The Food Museum is an open air landscape of buildings and machinery covering a huge 28 hectare site near the centre of one of East Anglia´s historic market towns, Stowmarket in Suffolk. This area has been long associated with the development of agricultural engineering and was a heartland of the Agrarian Revolution in the 18th century. Arrive when the Smithy or the huge engines are at work and you can be transported back to East Anglia´s industrial past. East Anglian firms such as Garrett´s, Burrell´s, Paxman´s, Boby, Smyth and Fison are represented in evocative displays. These firms made a wide range of products to support agriculture; including agricultural machinery, malting equipment, bricks and fertiliser. A special highlight of the museum is the impressive 210 year history of Ransomes, Sims and Jeffries Engineering Company. The New William Bone Building sets out the story of this world-class leader and displays its varied production, from early lawnmowers to massive steam engines. There is also a special children’s quiz to ensure there is something for all ages to enjoy. Individual craft workshops in the Boby building are displayed as if their owners are about to return and occasional live demonstrations are always very popular. The recreated bioscope cinema on the upper floor of the Boby building regularly plays videos showing workers explaining their craft. These videos and others from the East Anglian Film Archive are some of the most popular items on sale in the museum shop.
For the steam and engineering enthusiast, the museum’s range of five working engines is impressive. ‘The Empress of Britain’ 1912 Burrell steam traction engine has just been fully refurbished by local experts and volunteers. A Whitmore & Binyon single-cylinder horizontal steam engine, the oldest matched pair of steam ploughing engines, and a pair of Walsh & Clark paraffin steam engines complete the line-up. At least one steam engine will be working every second Sunday in the month during the season.