Long Shop Museum, Leiston

27 March 2010

Today was the first day of the year that the Long Shop Museum was open, and it was a free open day to celebrate the restoration of Sirapite.

Sirapite is a very rare shunting engine. It is part traction engine and part locomotive and was built in 1906 by Aveling and Porter for Gypsum Mines Ltd. at Mountfield in Sussex. Its name comes from a product similar to plaster of paris which was produced by the company: Sirapite was decided to be more suitable than Parisite. Sirapite was bought by Richard Garrett and Sons and brought to Leiston in 1929. It was used to replace the horses which had been used to control the trucks which conveyed goods and materials on tracks between the workers' houses to and from the town site to the top site and Leiston railway station. Sirapite was the visible link between the company and the townspeople, trundling backwards and forwards across the main road, supervised by a man with a red flag.

The rusting remains were bought in 2003, and since then it has been restored to its former glory. Here some Brasso is being used to get Sirapite ready for the official ceremony later on.

The unusual flywheel on the left side of Sirapite

The Long Shop itself - the earliest purpose built production line in the country.

Inside the Long Shop

a band is playing. There are lots of interesting exhibits on the ground floor and around the gallery.

Garrett's Suffolk Punch - an attempt to produce a steam car to challenge the upstart - the internal combustion engine.

A model of Leiston station as it was

With Sirapite!

The old firebox of Sirapite

And the old chimney.

The Brasso has been put away and Sirapite is looking splendid.


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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson