“ Address: Bressingham Steam & Gardens, Low Road, Bressingham, Diss, Norfolk, IP22 2AA „
If you love steam trains then if you get the chance, go and visit Bressingham Steam Museum and gardens in Norfolk. It's a really good fun day out for people of all ages!
The steam museum is located just off the A1066 not far from Diss, Suffolk, and is fairly easy to find as there are brown signs for much of the way once you get to Diss. As you get there, you'd be forgiven for thinking it is just a garden centre, as there is a huge one right next to the museum. You can park here and there are plenty of spaces, plus parking is free. I don't think there is any public transport other than local bus services, so you would need a car in order to get to Bressingham. I would think that any local buses would run from Ipswich or Norwich.
As you come from your car past the garden centre you are immediately transported back to that bygone age of steam. On certain days of the week the museum runs narrow-gauge train rides, which are included in the entrance fee, and as you walk round you can hear the hiss of the steam, the chuff-chuff as they trundle through the grounds and the shrill whistles of the engines. It really is a very nostalgic place! A lot of the train drivers are obviously people who, in their youth, probably drove steam trains for a living. You can tell that there is a lot of love for the engines and locomotives that they have at Bressingham!
Once through the gates you are guided to the ticket-office. There is also a lovely gift shop here, which is well worth a look! Prices to enter the museum are really quite reasonable. Steam days (Wednesday to Sunday) are £12.50 per adult, £11 for children (aged 3 to 16) and concessions are £8.50. Non-steam days (Monday and Tueday) are slightly less at £10, £9.00 and £6.50 respectively. Every so often the museum runs special steam days and also Thomas The Tank Engine days and small children will love to be able to ride on Thomas and meet the Fat Controller in person! You do need to check with the museum for details as to when they run their special events, as there are several throughout the year.
Once you come out of the ticket office one of the first things you can hear is the sound of a Victorian Carousel playing it's jolly music. Rides on this are also included in the entrance fee. There is a small café which sells really good food at very affordable prices. It cost us just £26 for four meals, so I thought that was very reasonable, and the food was great too! Toilet facilities are very good and there are loos for the disabled.
Further on into the grounds you come to the exhibition sheds. The Dad's Army one is great and they have recreated Warmington On Sea with all the vehicles that featured in the series, such as Mr Jones's van as well as his butcher's shop. Fans of the show will love this! There are also several other old steam vehicles on show in this area.
Outside again you come to the locomotive sheds where they restore steam and traction engines. You get a real feel for how it must have been back in the golden age of steam when you walk round the locomotives. All have been beautifully restored and look like new, with shiny paint and metal that you can see your face in! Each engine has a story to tell and you are able to read all about their histories. There is even a one-time Royal Train, which Queen Alexandra travelled in!
Once you have been round the sheds, you can have a bit of old-fashioned fun at the penny arcade outside. There are a number of old slot machines which you can try (you buy coins from the attendant there) and also a crazy golf course, plus a coconut shy and other side shows. The best thing they had here though was the original 1950s dodgems. We had to have a go on these and they were great fun! Much faster than the ones you usually get at funfairs today!
Since we were on a Steam Day we enjoyed all the train rides on offer. We were lucky enough to be able to go on three different trains. Each ride lasts about 15-20 minutes and you are transported through the trees and gardens in a haze of steam. It really is quite relaxing and all faces of the children there that day had huge grins on them!
As well as the museum there are fabulous landscaped gardens, and they are well worth a look. It's quite a big garden though, so if you are suffering from aching feet, and it's a steam day, why not take the train round instead? That was one of my favourite rides of the day.
Once we had seen everything we had a look in the garden centre next door, which sold all sorts of beautiful household things as well as most of the plants we saw in the gardens outside. I could have spent a fortune in there! There is also a café at the garden centre too, so another good place to eat.
In all I thought Bressingham Steam Museum was a really good, fun day out for kids of all ages! Who wouldn't love a life-sized train set like that?
We will certainly be going back again!
Bressingham steam museum: A museum of old steam engines, plus Dad's Army Exhibition set in acres of beautiful countryside with formal gardens.