From Beamish to the big screen: Rare fire engine displayed at museum features in Disney's new Dumbo film

If you are visiting the cinema to see Disney's latest Dumbo film, you might spot something from a little bit closer to home.

By Debra Fox
Friday, 12th April 2019, 4:46 pm
Updated Friday, 12th April 2019, 5:09 pm

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Peter and his engine are at Beamish this weekend for the Great North Steam Fair. Picture: Beamish Museum.
Peter and his engine are at Beamish this weekend for the Great North Steam Fair. Picture: Beamish Museum.

A rare fire truck from the 1920s, regularly displayed at Beamish, is featured in the new Tim Burton film after it was spotted in one of the museum's promotional videos by the Walt Disney Company.

The unique engine, which belongs to brothers Peter and David Ingalls, is in one of the live-action film's final scenes - but you can get an up-close look at the vehicle Beamish this weekend as part of the museum's Great North Steam Fair.

Peter, 64, said when he was contacted by the company to see if they could use his engine he thought it was a "wind up".

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He added: "You don't get phone calls from Disney in Florida! I was delighted, I thought 'my fire engine's going to be in a movie!'"

The 1929 Seagrave Pumper Truck was found almost by accident by Peter and brother David, 70, in 2004 when they went to inquire about a vintage bus for sale.

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Peter and his engine are at Beamish this weekend for the Great North Steam Fair. Picture: Beamish Museum.

It was manufactured in Ohio before being delivered as new to the Cleveland Fire Department. It served until 1959.

They were contacted in August 2017 about the truck's use in Dumbo, with filming starting in October that year.

Peter, who is from Lincolnshire, and his family got to go along to Cardington Studios in Bedford for two weeks of filming - an experience wife Jane called "the chance of a lifetime".

He added: "We watched Danny DeVito and Colin Farrell on set. It was actually like Beamish.

Peter's engine features in Disney's new Dumbo film. Picture: Beamish Museum.

"The actors were just walking through set, passing us and saying hello. After two weeks we got friendly with everyone, they were all really lovely people."

Following filming, everything had to stay top secret, with Peter and his family unable to reveal anything about their engine's part in Dumbo until the film's release last month.

Jane, 61, said it was a privilege for their engine to be involved in the film, which also stars Michael Keaton and Eva Green - and it was all thanks to Beamish's video.

She added: "We love coming to Beamish. This event is a highlight for all the family.

Peter takes the family for a spin on the engine. Picture: Beamish Museum.

"We’re always made to feel very welcome and it’s always very enjoyable. The kids love Beamish that much that, when they don’t behave, we actually tell them they won’t be able to go along to the museum the next time – this sharp changes their behaviour!”

Peter and his family have also provided other impressive vehicles for previous Great North Steam Fairs at Beamish, including a 1928 Lincoln car, the only one of its kind in the UK.

The family also attended the museum's Christmas Launch Parade, with Peter turning his skills to sleigh-making for Father Christmas himself.

The grandad-of-five was full of praise for the museum's fair for "bringing history to life" and added: "I just love doing the work and job satisfaction, and to be able to bring it to places like this, it makes it all worth it."

*The Beamish Great North Steam Fair started on Thursday and runs until Sunday, April 14. Visitors will get the chance to clap eyes on more than 140 special vehicles, including trains, steam cars and even a tractor - not forgetting Peter's fire engine. The museum is open from 10am until 5pm daily.