Brilliant Amberley Museum photographic day

Posted by Chris Graham on 21st February 2024

Simon Colbeck reports on the interesting vehicle he spotted at the recent photographic day held at the excellent Amberley Museum in Sussex.

Amberley Museum

Amberley Museum: Garratt 6nhp superheated traction engine 29764 of 1911 Olive and Wallis Advance roller No. 8104 of 1936 dwarf tiny 1-ton Trotter roller Owd Butty. To the rear Marshall No. 14242 of 1886 Victoria draws up on the grass verge.

Situated in the beautiful South Downs countryside of south-east England, the Amberley Museum is located within a former chalk quarry. Historically an important source of lime for mortar and agricultural uses, the Amberley quarry had its own kilns, the remains of which can still be seen today in the museum grounds.

Amberley Museum

After the storm Marshall 8-ton roller No. 79669 of 1925 passes the delightful period petrol station.

In addition to the road steam exhibits, the museum’s 2ft gauge railway was in operation on the day, and featured the delightful Bagnall saddle tank No. 2067 of 1918, Peter. This locomotive returned to steam last year after the completion of a major, three-year overhaul which included extensive boiler work and mechanical repairs.

Amberley Museum

Marshall 8-ton roller No. 79669 and 6-ton Wallis Advance roller No. 8104 sit in front of the Southdown bus depot.

The chunky-looking Bagnall was originally built for the Ministry of Munitions to 3ft gauge, and worked for the Canadian Forestry Corps in Cumberland. After the war it was re-gauged at Bagnall’s Stafford works to 2ft gauge then sold to the famous Cliffe Hill Granite Co railway in Leicestershire. An Amberley resident for nearly 40 years, Peter looked very much at home on a rake of skip wagons in the ideal surroundings of the old chalk quarry.

Amberley Museum

Burrell single-cylinder roller No. 3991 with traction wagon and living van.

In addition to the visiting and resident steam engines on site, there were plenty of other transport delights for the photographers to enjoy.

Amberley Museum

‘Red for danger’ as Burrell 10-ton single-cylinder roller No. 3991 leaves the museum on its way home.

One such highlight was the superb 1919 Thornycroft J type petrol lorry fresh out of the box after the completion of an outstanding three-year restoration by Toby Robinson. Although officially registered as being completed in 1919, the J type’s gearbox and chassis are much earlier, being a pre-1916 World War One type, suggesting it was either built for MoD stock or bought back from the army at the end of WW1 and reconditioned and resold by Thornycroft.

Amberley Museum

Recently-restored Marshall 8-ton roller No. 79669 Joan heads through the trees after the rain had cleared.

The lorry really looked the part with its eye-catching gold leaf lettering contrasting well against its maroon livery. The owner, having just completed the restoration, took the brave decision to road the lorry the 40 miles to Amberley; certainly an excellent way to shake out any teething problems!

Owd Butty, the 1-ton Trotter roller, and 6-ton Wallis Advance No. 8104 of 1936 pass Bagnall Peter sitting in the overgrown siding with a train of tipper wagons.

Another highlight of the Amberley event was the inclusion of the delightful one-ton, vertical-boilered steam roller, Owd Butty. This unique machine was built by Arthur Trotter of Coleford, Gloucestershire, in 1933. Reputedly constructed using the engine unit from an experimental steam car, the roller was used by Mr Trotter to roll the gravel paths and driveways around his home. Now in the care of Jez Kirkwood, this was the little roller’s furthest visit from home since its restoration to working order.

Bagnall No. 2067 Peter escapes the rain under the trees on Amberley’s 2ft gauge railway.

Both of Amberley’s resident twin Wallis Advance rollers – Nos. 8104 and 8105 of 1936 – were in constant action all day, showing their surprising turn of speed on the museum’s road system.  

Aveling & Porter BS class roller No. 8455 of 1914 Hengist sits by the bus stop during a break in the crew’s road-making activities.

Burrell 10-ton single-cylinder roller No. 3991 of 1924 presented a far more traditional form of roller, and looked lovely leaving the museum with its traction wagon and living van in tow. Another engine renowned for its superb condition in attendance at Amberley was Marshall No. 14242 of 1886 Victoria. This beautiful, single-cylinder traction engine looked so at home in the period surroundings of the museum. 

Tasker C-class traction engine No. 1709 of 1916 gives the passenger on Southdown 1929-built Leyland Titan a bit of a surprise as it passes close by at the bus stop.

Contrasting with the pristine condition of Victoria, Tasker C-class traction engine no. 1709 of 1916 really fitted into the working surroundings of the museum’s site with its slightly aged and workman-like appearance.

Toby Robinson is no doubt discussing the merits of his 1919 J-type Thornycroft lorry with the crew of Aveling & Porter BS class roller 8455 of 1914 Hengist.

After the showers on a delightful summer’s day, the sight of newly-restored resident Marshall 8-ton roller No. 79669 of 1925 heading off down a country lane without a modern car in sight really summed up the appeal of this event. The team at Amberley and the engine owners certainly put on a splendid day’s entertainment.

With thanks to Timeline Events

All photos by the author.

This feature comes from the latest issue of Old Glory, and you can get a money-saving subscription to this magazine simply by clicking HERE


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