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Norfolk steam museum gets starring role in Channel 5 documentary

PUBLISHED: 13:38 21 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:31 21 May 2020

Bressingham Steam and Gardens, near Diss, is the focus of new Channel 5 documentary 'Inside the Steam Train Museum'. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Bressingham Steam and Gardens, near Diss, is the focus of new Channel 5 documentary 'Inside the Steam Train Museum'. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

One of Norfolk’s favourite tourist attractions is the focus of a Channel 5 documentary set to air later this month.

Bressingham Steam and Gardens, near Diss, is the focus of new Channel 5 documentary 'Inside the Steam Train Museum'. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYBressingham Steam and Gardens, near Diss, is the focus of new Channel 5 documentary 'Inside the Steam Train Museum'. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

‘Inside the Steam Train Museum’, featuring Bressingham Steam and Gardens, near Diss, is being broadcast to the nation for the first time at 7pm on Thursday, May 28.

The programme will showcase day-to-day ups and downs, and follow some of the endearing characters whose efforts over the years have ensured the museum stays on the right track.

In episode one of the four-part series, the museum has a new volunteer named Phil, who must get to grips with how to drive a steam engine.

A Channel 5 synopsis of the first instalment says: “New volunteer Phil learns how to drive a steam engine despite doubting his abilities.

Alastair Baker, manager at Bressingham Steam and Gardens, near Diss, has said the attraction may not reopen due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Sonya DuncanAlastair Baker, manager at Bressingham Steam and Gardens, near Diss, has said the attraction may not reopen due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Sonya Duncan

“Brian, the museum’s carpenter, repairs a golden cockerel for the Victorian gallopers and struggles when it comes to fitting it.

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“A steam locomotive is restored to full working order in time for a special event and the volunteers hitch a ride on some traction engines into the local town for a celebratory beer.”

The story of Bressingham in its current form began in 1946, when Alan Bloom purchased Bressingham Hall. Within a decade he had established the successful gardens and nursery business which remains today.

Bressingham Steam and Gardens, near Diss, is the focus of new Channel 5 documentary 'Inside the Steam Train Museum'. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYBressingham Steam and Gardens, near Diss, is the focus of new Channel 5 documentary 'Inside the Steam Train Museum'. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But Mr Bloom had a growing passion for trains and, in 1961, he purchased his first traction engine - a Burrell model called Bertha.

By 1962 he had collected 14 engines and, three years later, the first of the narrow-gauage railway tracks was laid on the estate, creating the 2ft Garden Railway which opened in 1966.

Over the years, the attraction has become one of Norfolk’s most popular days out and currently boasts four railway lines winding through magnificent gardens.

But its status as a charity, the Bressingham Steam Preservation Trust, means the ongoing coronavirus crisis has ruined the peak summer season and left its future in doubt.

Bressingham Steam and Gardens, near Diss, is the focus of new Channel 5 documentary 'Inside the Steam Train Museum'. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYBressingham Steam and Gardens, near Diss, is the focus of new Channel 5 documentary 'Inside the Steam Train Museum'. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A ‘COVID-19 Survival Fund’ has therefore been launched to help save the museum, which relies solely on income from visitors, and ensure it can reopen once permitted to do so.

To make a donation, visit the Bressingham Steam and Gardens website.


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