EATES Latest News → March 09 2009 → Aveling and Porter Steam Roller   “The Old Girl’s History” by Matthew Garwood

Aveling and Porter Steam Roller   “The Old Girl’s History” by Matthew Garwood

March 09 2009 -

The Aveling and Porter steam roller,works number 2941, was sold new to the Weston Highway’s department in December 1891. This later became Bath RDC. The engine build sheet describes her as an R10 (10 ton steam roller), fitted to boiler number 1473 and erected by Walters. She was fitted with a water lifter and 217ft of 1 ¾” 2 ply Indian rubber suction hose with union and nozzle. A name plate with “WESTON HIGHWAY BOARD” was also fitted. It is also believed she may have been fitted with cotton reel steering, although Avelings are thought to have stopped using this system the year before. It is known that she had a form of deadweight scraper fitted. There is a gap in her history as little is known of Weston Highways Board or Bath RDC.

In October 1906 2941 returned to Aveling works for extensive boiler repairs. An entry in the hydraulic test book shows that she had a new boiler barrel with man-hole fitted, tube plate, inner steel fire box, tubes and rings. The boiler was then stamped with boiler number 5190 and marked with boiler maker Ablington.

She moved onto Barnes Brothers, Southwick and was No 19 in their fleet. This was possibly around 1906 when they are known to have expanded their business. It is possible 2941 was sold back to Aveling’s by Bath RDC, hence the boiler work and Barnes bought her from them. Barnes were a well know contracting company and owned several engines. The company was started in the 1880’s by Thomas Barnes as a threshing contractor. By 1890 he is recorded has also offering road rolling services from his yard in Southwick, Wiltshire. By 1900’s he was regularly working on County Council contracts. Thomas Barnes died around 1903/1905, and the business was taken on by his sons Henry & Sydney and expanded further. The company also changed its name to Barnes Brothers. In 1915 the company advertised as Steam haulage, removals, steam rollers & general engineers. They also established an automobile engineers in Castle Street, Trowbridge. The company continued to expand and in 1918 bought some new steam rollers from Aveling & Porter. It is possibly around this time that 2491 was sold to make way for the new rollers.

By 1921 she had moved to British Tar Spraying Company of Newark, Notts, where she was registered AL9463. Again little is know of this company.

From the British Tar spraying Co she moved to Lockwood of Westgate on Sea in Kent. Lockwood was a large building company at Westgate on Sea, owned by Arthur Reed. 2941 was kept in an open fronted shed at Westgate just off the dual carriageway on the Margate - Birchington road next to the Ursuline Convent. The engine shed still stands. Tax discs for 2941 show that she was used in Kent from 1927.

She was sold into preservation in June 1963 when she was bought by the Fred Pegden. The Pegden brothers owned several engines in the early days of preservation. They had an interest in 2941 since their brother had driven this roller for a living before he went off to fight in the First World War, from which he never returned. Whilst with Pedgens 2941 was always known as “the Ol’ Gal”. (They actually referred to all their engines by this name). The pictures below show her in 1963 when she was just bought by Pegdens.

Fred then sold 2941 to Trevor Lewis Evans of Herne Bay, Kent in August 1972. Around this time she was painted chocolate brown, and named Sanboo. Trevor attended a number of the old Kent Rallies on 2941, regularly driving her there under her own steam, along with many eventful stories.

She was sold at the Canterbury Auction to TG Philpott of Hawley Kent in 1975, and in 1989 sold on to Bill Hedges of Faversham, Kent. I believe that she was based at the Chatham Docklands Museum whilst under this ownership but rarely rallied. In 1990 she was sold on to Jim Bates of Ewell Minnis in Kent. Here she was fitted with a new tender and several other parts were replaced, including a new front axle.

In March 2003 she was bought by the present owners Matt Garwood & family and moved to Sudbury, Suffolk. From the first meeting with 2941 she was known as “The Old Girl” and the name has stuck. The Old Girl was rallied for 2 years, covering around 350 miles, to local shows, all at 2.75mph. In 2005 the firebox became too thin and she was fitted with a new firebox and overhauled in 2006 to 2008. This work was completed in March 2008 and the Old Girl once again has a healthy boiler. Full restoration is ongoing since she exhibits over a century of wear and tear.

Over the years the Old Girl has had many repairs and alterations. There is evidence that she was involved in a front - end accident at some point in her life since both chain guides show heavy repairs. There is also damage to her original smoke box (recently replaced) and brackets for the steering drum.

Other anomalies include the deadweight scraper, which are shown in pictures of her whilst with the Pegden Brother in 1963. These appear to be a mixed design between the earlier deadweight scraper which located off the cotton reel steering shaft and the latter sprung loaded scraper mounting which fixed onto a bar bolted onto the steering drum brackets. Unfortunately these brackets are no longer on the engine but the photos show a unique system not seen on other rollers.

  • Aveling & Porter AL9463 in Fred Pegdens Yard – Elham Kent – 1963
  • Aveling & Porter AL9463 when first owned by Fred Pegden at an early Kent Steam Rally in 1963 - 1964
  • Aveling & Porter AL9463 undergoing major boiler work in 2006
  • Aveling & Porter AL9463 undergoing major boiler work in 2007 - 2008
  • Aveling & Porter AL9463 at Aldham rally 2008
  • AL 9463 with Aveling NO1224


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