Bressingham Steam & Gardens is a steam museum and gardens located at Bressingham (adjacent to a Wyevale garden centre), west of Diss in Norfolk, England. The site has several narrow gauge rail lines and a number of types of steam engines and vehicles in its collection and is also the home of the national Dad's Army exhibition.
The gardens were established by Alan Bloom MBE at Bressingham Hall. He moved to Bressingham in 1946, after selling his previous 36-acre (15 ha) site at Oakington in Cambridgeshire to raise the capital for the 220 acres (89 ha) in Norfolk, where he hoped to be both a farmer and a nurseryman. He was a plant expert of international renown, particularly in the field of hardy perennials. He laid out the Dell garden with its well-known island beds. His son, Adrian Bloom, laid out the Foggy Bottom garden.
Much of the site is given over to commercial horticulture. There is a garden centre on the site, trading as Blooms of Bressingham, although the nurseries themselves are not open to the public. Bressingham Gardens and Steam Museum is an independent charitable trust. Alan Bloom had wanted to create his own trust in 1967, to ensure that the collection would not be dispersed to pay for death duties, but the laws of the time made this difficult, and after five years of negotiation, the museum was nearly handed over to the Transport Trust. However, the legislation governing private museums was relaxed just before the handover in 1971, and Bloom was able to create his own Trust and thus retain control of it because the collection was of historical and educational importance.
There are three railway lines which take visitors around the gardens:
This gauge miniature railway runs through the Dell Garden, giving passengers good views of the various plants. The railway's passenger trains are operated by steam locomotive Alan Bloom, which was constructed along with the railway.
This is a narrow gauge railway. The Nursery Railway was the first railway to be completed at Bressingham, first opening in 1968. The railway is 2.5 miles in length and crosses the Waveney Valley Railway, running parallel to it for a short distance. It also runs through meadows and passes the now defunct plant nurseries.
|Number and name||Builder||Type||Livery||Notes||Image|
|316 Gwynedd||Hunslet||0-4-0ST Penrhyn Quarry Hunslet||Lined Penrhyn Quarry Black||Built in 1883. The locomotive spent all of its working life at Penrhyn Quarry until arriving at Bressingham in 1966 and became a regular performer. A major overhaul was completed in 2000, where Gwynedd received a new boiler. The locomotive operated until 2009 when it was withdrawn from service for another overhaul. The work included a new firebox and the locomotive was returned to service in 2017.|
|994 George Sholto||Hunslet||0-4-0ST Quarry Hunslet||Lined Green||Built in 1909. Like Gwynedd, George Sholto also operated at Penrhyn Quarry. The locomotive was restored at Bressingham and spent a period of time operating under its other guise of Bill Harvey and without a cab. It was withdrawn from service in the mid 2000s in need of a major overhaul. The overhaul involved the construction of a new boiler and work on the chassis, plus a cab being installed for the first time in preservation. This was completed in 2011 and George Sholto is once again a regular performer on the Nursery Railway, sometimes operating demonstration slate trains like it used to at Penrhyn.|
|2 Bevan||Bressingham||0-4-0WT (based on the Kerr Stuart Wren design)||Lined Red||Bevan was constructed by the Bressingham workshops in 2010. It is operational and is frequently used on passenger trains.|
|12120/7||Motor Rail Simplex||4wd Simplex||Brown||Built in 1964. Disguised to resemble Toby the Tram Engine. The locomotive was the Nursery Railway's main passenger diesel but is now a static exhibit in the Exhibition Hall.|
|8911||Hunslet||4wDH Hunslet||Unlined Blue.||Built in 1980. The locomotive is operational and is primarily used to pull passengers on the Nursery Railway at quieter times of the year.|
|9155 Bovis||Hunslet||4wBE||Lined Black||Built in 1971. A rare example of a Hunslet Battery Electric locomotive. Operational and used as the workshop yard shunter.|
gauge miniature railway. The line was first opened in 1973 and is 1.5 miles in length. It crosses the Nursery Railway and also runs parallel to the line for a time.
|Number and name||Builder||Type||Livery||Notes||Image|
|1662 Rosenkavalier||Krupp||4-6-2 Pacific||Lined light Green||Built in 1937. Along with Mannertreu she was built for use at a trade fair in Düsseldorf. Arrived at Bressingham in 1973 and has been a mainstay of the Waveney Valley Railway. Withdrawn from service in 2011 in need of a major overhaul and is currently on display in the Exhibition Hall.|
|1993 Mannertreu||Krupp||4-6-2 Pacific||Lined dark Green||Built in 1937. Along with Rosenkavalier she was built for use at a trade fair in Düsseldorf. Arrived at Bressingham in 1973 and has been a mainstay of the Waveney Valley Railway. Withdrawn from service in 2008 and is undergoing a major overhaul.|
|St Christopher||Exmoor Steam Railway||2-6-2T||Lined Blue||Constructed by the Exmoor Steam Railway in 2001 and was based on the Windmill farm Railway. The locomotive moved to Bressingham in 2011 and is operational. It is the main locomotive used on the Waveney Light Railway.|
|D6353 Beaver||J. Brown||4wd-4wdDM||Green with full Yellow ends.||Built in 1998. Based on a British Rail Class 22 locomotive. Stored out of use in the engine shed.|
|Ivor||Frezne Engineering||4wDH||Green||Built in 1979. Operational and used as a works locomotive.|
During 2013, a circular track of dual gauge and gauge was under construction. Once completed, there will be a total of seven different gauges at Bressingham.
A variety of steam vehicles are in the collection.
The museum is the home of the national Dad's Army collection of vintage vehicles. These are located on a reconstruction of the High Street in the fictional Walmington-on-Sea beside the butcher's shop of Lance-Corporal Jones, Private Frazer's undertaker's shop and Captain Mainwaring's bank office.
The vehicles include Jones' van and the dust cart from the 1971 film, Mainwaring's Austin 8 staff car used in the episode The Making of Private Pike, the vintage fire engine used in Brain Versus Brawn and the steamroller 'Boxer' and traction engine 'Bertha' which appeared in other episodes.