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

09:19 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

17 comments

  • @ J.R. Hartley. this engine (and 90% of road going traction engines - steam roller's excepted) are fitted on solid rubber tires) This engine is even fully sprung and dose a lot less damage to any road service, than 40ton Arctic's, with super single tires on their trailers, or speeding motorist's who are very heavy with the accelerator peddle, making their tires dig into (what is mostly these days) loosely dressed road surfaces. Steam rollers, all be it slow, and while leaving scuff marks, can actually IMPROVE the road's structure, compacting the road dressing, which becomes lose over time as it becomes damaged by CAR tires. Why should vehicles, that only cover at most a few hundred miles a year, and probably only using the highway around 10 times a year, have to pay the same tax as you in your car, which bring little or no benefit to chartable courses, or enjoyment to anyone and is most likely out and about on the public roads most days of the year. Steam traction engines are a huge benefit to chartable courses, and bring unmeasurable enjoyment to countless by attend shows and events through out the year, pleasing Tens of Thousands of spectators. Environmentally, it is greener to steam your engine on the road, than use a low loader lorry, which normally have to be hired in at great expense You should note, Steam Powered Vehicles, Historic Vehicles, Agricultural Vehicles, Electrically powered vehicles, and Pedestrian vehicles are all among the many types of vehicle on the road's where the licence fee is set at £NIL. Steam powered vehicles are also except from congestion charges, and emission zone restrictions.

    Report this comment

    Jaames Peter Brett

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014

  • @KeithS. The Police need to ask no questions at all regarding why this engine was on the A11. It had every legal right to be there, and is of no more inconvenience that a farm tractor. At Norfolk John, Your comment dose sound a foolish one. Duel carriage ways offer greater safe passage for all vehicles. Faster vehicles can over take slower ones safely. Some times (in the case of travelling from Thetford to Weeting) there is no other way than to cross the A11. The only roads that currently require a minimum speed limit is some motorways (normally set at 30mph).

    Report this comment

    Jaames Peter Brett

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014

  • There is a lot of people who need to go away and get their facts right regarding these comments. The story has been overly inflated by its press coverage, and other than some inconvenience to some motorist's, no one was hurt, and no other vehicle was involved. The same problems would have arose if a Lorry had a mechanical breakdown in the same spot, yet would have hardly been worth a passing comment. THE ENGINE WAS FULLY TAXED, LICENSED AND INSURED and as such had every legal right to be used on the road.

    Report this comment

    Jaames Peter Brett

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014

  • I wonder if it fell foul of one of the many potholes that appear to be an unwanted feature of our roads these days.?

    Report this comment

    mjc

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

  • What a lot of miseries there is around! These engines provide fascination to thousands of people at shows and have every right to be on the road: being pe-1960 no MOT (!) needed - who could MOT it anyway: doubtless fully insured and with boiler test certificate and permitted driver. Most unfortunate happening but take cheer - you'll never see a similar incident in your lifetime....! Please, you 'white line walking' spoilsports, be happy riding in your tin can and don't ever think of owning a classic vehicle, and don't go to any country shows.

    Report this comment

    308GT4

    Monday, October 27, 2014

  • Heaven help us J R Hartley if roads can't take and cope with the the "occasional" steam engine ! Which I have to say pre-date metaled roads in many cases.

    Report this comment

    Responsible parent

    Monday, October 27, 2014

  • Good old Norfolk John, i'm guessing you would of been happy to be behind the lorry with the broken down engine on a single lane carriageway doing 40 mph..oh and by the way it was not on a duel carriageway just crossing it.

    Report this comment

    greenmanwalking

    Sunday, October 26, 2014

  • I am sorry to say I was amused to read about the unfortunate break down of the steam engine .......... only half an hour after one of the museums committee members had informed me that 'It hasn't had any restoration work it is exactly as it was in the day' How right he was!

    Report this comment

    caroline jacobs

    Sunday, October 26, 2014

  • What there should be (and I noticed there is in a few parts of the new bits of A11) is a full blown cycle, bridle and walking route beside the A11-when bypasses and trunk roads are created or improved the old and safer routes for non motorised vehicles get cut up and lost, making the use of trunk and non trunk roads alike difficult, even at a local level, for those not in cars. Path surfacse dont need much depth of foundation or tarmac .

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Sunday, October 26, 2014

  • If the museum was satisfied that the traction engine was ok to be on the roads it had every right to be there. I am about as young as you can get that can remember them coming with a threshing machine and trundling through our lanes-they are part of our heritage. And rather one of them on the A11 than middle aged men in Audis trying to prove what ***** they are.

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    Daisy Roots

    Sunday, October 26, 2014

  • If it is Taxed and Insured then it haps every right to be on the road. Very unfortunate about the breakdown, but other "modern" vehicles can break down too or get involved in accidents. I am sorry some people were delayed, but things could have been worse. It is wonderful to see these vehicles in use.

    Traction Engine on the coast road near Newcastle County Down

    Report this comment

    David Heatley

    Saturday, October 25, 2014

  • Some people like a bit of negative camber.

    Report this comment

    GoodRockinDaddy

    Saturday, October 25, 2014

  • Every right to be on the road and good luck to them!

    Report this comment

    marty r

    Saturday, October 25, 2014

  • As an engine driver I can tell you that it is sometimes actually safer and more practical to transport road engines under their own steam by road than it is to go by lorry. I hope they get Queen Mary here fixed again in time for next years season.

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    Ryan Coombes

    Saturday, October 25, 2014

  • Keiths you do make me laugh, a gracious engine like that shouldn't be on the road especially a main road? Like responsible parent said far more engines on the road that shouldn't be. Would of made a very boring car chase though.

    Report this comment

    Sayitlikeitis

    Saturday, October 25, 2014

  • Was held up in the traffic on way home from work, cursing along the way,but when I saw what it was it made my day...beautiful things to see wherever they are.

    Report this comment

    greenmanwalking

    Saturday, October 25, 2014

  • A nonsense comment Keith S. They are perfectly entitled to be on the road, full stop. There are a lot of vehicles that are not looked after which ought not be on the road far more than one steam powered engine !!

    Report this comment

    Responsible parent

    Saturday, October 25, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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Andy Russell

Andy Russell

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

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