectionEdit

Make & Engine No. Year built Type Name Reg No. Image Notes
Aveling & Porter no. 8169 1913 Tractor - KT 998 -
Aveling & Porter no. 8178 1914 Tractor - PU 700
Aveling & Porter no. 8200 1914 Convertible Tractor - AH 0778 to add bought by GT Cushing for £225 in 1930
Aveling & Porter no. 8890 1916 Ploughing ZTD Field Marshall Haig DO 1943 Aveling & Porter no. 8890 plg Field Marshall Haig - DO 1943 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6830 ex Chatterton & Cooke of Deeping St. Nichols, Lincolnshire
Aveling & Porter no. 8891 1916 Ploughing ZTD General Byng DO 1944 Aveling & Porter no. 8891 plg General Byng DO 1944 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6824 Pair with A & P no. 8890
Aveling & Porter no. 9010 1919 Tractor Jimmy AP 9235 Aveling & Porter no. 9010 - Cylinder and plate - Thursford 09 - IMG 6854
Aveling & Porter no. 9036 1919 Convertible Tractor - BP 6065 Aveling & orter no. 9036 CT - BP 6065 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6783
Aveling & Porter no. 9149 1920 Road Loco - KE 2202 Aveling & Porter no. 9149 - Info board in Thursford 09 - IMG 6780 owned by GT Cushing since 1959
Engine photo required
Aveling & Porter no. 10003 1921 Tractor - AH 6130 Image needed LHB In the workshop (April 2009)
Aveling & Porter no. 10324 1922 Roller - NO 5898 to add
Aveling & Porter no. 10341 1923 Tractor - PW 623 Image needed LHB in yard
Aveling & Porter no. 10342 1922 Tractor - NO 5896 Image needed LHB in yard
Aveling & Porter no. 10345 1922 Tractor - NO 5893 Image needed LHB in yard
Aveling & Porter no. 10347 1922 Roller - NO 5891 to add Ex Essex CC
Aveling & Porter no. 10415 1922 Tractor - ME 5770 Aveling & porter no. 19415 - RR - ME 5770 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6849 fitted with Scarifier
Aveling & Porter no. 10437 1922 ? Convertible Tractor - OS 1314 Aveling & porter no. 10437 CT OS 1314 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6880 Full photo unavailable due to winter wonderland setting
Aveling & Porter no. 10456 1922 Convertible - NO 7239 to add
Aveling & Porter 10675 1923 Tractor - PR 6710
Aveling & Porter 10755 1924 Road Roller - PD 1510 Aveling & Porter no. 10755 RR PT 1510 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6838
Aveling & Porter no. 10780 1923 Tractor - PR 1392 Image needed LHB in yard
Aveling & Porter no. 10785 1923 Convertible - PD 7738 to add
Aveling & Porter no. 11205 1925 Roller - MO 5545?
Aveling & Porter no. 11322 1925 Roller Castra PT6445 to add fitted with scarifier
Aveling & Porter no. 11454 1926 Tractor - PE 9234 Image needed LHB in yard
Aveling & Porter no. 11822 1927 Tractor - UF 1934 Image needed LHB in yard
Aveling & Porter no. 11918 1927 Convertible - YT 4531 to add
Aveling & Porter no. 11980 1927 Convertible Bert DY 4878 to add
Aveling & Porter no. 12181 1928 Roller Cheryl DW 6156 to add
Aveling & Porter no. 12186 1928 Tractor Annie Laurie PK 2684 Aveling & Porter no. 12186 tractor Annie Laurie - PK 2684 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6771 Cast wheels
Ex Kent CC
Aveling & Porter no. 12205 1928 Tractor - VF 4393 Image needed LHB in yard
Aveling & Porter no. 14008 1929 Roller - VG 2269/NO 5898
Aveling & Porter no. 14137 1931 Tractor - TM 9357 Image needed LHB in yard
Aveling & Porter 14163 1934 Roller - MJ 4597 Aveling & Porter no. 14163 - RR - MJ 4597 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6886 Displayed with living Van shown below and a water cart.
Burrell no. 2780 1905 Showman's Rod Loco King Edward VII CL 4300 Burrell no. 2780 - SRL King Edward VII - CL 4300 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6942
Burrell no. 3075 1909 Showmans Tractor Alexandra CL 4301 Burrell no. 3075 Showmans Tractor - CL 4301 - Alexandra in Thursford 09 - IMG 6918
Burrell no. 3200 1910 Showmans Tractor Unity CL 4296 Burrell no. 3200 SRL Unity - CL 4296 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6789
Burrell no. 3827 1920 Showmans Tractor Victory CL 4299 Burrell no. 3827 SRL - Victory - CL 4299 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6926
Burrell no. 3850 1920 Convertible - AH 0775 Burrell no. 3850 - CRR - AH 0775 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6844
Burrell no. 4045 1926 Tractor - PW 8878 Burrell no. 4045 TE - PW 8878 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6895
Burrell no. 4081 1927 Traction engine Fearless RT 5104 Burrell no. 4081 TE - Fearless - RT 5104 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6796 5th to last engine built
Clayton & Shuttleworth no. 48308 1919 Wagon - FE 2754
Clayton & Shuttleworth no. 49105 1924 Traction - TL 555 Clayton & Shuttleworth no. 49105 TE - TL555 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6903 one of the youngest survivors from C&S
Clayton Wagons T1136 1929 Wagon - VG 1825 Clayton Wagon no T1136 - VG 1825 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6809 A unique example only survivor
Foden no. 13358 1929 Tractor Victor DF 8187 Foden no. 13358 Tractor DF 8187 at Thursford 09 - IMG 6762 Late model steam timber tractor
Garrett no. 33902 1920 Showmans Tractor Medina BJ 5340 Garrett no. 33902 - ST - Medina - BJ 5340 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6943
Garrett no. 34187 1922 Traction Engine Kathleen AH 9623 Garrett no. 34187 TE Kathleen AH 9623 in thursford 09 - IMG 6874
Marshall no. 79108 1925 Roller Poppyland PW 5042 Marshall no. 79108 RR - Poppyland - PW5042 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6908 Fitted with a John Allen Patent Scarifier
Ruston Proctor no. 39872  ? Traction engine - RT 1487 Ruston Proctor no. 39872 TE RT 1487 in Thursford 09 - IMG 6859
Savage no. 418 1887 Organ Engine - - to add
Savage no. 421 1887 Centre Engine - - Savage no. 421 centre engine at Thursford 09 - IMG 6767 On static display
Savage no. 449 1888 Organ Engine - - to add
Savage no. 740 1898 Centre Engine - - to add (turned by electricity)
Savage no. 762 1900 Centre Engine Enterprise - Savage no. 762 - Centre Engine - Thursford 09 - IMG 6961
Savage no. 763 1900 Organ Engine - - to add

Other exhibitsEdit

Aveling & Porter living Van - Thursford 09 - IMG 6885

A Aveling and Porter Living Van

The museum also has a collection of other exhibits in addition to the Engines.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "George Cushing". The Telegraph (2003-03-21). Retrieved on 2008-05-06.
  2. Traction Talk post - Thursford sale

External linksEdit



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