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Sale to bring memories flooding back

PUBLISHED: 15:55 01 July 2011

Happy Hudson with the steam engine Victoria.

Happy Hudson with the steam engine Victoria.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

It was the quaint attraction which added steam to the launch of what has become one of the region's favourite theme parks.

The little blue steam engine, Victoria, which ran rides for six years after Pleasurewood Hills opened near Lowestoft almost 30 years ago, will enter a new chapter in its life later this month when it goes up for auction.

However, enthusiasts hoping to rekindle childhood memories are being warned that it will take a sizeable garden to make full use of the engine, which has been given a presale estimate of £6,000 to £7,000 by specialist auctioneers Cheffins, at Sutton, in Cambridgeshire.

Norfolk entrepreneur Joe Larter, who founded Pleasurewood Hills in 1983, said: “This was the very first engine to take visitors on rides around the park.

“Engine driver ‘Happy’ Robert Hudson and another enthusiast, John Edwards, needed somewhere to run their miniature railway, and it was that which led us to press the ‘go’ button for the whole Pleasurewood Hills development.

“So not only has this engine entertained thousands of children and their families through the years, but it was the whole cause of the attraction coming into being.”

Mr Larter, of Hapton, near Norwich, sold Pleasurewood Hills in 1989 to concentrate on other projects, and the engine has since been kept under wraps in storage by Mr Hudson, with whom he later ran the former Bygone Village attraction at Fleggburgh, near Great Yarmouth.

He said: “It will be sad to see it go, but I have now decided it is unlikely to be either restored or used by us again; so I am putting it up for sale, hoping it might be brought back under steam and give pleasure to others once again.”

The engine, which will go up for auction on July 23, is described as a one-third model to a design by Milner Engineering of Chester, with a steel boiler by Roger Marsh; it weighs 350kg and was last steamed in 1990.

Since then it has been dry stored and, although in good condition, needs a boiler test and some reassembling.

Cheffins specialist Jeremy Curzon anticipates good interest from both steam train enthusiasts and those with a local interest.

“The engine was a major feature of the Pleasurewood Hills theme park, and we shouldn’t forget the nostalgia and regard that people hold in their hearts for the holidays of their childhood,” he said.

Mr Hudson, 69, of Tower Road, Fleggburgh, said: “I owned a garage and worked in the motor trade for 30 years and used my mechanical expertise to build the engine in 1980.”

Catalogues for the sale are available on line at www.cheffins.co.uk

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