Charles Burrell Museum makes plea for volunteers to help keep heritage alive

Charles Burrell Museum volunteers with agricultural engine Aggie. Pictured left to right: Gail Towns

Charles Burrell Museum volunteers with agricultural engine Aggie. Pictured left to right: Gail Townsend, Sandy Collin, Pete Collin, Derek Antrobus and dog volunteer Archie. Picture: Rebecca Murphy - Credit: Archant

A museum which celebrates the heritage of Thetford is issuing a plea for volunteers.

An open day at the Charles Burrell museum in Thetford.
Picture Sonya Duncan

An open day at the Charles Burrell museum in Thetford. Picture Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

During its prime, steam engine producer Charles Burrell and Sons employed 350 people from Thetford and surrounding areas.

The works closed in 1928 and in 1991, the Charles Burrell Museum was opened in the former paint shop on Minstergate.

A popular attraction, the museum sees visitors come from around the world to take a look at the traction and agricultural engines and the marquee show engine the Queen Mary.

It is run entirely by volunteers, from the engineering team to the café. But senior volunteer Derek Antrobus has said for the museum to continue to share the town's rich history, more people are needed.

The Charles Burrell Museum's Queen Mary. Picture: Sonya Duncan

The Charles Burrell Museum's Queen Mary. Picture: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2015


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The 80-year-old has been a volunteer for 25 years and his daughter Gail Townsend is also a volunteer.

He said: 'This place helped to put Thetford on the map because these machines went all over the world. It is the heritage of Thetford and for it to decline in my view would be a real tragedy.

'I feel really passionate about this place because without these machines here, how would young people know about our history?'

The museum is open on Tuesdays, from 10am until 2pm, and Saturdays, from 10am until 3pm, between April and October.

Anyone with an interest in steam engines, engineering or who would like to learn more can volunteer. There is no need to have a good knowledge of Charles Burrell.

Currently there are six volunteers on the floor team, which includes meet-and-greeters and those who work in the café, as well as five on the engineering team.

Sandy and Pete Collin have been volunteers for a year and they bring along volunteer dog nine-month-old Archie. Their son James and daughter-in-law Jess are part of the engineering team.

'It is a really friendly bunch of people who all muck in together,' said Mrs Collin. 'We just would not run without volunteers.

'We get steam enthusiasts from all over the world. And we get local people who come in again and again and bring their children. It is nice to build up a connection.'

To find out more about volunteering, call Derek Antrobus on 07881686419 or visit Charles Burrell Museum

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