Did you guess correctly? Readers solve mystery of the monster marsh machine

The picture that started it all. The mystery machine at rest. Picture: Supplied

The picture that started it all. The mystery machine at rest. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Supplied

The mystery of the monster marsh machine has been solved - thanks to EDP readers.

Garrett peat harvester at work in Ireland. Picture: LONG SHOP MUSEUM, LEISTON

Garrett peat harvester at work in Ireland. Picture: LONG SHOP MUSEUM, LEISTON - Credit: Archant

A family photograph showing a giant tank-like machine was featured in Tuesday's paper.

Its owner Peter Jarvis from Felthorpe was mystified by the picture from his grandfather's collection - showing a giant tractor with a shed on the top and a disc mounted on one side, which he thought was pictured on the flat marshes of north Norfolk.

But readers have come up the answer - and moved the focus to the peat bogs of Ireland, and a Suffolk-based manufacturer of farm equipment and steam engines.

Retired agricultural engineer and classic tractor fan John Burgess from Marsh Farm, Worlingham said he recognised the machine as one of a series which cut and loaded peat from Irish bogs to send to power stations.

Garrett peat harvester at teh Suffolk works. Picture: LONG SHOP MUSEUM, LEISTON

Garrett peat harvester at teh Suffolk works. Picture: LONG SHOP MUSEUM, LEISTON - Credit: Archant


You may also want to watch:


The giant wheel was a ditch cutter and other machines were used to skim, process and mill the peat ready for use in the power industry.

The machines were made by Garrett's famous factory at Leiston which made steam engines, farm machinery, and even trolleybuses and electric dustcarts.

Most Read

'I have seen them in books, but also found one in Ireland near a peat industry museum. They were painted daffodil yellow,' said Mr Burgess 73.

Donald Savage, 77, from Fressingfield remembered actually working on one when he was a teenage apprentice at Garrett's.

Garrett peat harvester at work in Ireland in 1952. Picture: LONG SHOP MUSEUM, LEISTON

Garrett peat harvester at work in Ireland in 1952. Picture: LONG SHOP MUSEUM, LEISTON - Credit: Archant

'As the apprentice fitter engineer I had to tap out a considerable number of holes to join the plates making up the hull,' he recalled.

The machines had big tracks and wheels so they did not sink, and had the counterweight so they did not tip over.

Anna Mercer, curator at the Long Shop Museum charting the history of the Garrett factory, confirmed it was a peat harvesting 'ditcher' - made in Suffolk and mostly exported, unassembled, to Ireland and Scotland.

They were made mainly in the 1950s by the company which began in 1778 making scythes and ploughs before its most famous product of steam engines in the 1840s.

It went into liquidation in 1932 but continued under the wing of Bayer Peacock until 1980 making things as diverse as dry cleaning machines and sectional buildings.

Mr Jarvis was grateful for the information from readers which identified the machine saying he recalled Uncle Billie, in the picture, spent some holidays in Ireland - and would have stopped to have his picture with such a magnificent machine.

The Long Shop Museum, which has pictures of the peat harvesters and other Garrett machines, reopens in March. For more information contact www.longshopmuseum.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus