PHOTO GALLERY: Life of Suffolk and Norfolk road builders goes on display at Carlton Colville museum

In the early 20th century they were a common sight on East Anglian roads as workmen lived and worked from them.

And as these photographs show the world of the roadman's living van is now being brought back to life at a Suffolk museum.

The East Anglia Transport Museum at Carlton Colville, near Lowestoft, will be displaying a 1910 roadman's living van which used to help build roads in west Suffolk.

The vans were towed by steam rollers and until the 1950s they helped to construct the region's expanding road network.

They had a three man crew – a driver, roadman and a cook boy. It was also known for families to join the crew on their work journeys.

From April 9 the van, a 1923 Armstrong Wentworth steam roller and a 1900 water cart will go on display in a purpose-built exhibition building.

The interactive Tar, Sweat and Steam road building exhibition has been 18 months in the making after the museum was given a �198,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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Since the grant was handed over a small team of dedicated volunteers have been getting the exhibition ready.

When it officially opens on April 9 it will be largest display the museum will have held and be the first interactive one the site has staged.

This week Ken Ward and several other volunteers were putting the finishing touches to the exhibition.

The interior of the van has been lovingly recreated with authentic props, such as bedding and stove, and dummies of workmen.

Volunteers are also creating a history of road building display and are setting up an early 20th century interactive storeroom.

A film of daily life in a roadman's living van, made by the Seagull Theatre in Lowestoft, will also be shown during the exhibition.

Mr Ward said: 'It was a hard, primitive life for the roadmen. The vans were like a home on wheels for them.

'It is a fascinating part of East Anglian history which many people do not know about.

'Having the new building thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund is absolutely wonderful for us.

'We just would not be able to do anything like this in the past.

'It takes the museum one massive step forward.'

The roadman's living van was stored in Mildenhall before being handed over the museum.

The steam roller, named Stormer, worked on Ipswich dock and is one of only two of its kind which can still be steamed up.

Tar, Sweat and Steam will be open to the public from 10am on April 9.

For information on museum opening times visit www.eatm.org.uk

To view a picture gallery on this story go to www.edp24.co.uk

anthony.carroll@archant.co.uk