Home found for old Harleston fire engine

12:45 08 October 2012

Judy Alder and Mervyn Hickford of Harleston Museum with an 18th-century fire engine which served the town.

Judy Alder and Mervyn Hickford of Harleston Museum with an 18th-century fire engine which served the town.


A temporary home has been found for an 18th-century fire engine after a museum launched an appeal for somewhere to renovate it.

Harleston Museum curator Judy Alder discovered the hand-pump Bristow engine in Norwich about three years ago and launched an appeal earler this year when a new home for it had to be found.

Thanks to her appeal, several people came forward with space to store the engine and it was transported from Bressingham Steam Museum to its new temporary home on Saturday, September 29.

“Several people offered places, but the place it’s gone to is an ideal location,” said Mrs Alder, who was joined by assistant curator Mervyn Hickford and museum helper Peter Dulieu for the big day.

“I’m so pleased – we’ve actually got it after all these years. It’s a big part of Harleston’s history and finally it’s come home. We’re delighted.”

She said the next stage was to look over the engine in detail, see exactly what renovation work was required and then apply for the funding to do it.

“I’ve got ideas for big celebrations when it’s renovated and we find a place in Harleston where we can display it properly – what we really need is a bigger museum,” she added.

She is researching the history of the fire engine, which appears to start when local notable John Kerrich decided the town should have one and set about collecting donations.

The engine was made by John Bristow in London then transported by water via Great Yarmouth, then Bungay and by road to Harleston in 1765, and a resident remembers seeing it in the town in the 1930s.

Mrs Alder rediscovered the engine about three years ago at the Bridewell Museum in Norwich, which wanted to make space for city exhibits.

However, Harleston’s museum is too small, so it went to Bressingham until the steam museum decided the fire engine no longer fitted in with its collection.

So, earlier this year Mrs Alder launched her appeal and last month it was transported to its new home, at an undisclosed location, by local father and son team Arthur and Tim Peck.


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