We report from the fantastic Beamish Steam Gala

Posted by Chris Graham on 26th April 2024

David Reed reports on the steam engines and rollers at the Beamish Steam Gala – Wheels of Industry, which took place on April 6th-7th.

Photography: David Reed

Beamish Steam Gala

Seen on the main street was 1914 Tasker B2 5hp steam tractor No.1592 that has been painted in a grey livery to replicate a 1908 works photograph.

Starting things off were three Tasker engines that really looked the part in the Beamish Museum’s period setting. The first was a 1914 B2 5hp steam tractor No.1592 which was built for Osier Clag Co of Wolverhampton. The engine had an interesting life to say the least, being used for removing slag from the steel and iron works for road material before being requisitioned for WW1 to winch timber.

Beamish Steam Gala

Seen avoiding the trams on the main street was 1902 Tasker A1 Little Giant steam tractor No. 1296 The Horses Friend, a popular engine with the visitors at Beamish.

After the war, it passed to the Snodin family and the Midland Rolling & Haulage Co. Ltd, becoming No.4 of the seven Taskers owned by the company. Numbers 1 and 4 were converted to rollers, but No. 4 was never used and stood near the coal heap at the bottom of their yard. It was eventually bought for restoration and passed through the hands of several owners, returning to its tractor configuration in the 1990s. It is now with Scott Lewis and family where it has been repainted in its distinctive grey livery that replicates a 1908 Tasker works photograph.

Beamish Steam Gala

Seen at the top of Pockerley Bank was 1924 Tasker B2 5hp compound convertible tractor No. 1911 Wanderin Willie that was pulling the trailer that it was supplied with.

Making the trip to Beamish from Scotland was 1924 Tasker B2 5hp compound convertible tractor No. 1911 Wanderin Willie. It was supplied as a convertible to Aberdeen County Council with a side tipping trailer, and initially based at Turriff depot in Scotland and worked at Aboyne. It was rescued for preservation by the late Bill McConachie. It later passed to the Lowe family of Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire. The trip to Beamish was the first time that the Tasker has been out of Scotland since 1957 when it was driven down to Chester-Le-Street rally, which unfortunately had been cancelled!

Beamish Steam Gala

The three Taskers together in the colliery area was a superb sight

The final Tasker at Beamish was 1902 3hp A1 Little Giant steam tractor No. 1296 The Horses Friend that is aptly named. It was bought by two old ladies in Crystal Palace who felt sorry for the cart horses that hauled their loads up the hill outside their house; the Tasker was used to pull the loads up the hill instead. Sold in 1969 it eventually passed to the RSPCA, continuing the support for animal welfare that was demonstrated all those years ago.

Beamish Steam Gala

Seen in the station coal yard was 1911 Marshall single-cylinder general purpose engine No. 55924, along with its reflection after heavy rain.

Moving on, also to be seen on the museum’s roads was 1931 Foster 8hp general purpose engine No. 14622 Sir William. Used for threshing for almost all its life, this engine was exhibited at The Royal Show in Manchester in 1931 before working in Lincolnshire for William Boodle and later the Howling Brothers of Horncastle. Passing into preservation with Ken Steward of Suffolk in 1960, it passed to Harold Hodgkins of Stafford in 1998, and was a popular engine at Beamish over the weekend.

Beamish Steam Gala

Seen working hard on the climb up Pockerley Bank was 1911 Marshall single-cylinder general purpose engine No. 55924.

The only Burrell at the extravaganza was John Johnson’s 1921 Gold Medal 4hp tractor, Little Dorothy. It started its working life with Austins of Malpas on a lend-lease scheme, but ended up back at Burrells from whom it was bought by Isaac Balls who converted it to a roller for use in the Blackburn area. It passed to the Johnson family and was converted back to a tractor, named Harvester and employed on threshing duties, later reverting to the name Little Dorothy after John’s wife.

Beamish Steam Gala

Seen heading around the roads at Beamish was Will Woodward’s 1913 McLaren 12-ton 8hp road locomotive No 1421 Captain Scott.

Moving on to the Marshall name, Chris and Laura Lawson of Gillingham, Dorset had made the trip north with their ex colonial 1911 8hp single cylinder GP engine No. 55924. Originally ordered by Messrs. Alfred Shaw of Townsville, Australia, it spent its working life in an area of the country known as Gemfields. After coming back to the UK in 2000, it passed through the hands of several owners, before receiving a complete seven-year restoration.

Beamish Steam Gala

Seen working hard climbing Pockerley Bank at Beamish was David Bickerdike’s 1904 Aveling & Porter R6 road roller No. 5499 that spent its working life in Germany, being repatriated around 2009.

Also being driven round Beamish was 1906 Clayton & Shuttleworth single-cylinder 5hp GP engine Louise. It was delivered to The Marquis of Zetland at Richmond in North Yorkshire as a 5hp convertible engine. Life was varied after that, passing to Ashington Coal Company in Northumberland for threshing and timber work, then converted to a roller in 1921 by the Roads and Drainage department, being used until 1951 when it was scrapped. It was bought from the scrapyard in 1971 and restored, it is the only 5hp convertible engine known to exist.

Beamish Steam Gala

Getting a lot of attention was Peter Rigg’s 1921 Aveling & Porter Model FGP end tipper Lady Fiona. It is seen on the road at Beamish.

