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Video: The moment a steam engine broke down on A11 at Thetford, causing misery for hundreds

PUBLISHED: 09:19 27 October 2014 | UPDATED: 09:21 27 October 2014

The steam engine, Queen Mary, breaks down on the A11 at the Brandon roundabout after spending the day at teh Charles Burrell Museum.

The steam engine, Queen Mary, breaks down on the A11 at the Brandon roundabout after spending the day at teh Charles Burrell Museum.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2013

Drivers witnessed a roadside recovery more suited to 1914 than 2014 after a historic steam engine broke down on the side of the A11.

The vintage engine Queen Mary, made in 1919, was travelling from an appearance at the Charles Burrell Museum’s end-of-season event in Thetford to Fengate Farm in Weeting on Saturday night when disaster struck.

As the engine crossed the roundabout joining the A11 and A134 to Brandon at around 5pm, its front axle snapped in two, leaving it slumped helpless in the middle of the road.

Police were forced to partially close one lane of the A11 while a three-hour recovery took place, with a low-loader taking away the stricken showman’s engine.

A spokesman for the museum confirmed that the engine had suffered a broken axle and said no one had been hurt in the incident.

The steam engine, Queen Mary, breaks down on the A11 at the Brandon roundabout after spending the day at teh Charles Burrell Museum. The steam engine, Queen Mary, breaks down on the A11 at the Brandon roundabout after spending the day at teh Charles Burrell Museum.

He said the engine would now be taken away for repair by the museum’s volunteer engineers.

Visitors to the Charles Burrell Museum event had witnessed the engine in perfect working order earlier in the afternoon, with scores turning out to get a closer look.

Speaking during the event, volunteer manager John Waple said the Queen Mary was one of its star attractions. “She’s one of the oldest engines still around that’s still never been restored.

“We say she’s in her ‘working clothes’. All the engines were made here but she’s a special example,” he said.

Rules of the road

Steam engines are allowed on the public highway as long as they are taxed and insured.

Drivers must pass a Class G DVLA test, which covers any road rolling vehicle, and will appear on a driving licence until 70 years of age, when the test would have to be retaken, as with a normal licence.

The test sees the driver carry out standard procedures.

With the steamroller only travelling at around 4mph, the examiner is able to walk alongside the vehicle to assess the driver’s performance.

To see a video of the broken down engine, go to www.edp24.co.uk

Did you see the engine break down? Email andrew.fitchett@archant.co.uk

THE QUEEN MARY

The Queen Mary is a showman’s vehicle, and one of the oldest examples of an engine in its original condition, 
having never been restored.

It was built in 1919 as a plain road locomotive for haulage work.

It was bought by Richard Townsend, of Weymouth, and converted to a showman’s engine to generate electricity on fairgrounds.

Speaking at the Charles Burrell Museum open event, John Waple, the museum’s volunteer manager, said the writing on the side of the vehicle was the only thing that had been changed since it was made.

As such, engineers at the museum refer to it as being in its original working clothes.

Did you see the steam engine break down? Let us know by emailing reporter Andrew Fitchett on andrew.fitchett@archant.co.uk

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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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