Charles Burrell & Sons were among the most famous makers of steam traction engines. Charles Burrell built the first of many steam portable engines at the family foundry in Thetford, Norfolk in 1848, then moved on to agricultural engines and road tractors, initially with chain drive, later with gear drive. An extensive range of traction engines of 6, 7, 8 and 10nhp included a famous series of showman's engines, of which over 200 were built from 1887 to 1930, and many more were converted by showmen from road locomotives. Burrell patented the single-crank compound, and from 1897 onwards the double crank compound system was used. The 8nhp engines were the most popular; the peak production year was 1913, when over 100 machines were built. The Burrell Gold Medal Tractor was a lighter machine for operation by one man, after the 1904 Act. Charles Burrell died in 1906, his third son Charles Jr taking control. In the postwar slump Burrell declined and closed in 1928. In the 1920s the Burrell 8nhp 'special scenic locomotives' had an auxiliary dynamo as well as the main dynamo, for the new scenic railways popular on fairgrounds at the time. The last unfinished machines were completed at Leiston by Garrett. At their height Burrell had over 350 employees, and in total around 4,000 steam traction engines and rollers were built. Burrells were known for their elegant design, ease of handling and operating economy. Today restored engines appear at shows around the country, including the annual Dorset Steam Fair.
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