Burrells of Thetford, Paperback Book


Charles Burrell & Sons Ltd were builders of very high quality reliable road steam engines.The firm can be traced back to 1770 when Joseph Burrell opened a smithy in St Nicholas Street,Thetford,Norfolk,originally repairing agricultural equipment and then making his own farming equipment.

The smithy eventually expanded to become the St.Nicholas Works producing a whole range of agricultural equipment renowned for their workmanship,an ethos which continued throughout the life of the firm. Charles was a popular christian name at Burrells as three directors carried that name,the first who became Works Manager saw the company through the glory years of the nineteenth century.In the 1840s the first portables were designed,a decade and a half later the company produced their first self-propelled traction engine,like most of the other engineering firms products before that,steam engines were driven by horses to their place of work,and this was major step forward in traction engine design.Burrells were always keen to advance their designs and in the 1870s they were one of the first to fit solid rubber tyres to their road steam locomotives. Burrells diversified in the late years of the nineteenth century,not just agricultural equipment like threshing machines which had always been part of their portfolio,but steam launches,marine engines,and steam tram engines,amongst others.Steam road rollers were produced from the 1890s,and a decade later their superbly finished showmans road locomotives and tractors,very well liked by the fairground operators because of their build quality.Then in 1908 Burrells won the RAC sponsored steam tractor trials for light haulage and were awarded a Gold Medal,and henceforth these tractors were called the Gold Medal Tractor.Just before the First World War,Burrells introduced a steam wagon. In the 1920s Burrell joined the consortium called Agriculture and General Engines Ltd,which when it collapsed in 1932 took this illustrous firm with it.Some 330 of all types are in preservation in this country,including two ploughing engines from 1879 which are kept at the Museum of East Anglian life at Stowmarket.

The Charles Burrell Museum of Minsterg ate,Thetford,records the history of the firm,and has many exhibits on show including a display of engines.




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