Monday 6 January 2014

Aveling & Porter Tandem Steam Roller 6530 'Bernard', 1908

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Aveling & Porter of Rochester, Kent are believed to have been the first company to produce a Tandem steam road roller - tandem refers to the fact it has two 'rollers', as opposed to the traditional 'three point' roller which involves one main roller, usually at the front, and two rear wheels which although built like rollers are much narrower - as more weight is at the rear, which is accentuated by the narrow wheels, it forces down on the surface more which makes an uneven surface. As well as having a secondary main roller at the rear, it also has the water tanks near the centre of the engine, increasing the weight distributed by the front roller. This design was introduced in 1902 and produced until 1920 when they started to make them in the American fashion, with a vertical boiler carried between the two rollers.

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 This 1908 built Aveling & Porter Tandem, works number 6530, registration NM 291 and named 'Bernard', was bought new by Luton Corporation and is the earliest surviving tandem steam roller in the UK, and most likely the world. It is believed that it was ordered to work in Luton over the roadways where the electric tram system, opened in 1908 also, ran. 6530 worked for Luton Corporation until the 1950's. After being sold out of service it worked at a construction site in Luton, and is also believed to have last been used to work on the M1 Motorway. It is owned by Luton Cultural Services Trust, and is usually an exhibit at Stockwood Museum in Luton. It currently requires a new firebox before it can return to steam, for which fundraising is underway and donations gratefully accepted

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Friday 6 December 2013

Burrell A Class 8 ton Steam Roller, 1902

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This is Burrell 2623, registration MA 8207, an A Class 5NHP single crank compound 8 ton steam roller of 1902. It was bought new by Samuel Jacksons of Nantwich, Cheshire, working for them until retirement in the late 1950s and entering preservation from there

Monday 11 November 2013

Baby Peugeot, 1902

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Peugeot were one of the best and most successful motor car manufacturers of the Edwardian era - although many were typical large vehicles, by 1900 they had expanded into the small car market, with the 'Bebe', built in large quantities from 1901 onwards. It is fitted with a very small 1.5hp engine 652cc single cylinder engine, with a top speed of 28mph. It cost £195 from new 

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Wednesday 6 November 2013

Garrett 6 ton Steam Roller 'The Kings Own', 1910

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This is Garrett works number 28273, a 3NHP six ton steam roller, registration BF 5505 of 1910. It was built as a standard roller for Garrett's, who would keep it in stock until one was ordered, but this was changed to fill a contract for A Henninger & Co of Darmstadt Germany, who specified that the name of the company was cast into the roller hubs and valve chest cover, as shown here. It left the Garrett works in Leiston, Suffolk on 26th March 1910. After the First World War it moved to Belgium and worked there until retirement in 1971. It was returned to the UK after a Belgian museum closed down which it was held in, and was named 'The Kings Own' in memory of the owners Grandfather who served with 'The Kings Own' - the Royal Lancaster Regiment - in the First World War. The sister engine to this one is still in Belgium and is in working condition

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Monday 14 October 2013

Morris Oxford, 1913

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This very pleasant little motor car, which was developed into what is popularly known as the 'Bullnose Morris', was built as the Morris Oxford, first produced in 1912 by William R Morris of Oxford (who later became Lord Nuffield). He wanted to copy Henry Ford and his famous Model T and produce a vehicle affordable for the average man on the street - to help keep costs down, the early models had the engine, clutch and gearbox built as one unit by White and Poppe. The design first appeared to the public at the Manchester Show of 1913 and was remarked upon for it's many attributes and design features more commonly associated with larger, and more expensive, cars - it was an immediate success, and over a thousand had been sold by the end of 1914. This two-seat Tourer is fitted with a 10hp, 1 litre engine, with a top speed of 55mph and a price when new of £180 

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Thursday 10 October 2013

Vale of Rheidol Railway, 1902

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Colourised postcard from my collection showing a passenger train hauled by No 2 'Prince of Wales' of 1901, photo taken c1904

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 Original 1902 corrugated iron building at Devil's Bridge station

The Vale of Rheidol Railway is a narrow gauge railway, built a gauge of 1 ft, 11 3/4 inches between the rails, originally designed to carry timber and ore from the Rheidol valley down to the sea port at Aberystwyth, however by the time the railway was nearing completion these industries were in decline in the Rheidol valley, but the huge increase in tourism in the late 19th and early 20th century gave the railway another purpose - transporting tourists up to Devil's Bridge, a very scenic part of mid-Wales, featuring a waterfall and a bridge said to have been built by the Devil himself for a local woman, so her cows could cross - the Devil planning to take the soul of the first person to cross the bridge in exchange, hoping it would be her, leading the cows - she somehow discovered this and so threw bread over the bridge, and her dog ran over, making that the first soul to cross. In reality it was built in around the 9th century - there is another bridge, built in 1753, built over the original bridge, the builders using the original bridge as scaffolding, and a 1901 iron bridge crossing the lower two.

