A week away in Norfolk for us in April and we had to visit the Thursford Steam Collection. Having never been there before, we had heard lots of reports from friends and were looking forward to our trip.
As we arrived in the car park there was only a handful of cars, then reading the sign on the entrance gate we noticed it didn’t open until midday. So at midday off we went, walking down towards the big buildings we notice a train which unfortunately was sheeted up which the children were very disappointed about, it also looked as though it hadn’t been steamed for some time.
Entering the building where the engines and rides are kept we were impressed, there stood three showman’s engines in a line and a set of gallopers and a wonderful Gondola switchback ride. Over the other side of the building was the stage where Robert Wolfe plays the Wurlitzer theatre organ and beyond that were more steam engines and a good display of stationary engines. Also around the walls of the building were many types of fairground organs.
As we walked around the organs played well known tunes which gave a good atmosphere. Then Robert Wolfe sat at the Wurlitzer and gave us a fantastic display of how one of these wonderful instruments should be played. We all sat watching him. The children were mesmerised.
The chance came to have a go on the two rides. Having ridden on gallopers many times over the years we didn’t feel the need to have a go on them, but the impressive gondola ride was a different matter and we couldn’t wait. It was great, what a site it must have been all thoughs years ago at a town or village fair.
To sum up our visit, it was a shame that none of the engines have seen a fire in there fire boxes for years, it is disappointing as we think all steam engines should really be seen in steam. It would be nice to see some of the other engines that are parked up waiting for restoration in the yard across the road from the museum. There is plenty of room for more inside the building and surrounding gardens. You only get to see a handful of what is a very large collection. To end on a high note, the atmosphere created by the music of the fairground organs and the Wurlitzer is fabulous.