Old fire engine gets new home

STOWMARKET'S Museum of East Anglian Life has put on display the very first fire engine used in the town more than 270 years ago.

STOWMARKET'S Museum of East Anglian Life has put on display the very first fire engine used in the town more than 270 years ago.

The vehicle probably helped put out the fires when the Stowmarket Gun Cotton Factory exploded on August 11 1871.

On Sunday the museum, set in 75 picturesque acres in the centre of the community, accepted the engine, which was originally presented to the town in 1734 by Nathaniel Gordon.

It was in use up until 1885 and until recently was displayed at the Stowmarket Fire Station, but it is hoped that by moving it to the museum both visitors and school groups will get the chance to learn about this important part of the town's history.

Lisa Harris, collections manager, said: “This is a really exciting object for us and will be one of the oldest exhibits in our collection.

“Considering its age, it's possible that this was one of those that helped put out the fires when the Stowmarket Gun Cotton Factory exploded on the 11th August 1871, almost 137 years ago to the day. That's real local history for you.”

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The historic fire fighting machinery was towed through the town as part of a short procession of commercial vehicles on Sunday afternoon before it is officially handed over to the museum as part of there Steam and Traditional Crafts Weekend.

The Museum of East Anglian Life is open April to October Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sunday 11am to 5pm, with late night Thursday opening until 8pm throughout August. For more details contact staff on 01449 612229 or check out the website www.eastanglianlife.org.uk