The Long Shop Museum

Located in and around the UK’s first ever assembly line building and Suffolk’s deepest well, the Long Shop Museum celebrates the Garrett Engineering Works, a world class industrial heritage site.

Visit the unique Victorian workshop which manufactured mighty Garrett steam and agricultural engines exported across the globe. Enjoy ‘steam up’ days and special events and find out about the legacies of a family, which not only built a whole town and community, but forged some amazing legacies for the future.

Things to do

Full steam ahead!

Just a traction engine’s puff from the site of Garrett’s first forge near Leiston’s High Green, the Leiston Long Shop looms large at the heart of the town. Located on higher ground and with arched windows, it’s easy to imagine why the workers who regularly attended the mighty workshop dubbed it ‘The Cathedral’.

Today, it’s more than just a place of past workmanship, packed with engines, exhibits, displays and hands-on activities which share the stories of real Leiston folk.

The Long Shop is a popular venue for events, but its speciality has to be its ‘steam-up’ days when the sounds, sights and smells of great shining traction engines, steam rollers and a steam railway engine bring this amazing museum to life.

Plan your visit Events

Railway nostalgia

Don’t miss the lovingly restored, original works railway engine, Siripite (part of the Long Shop’s engine collection) on your trip to the museum. You may even experience the treat of seeing it in steam!   

Volunteers at the Works Railway Trust (an organisation operating independently of the Museum) are on track to bring the railway line which served the Long Shop back to life. Look out for them at work on the track in town or even running locos on the restored length of track on special open days.

Siripite Long Shop Works steam engine Leiston Suffolk
Long Shop Leiston Suffolk Works in Wartime event

A lively programme of events

Concerts, dances, craft fairs; classic vehicle days, heritage specials and themed events – Leiston’s Long Shop has a fab calendar of family fun and community events with something for everyone.

Past event days have included model railways, motorbikes, Steam Punk, wartime Home Guard or USAAF remembered re-enactments. Then there are all the favourites, like steam-ups and Christmas specials too!.


Did you know? 

The idea for the Long Shop assembly line came from Richard Garrett III’s meeting with Samuel Colt of US revolver fame at the 1851 Great Exhibition.

What’s so special about the Leiston Long Shop?

Historically, almost everything in Leiston evolved from and revolved around the Long Shop. The global reach of the quality products engineered at the Garrett Works not only put Leiston on the world map, it transformed the town forever.

Forging ahead

When enterprising metal worker, Richard Garrett I, moved to Leiston-cum-Sizewell from near Woodbridge in 1778, the rural farming and fishing community he found here was facing hard times.

The tools he crafted at his first Leiston forge and the engineering ideas he developed were focused around agriculture. His ideas were meeting a local need and it was a need that his growing community of employees understood and could relate to often first hand.  

Within decades, Garrett had founded an engineering dynasty and fast developed a concept most unusual for Suffolk, but quite commonplace in England’s industrial north – a company town.


Suffolk’s Industrial Revolution in microcosm

As a town, Leiston was dominated by Garrett & Sons agricultural engineering business. The influence of its philanthropic owners reached out across every aspect of life – housing, churches, schooling; recreation, sports and social activities; even band music and wartime battalions! And all this didn’t just last for the 200 years that the Garrett Works operted in the town.

Amazingly, many of the cultural legacies still survive to this day, along with much of the workers’ housing and original town infrastructure – not to mention a sizeable amount of the original Victorian Works.

The Long Shop – Safeguarded in celebration

The Long Shop museum was created in 1984, with the 1852 Long Shop ‘Cathedral’ (now Grade II* listed) at its heart. But it doen’t just honour and preserve the original works site and the memories of the Leiston generations who worked there.

The extensive museum also serves to share the stories of other notable members of the Garrett family who changed the lives of others forever. These include Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first female doctor in the UK, and famous Suffragist, Millicent Fawcett Garrett.

Look out for more Garrett connections

The Garrett Works didn’t just make large scale engines and machinery… So, can you spot historic cast iron street name plates, notices, decorative architectural panels, railings and even graveyard memorials on your travels in and around Leiston? Follow the Town Heritage Trail to make some fascinating discoveries.

And if you’re out and about around the Suffolk Coast, keep an eye out for more Garrett family ironwork and built-heritage legacies at Snape Maltings and Aldeburgh.