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Full Steam Ahead on Burrell Restoration

On Wednesday, one of the Museum’s larger and more interesting treasures left the Museum to begin a new stage of its life.

The Burrell Road Locomotive is one of two significant steam engines owned by the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. It is a traction engine – a steam-powered engine made to run on roads, and also to be the power source for many other machines. This one is significant, not for being old, but for being young! The engine was built in Thetford, England in 1929. It was brought to Tasmania by the Public Works Department, and was used to power a crushing engine at the Deviot Quarry until around 1960, when it was damaged by a fire.

It was restored in 1981 and moved to a plinth on Wellington Street outside the Department of Main Roads offices, where Launceston residents may remember it operating.

Recently, ownership of the engine was officially transferred to the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery from the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources, allowing the Museum to undertake conservation and restoration work.

The Museum’s Burrell engine is actually the last Burrell compound sprung traction engine made. It is also the third youngest surviving Burrell in the world. These late Burrells were often referred to as the ‘Rolls Royces’ of traction engines, having the benefit of years of innovation in the design of these engines.

The Burrell has now been transported to Devonport, to the workshop of Marshall Engineering, to be dismantled to determine what needs to be done to see the engine restored to operational condition. We will be restoring the paintwork to its original design, replacing necessary engine parts, making the boiler safe, and removing inappropriate paintwork from metal parts that should be paint-free. After years in store, this engine will be able to operate at special events.

In order to remove the engine from its store, we also had to move another significant engine, the museum’s Aveling Porter steam roller, the third oldest surviving steam roller in the world.

Jon Addison, History Curator

Burrell on truck 2

Burrell loaded onto truck

Burrell front

Burrell & Aveling small