The only Fowler on show was the ever-popular 1925 Fowler B6 road locomotive No. 16263 Talisman that was built for the heavy haulage firm of Norman E Box of Manchester. It has been completely rebuilt from a kit of old original and new parts, back to ‘as new’ specification,  while also no stranger to heavy haulage was Will Woodward’s superb 1913 McLaren 12-ton 8hp road locomotive No 1421 Captain Scott which appears to have had a hard life overall. At the end of the war, the McLaren was used for general haulage and threshing until it entered preservation in 1955, being bought by Will Woodward in 2019 and has graced the rally scene in the last couple of years.

Seen on the main street was Andrew Cook’s 1923 Aveling & Porter E type roller No. 10707 Pegasus that was new to Crook Urban District Council, passing into preservation in 1962.

As usual, the Aveling & Porter name was well-represented at Beamish. Here Mike and Des Brown’s 1921 Aveling & Porter Class M 6hp convertible tractor No. 10156 Majestic was to be seen. This engine was new to Dunfermline DC and remained in Fife all its working life repairing roads. Eventually ending up in a local scrapyard, it survived the cutter’s torch after passing to a new owner, being bought by Mike and Des in the mid-1990s and fully restored.

Seen heading back to base was Des and Mike Brown’s 1921 Aveling & Porter Class M 6hp convertible tractor No. 10156 Majestic.

1923 A&P E type roller No. 10707 Pegasus is a north-east engine through and through. New to Crook UDC, it entered preservation in 1962, remaining in the North East, initially with the Wakefield family who owned the roller for around 20 years. It then passed to Andrew’s father, Donald Cook, before being bought by a new owner in the Midlands during 1983. After standing in a shed until 2018, it was bought back by Andrew, and has been exhibited in the north-east ever since. Continuing the roller theme was David Bickerdyke’s Beamish resident 1904 A&P R6 road roller No. 5499, it is a firm favourite at the museum. This roller spent its working life overseas and was bought from Nuremburg, Germany in around 2012 with a full restoration following.

Seen making it to the top of Pockerley Bank with no trouble at all was Ian Hutchinson’s 1929 Foden tractor No. 13218 Cestria.

Rounding off the Aveling & Porter steamers at Beamish was Peter Rigg’s rare 1921 model FGP end tipper Lady Fiona. Getting a lot of attention over the weekend, this vehicle was built by Garrett’s under AGE agreement for Aveling & Porter and was exported to Australia on January 21 1922. Initially with Noyce Brothers, it was then sold, for work, for councils at Gudgecony and Mudgee, being last used at a gold mine at Mudgee before being brought back to the UK by Tom Varley in February 1978 for restoration.

Heading around the museum’s road was 1916 Foden 5-ton tipper No 7768 with its period trailer in tow.

This wasn’t the only steam wagon to be seen over the weekend though; a trio of Fodens was also in evidence. First up was Ian Thompson’s 1928 tractor No 13218 Cestria that was initially built as a six-wheel winch wagon for Dixons of Lanchester, before later being cut down to a tractor for timber extraction. It worked at Fadmoor and Great Ayton before the war, and was bought in 1955 in derelict condition out of a sawmill, for preservation by Henry Thompson.

Taking it easy around the road system before tackling Pockerley Bank is the Webb family’s 1932 Foden D Type timber tractor No. 14078 Mighty Atom.

Also catching the eye was Michael Wilkinson’s 1916 Foden 5-ton tipper No 7768, which was built for the War Department as a special batch with unique tipping gear. It spent most of its life in France, originally building roads behind the front lines during WWI, later being sold to Blacks, chicory merchants of Route D’ Arras at Cambrai Nord. After being bought and used by the Leroux Company from 1925 to 1948 to make trips from the factory to the station, it ended up in a scrap yard from where it was rescued by a Monsieur Dreye in 1955.

Seen on the road around Beamish was 1931 Sentinel DG4 waggon No. 8454, which really stood out in the sunshine.

Equally impressive was the Webb family’s 1932 Foden D Type timber tractor No. 14078 Mighty Atom, which had certainly caused a stir when seen pulling its load of timber around the museum site. Originally with Astell Brothers from Bedford, it moved onto the fairground with West Country Showman Percy Coles and family, being used with their gondolas. It passed into preservation in 1952 moving on to the present owners in 1982.

Seen on the roads around Beamish was 1931 Foster 8hp traction engine No. 14622 Sir William, a popular engine throughout the weekend.

Completing this section was Andrew Cook and Son’s 1931 Sentinel DG4 waggon No. 8454 which was bought from Ireland where it carried a grain tipper and wore the livery of grain merchants James & Sons. Now based in Scotland, the DG4 has been completely rebuilt and is now in the livery of Belliston Quarry at Leven in Fife.

Enjoying the sunshine was 1906 Clayton & Shuttleworth single cylinder 5hp GP engine Louise that worked on threshing and timber work before being converted to a roller.

The event had to be classed as another success, with large crowds in attendance throughout the weekend, despite the rather blustery weather.

Seen on the roadway around the museum was John Johnson’s 1921 Burrell Gold Medal 4hp tractor, Little Dorothy that has attended rallies for many years.

The report 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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