An unusual machine
Sirapite is a very rare shunting engine. Part traction engine and part locomotive, it was built in 1906 by Aveling and Porter for the gypsum mines at Mountfield in Sussex. Its name comes from a product similar to plaster of Paris, which was produced by the company: Sirapite was thought to be a more suitable name for the product than Parisite!
Sirapite was bought by Richard Garrett & Sons and brought to Leiston in 1929 to replace the horses which had been used to manoeuvre trucks carrying goods and materials between the town site, the top site and Leiston railway station. The engineering works, hidden behind high walls, dominated the life of this small town. 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.
Sirapite was retired in 1962 and four years later was bought by Sir William McAlpine to add to his personal collection.
There will be opportunities to see Sirapite in steam this year on 31st March (Open Day) and 21st October (Final Fling) She will be in steam on other days; please phone 01728 832 189 for further information. Some more photographs can be seen by clicking here.