The Thursford Collection is a museum in Thursford, Norfolk. It was originally founded by George Cushing – a local man who built up the collection almost single handedly. In the late 1930’s as steam engines were replaced by diesel and petrol power, Cushing began to buy up the redundant machines and restore them to their former glory, with the help of friends and fellow enthusiasts.

As the Thursford Collection grew, more people travelled to Thursford to admire the collection. So, in the 1970s he opened his museum to the general public in the old farm sheds, and would guide people around the exhibits. Slowly, the attraction expanded to include a gift shop and tea rooms and opened seven days a week during the summer season.

It’s now a huge and beautiful attraction, full of amazing examples of steam rides and engines and attracts over 200,000 visitors per year. The Christmas spectacular, attracts over 100,000 in its own right!

One of the stars of the show is the Venetian Gondola Switchback Ride. According to the Thursford website, it’s called a gondola because “the richly carved cars are shaped like Venetian Gondolas, and it is a switchback in that, during its roundabout whirl, it climbs two hills and dips down into the following valleys.”

2017, enter Garmendale Engineering

With the ride having been built in the early 1900’s, it’s seen some use. Initially, it was powered by steam but later converted to run from a 110v DC powered dynamo. This had become unreliable with a less than smooth transition through the dips and the wear in the drive system was diagnosed as the issue.

The team from Garmendale went on site, dismantled the ride and then, back at the workshop, designed a bespoke solution to upgrade it to run for as many years again.

The New Motor Subframe For The The Thursford Ventian Gondola Ride 600x600 1

It starts with new motor subframe


Attached to this, is the motor itself and the two brake resistors. These help to safely dump the current in the case of an emergency stop and reduce wear on the motor.

The New Three Phase Motor And Brake Resistors For The Thursford Ventian Gondola Ride 570x570 1

The new three phase motor and brake resistors.


The Brake Resistor Which Allows The Motor To Dunmp The Current In The Event Of An Emergency Stop 800x500 1

The Brake resistor which allows the motor to dump the current in the event of an emergency stop


The Thursford Ventian Gondola Ride In Position 500x380 1

The Thursford Venetian Gondola Ride Control cabinet


The Inside Of The The Thursford Ventian Gondola Ride Control Cabinet 800x600 1

The inside of the Ride Control cabinet


The upgrade is completed

So the ride is due to be reassembled this week and will be back in operation very shortly. With the upgrades now completed, the ride is now built to a higher spec than it was when new and is safer for passengers and operators. Perhaps even better, it preserves the ride in all its working glory for generations to enjoy.

We absolutely love this sort of ride refurbishment and upgrade, so if you have a ride languishing and in need of some love, then please do give us a call.

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