Rare Charles Burrell living van set to fetch thousands at auction
A living wagon with links to a Breckland town is set to sell for thousands of pounds at auction.
Dating back to 1914, the Charles Burrell & Sons living van is thought to be only one of three of its kind made by the famous Thetford-based engineers.
Another of the vans belongs to the Charles Burrell Museum, which is housed in Burrell’s original paint shop on Minstergate in Thetford.
It is estimated to fetch between £8,000 and £10,000 at East Anglian-based auctioneers Cheffin’s vintage sale in April.
The van is part of more than 130 lots comprising of steam engines, living vans and steam cars collection by the late Colin Knight, from the New Forest, who was a well-known figure on the steam circuit.
John Waple, Charles Burrell Museum curator, said: “They are a lot more rare than the actual steam engines themselves. There were not that many of them made.
“Some of them were used to tow behind agricultural equipment. The majority of them ended their days as shepherd huts.
“They were very cosy. They had a stove where agricultural workers could do the cooking and then two bunk beds.”
The Charles Burrell works once employed 350 people and supplied reliable steam-powered engines - including traction engines, steam truck wagons and agricultural equipment - throughout the world.
Mr Waple said: “Some of the wagons have got cast iron wheels and some wooden. The one we have got has had a lot of restoration work and has the original wooden wheels.”
He added that it would be nice if the person who buys the living van brings it along to one of the museum’s open days.
“Some body is going to be rather pleased buying that,” Mr Waple said. “The beauty of this thing is people want to come and see them. It is nice to have them on show.
“We took out living van to the Weeting Steam Engine Rally and Country Show and it got as much enthusiastic viewings as the engines.
“Charles Burrell is a big part of Thetford history. Just about everything that was in Thetford involved around Charles Burrell.”
The auction will take place on Saturday, April 22 at Cheffins machinery sale ground in Sutton, near Ely.
Have you got a story about a vintage or historic item? Email firstname.lastname@example.org