Construction of the line started in 1901 following the Act of Parliament allowing the line to be built being granted in 1897 - two locomotives were built by Davies & Metcalfe of Manchester, who hadn't built a locomotive before (or since), but did so because Metcalfe came from Aberystwyth, the locomotives having to be capable of working the impressive gradient up to Devil's Bridge, hugging the valley side. They were 2-6-2T side tank engines, with high, thin water tanks surrounding the boiler. These were No 1 and No 2, named 'King Edward VII' and 'Prince of Wales' respectively - King Edward VII coming to the throne in 1901 following the death of his mother, Queen Victoria, and Prince of Wales being the future King George V. No 3, 'Rheidol', was built by Bagnall of Stafford in 1896 for a Brazilian plantation but was never delivered, was regauged for use on the Plynlimon and Hafan Tramway, but when this failed was regauged again for the Vale of Rheidol who purchased it in 1903.

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One of the three 1923 built locomotives, No 8, almost identical to the two original Vale of Rheidol locomotives

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The crew of No 8 giving attention to the locomotive after the hard climb up to Devil's Bridge

The line was opened on 22nd December 1902, and did bring about an increase in trade in the previously declining industries in the Rheidol valley, and some mines even reopened. An aerial ropeway was opened from the Level Fawr Lead Mine to Rhiwfron station. The materials from the mine, and also the timber, would be shipped down to Aberystywth for onward transportation via standard gauge railway or the sea. The line was so successful that in 1912 electric motive power was even considered - however in the same year the line came under control of the Cambrian Railway, and two years later the First World War caused a decline in traffic. At some point between 1916 and 1918 the two Davies & Metcalfe 2-6-2T locomotives were modified with bigger coal bunkers, as the ones they were fitted with were very small. After the war, the decline in local industries continued, but the tourist trade grew. At the grouping in 1923, the line came under control of the Great Western Railway, who immediately built three new locomotives that year - externally they looked almost identical to the two Davies & Metcalfe locomotives, the most obvious difference being the lack of a cab side window. Officially, only two new locomotives were built, No 7 & No 8, as these were the only two new builds authorised by the Great Western Railway, and No 9 was officially a 'rebuild' of No 2 'Prince of Wales'. In actual fact this was just an accounting exercise and No 9 was a brand new locomotive like the other two. No 1 'King Edward VII' survived for a few more years until scrapping in the 1930s. 

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No 9, officially a rebuild of No 2 'Prince of Wales' of 1901, and indeed also being named 'Prince of Wales', and for many years recorded in books, magazines and online as being so, however research by CC Green who published a very comprehensive book on the Vale of Rheidol Railway proved that no parts between the two locomotives would be interchangeable 

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Reconstructed corrugated iron building at Rhiwfron station 

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Level fawr lead mine across the valley - an aerial ropeway transported materials between the mine and Rhiwfron station 

 With the change of ownership, goods services also stopped, and the branch from Aberystywth station to the harbour was closed. Services were stopped during the Second World War (however started again in July 1945 before the war with Japan was over), and after passing to British Railways in 1948 with the nationalisation of the railways little changed - in fact after 1968 when standard gauge steam locomotives were all withdrawn, the three 1923 built Vale of Rheidol 2-6-2T's were the only British Rail steam locomotives, and even received the British Rail blue livery with white 'double arrow' logo on the side tanks. The line continued with British Rail until 1989 when it was privatised, and the railway continues today - unlike many other heritage railways, never having closed (apart from the stopping of services during WW2), and two of the three 1923 locomotives are still in service today, hauling carriages built in the 1920s/30s. Most of the line has unchanged since opening in the Edwardian era and combined with a visit to Devil's Bridge, or just the superb tea room at Devil's Bridge station, is a fantastic Edwardian day out.

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One of the original, albeit much rebuilt, wagons
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Overview of Devil's Bridge station

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Views of the Vale of Rheidol from the railway

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Sunday 6 October 2013

Fowler D2 Class Steam Roller 'Lord Kitchener', 1901

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Built by Fowler of Leeds in 1901, this is D2 Class single cylinder, 12 ton steam roller, works number 9005 and named 'Lord Kitchener', registered on the roads as HR 3582. It was supplied new to W Rawlings & Sons who used it until the 1950s.

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Tuesday 1 October 2013

Wolseley Type M5, 1912

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 This beautiful large Wolseley Limousine is an M5 model, built in 1912 and delivered to the Shuttleworth Family in July 1912 - it is fitted with a 24hp in-line six cylinder engine, giving the car a top speed of 50mph despite the heavy coach built body, and cost the Shuttleworth's £803 and 15 shillings. As can be seen it is a fantastic example of a prestigious motor car of the period with no expense spared in the manufacture.

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