Brilliant steam ploughing working weekend at Stotfold Mill

Posted by Chris Graham on 28th November 2023

Simon Colbeck reports on a working weekend at Stotfold Mill, which saw the return of two very special steam engines to the ploughing field.

Stotfold Mill

What a sight at Stotfold Mill. Fowler BB1s Nos. 15170 and 15171 Princess Caroline and Princess Jayne of 1918, and K7 pair Nos. 14247 and 14248 Sunrise and Sunset of 1915, raise steam in the cool morning air.

A field next to Stotfold water mill, in Bedfordshire, provided the perfect location as four Fowler ploughing engines were readied for a day’s work on October 6th, as part of this popular event. Regulars at the Stotfold working weekend – 1915 Fowler K7 pair Nos. 14247 and 14248, Sunrise and Sunset, from the Saunders collection – were joined by BB1s Nos. 15170 and 15171, Princess Caroline and Princess Jayne.

Stotfold Mill

Scott Hall’s new purchases, Fowler BB1’s Nos. 15170 and 15171 Princess Caroline and Princess Jayne, of 1918.

The two BB1s was formally part of the late Richard Vernon’s collection, and had been sold at auction in June this year. The new owner is Scott Hall of Wichita, Kansas, in the United States, and he’s agreed for the Saunders Collection to look after the engines before they’re shipped stateside.

Stotfold Mill

Scott Hall’s Avery undermount at the 2018 GDSF, where it worked in the ploughing field area during the 50th event.

No. 15170, Princess Caroline, had made a surprise appearance in steam at the Bedfordshire Steam Engine Preservation Society’s Turvey Rally in September, but this was the first time the two engines had been seen in steam together at a public event for many, many years.

Stotfold Mill

Fowler BB1 No. 15170 Princess Caroline climbs the hill with the cable from No. 15171 Princess Jayne in preparation for ploughing. K7 pair Sunrise and Sunset are about to do the same.

To witness his engines’ first time ploughing since purchasing them, Scott Hall and his wife, Jennifer, made the trip over from America. Scott is no stranger to steam; the owner of an industrial services business that specialises in heavy transportation, repair and maintenance, he’s the owner of a large number of American traction engines.

Stotfold Mill

Scott and Jennifer Hall, the new owners of BB1s Nos. 15170 and 15171, with the representatives of Thermal Engitech from Ahmedabad, in Gujarat state, India.

His collection includes a mighty Avery undermount 70hp direct ploughing engine which he ran at the 2018 Great Dorset Steam Fair, and that’s what kindled his ambition to own a pair of cable ploughing engines.

Stotfold Mill

American traction boiler of welded construction, with replica rivets, at the Thermal Engitech workshop in India.

The Saunders Collection team had worked hard getting Scott’s engines ready to work again after many years in storage, and the pair presented a fine sight as they raised steam on an unusually warm October morning, beside the pair of K7s.

Stotfold Mill

BB1 Princess Jayne positions the Fowler four-furrow plough into place ready to commence ploughing.

All four engines were soon ready to position themselves and their respective ploughs, so that the action could commence. After some brief instruction from the Saunders team‘s Chris and Andy, Scott took his new purchases for a run around the field. 

1915 built Fowler K7 ploughing engine No. 14248 Sunset tows the six-furrow plough into position.

The two BB1s were paired with a 1921 Fowler four-furrow anti-balance plough, also purchased by Scott from the Vernon sale.

Fowler K7 No. 14247 Sunrise completes another pull with the six-furrow plough.

Once Scott has got both the BB1s over to his Wichita yard, he intends to re-boiler and box both engines. He’s intending to get both boilers fabricated in India by a company he’s used previously ND, to begin that process, two representatives from Thermal Engitech PVT accompanied John on his visit to the UK. 

Fowler BB1 No. 15170 Princess Caroline with the plough at the top of the field.

Chintan Parmar, a director of Thermal Engitech, explained that the company is one of India’s leading suppliers of industrial steam boilers and heating equipment. Its primary customers are chemical plants, distilleries, textiles mills and other industrial units, and the factory is based in one of the centres of Indian textile production, Ahmedabad, in Gujarat state.

Fowler BB1 No. 15170 Princess Caroline as the plough begins another trip down the field.

The company has been producing full-size traction engine boilers for Scott for a number of years, and these units are of all-welded construction, and feature replica rivets to simulate the original appearance of the boilers. It will be most interesting to follow the progress of this project when the boilers have been delivered.

Fowler BB1 No. 15170 Princess Caroline working hard to pull the plough up the hill.

Both the team from India and Scott and Jennifer enjoyed a superb day ploughing at Stotfold, with all four engines performing faultlessly all day. With both the K7s and the BB1s on the plough, the sound of hard-working engines and steam whistles rang out across the fields on a beautiful autumn day.

A meeting of two Fowler counter-balance ploughs at Stotfold.

At the end of a most successful day, both pairs of engines headed off into Stotfold village, for some well-earned rest for the crews and the engines. 

Fowler BB1 No. 15171 Princess Jayne takes a Fowler four-furrow plough up the hill at Stotfold Mill.

I look forward to providing photographs of the restoration as it progresses, and can’t wait to see the BB1s working hard on the prairies of Kansas, with Scott and Jennifer, as those fine engines begin their new life in the USA. 

Fowler BB1s Nos. 15170 and 15171 Princess Caroline and Princess Jayne of 1918 whistle to bring to an end to a lovely day at Stotfold Mill.


Last light of the day as the two Fowler BB1s head back to Stotfold village, after a great day’s ploughing.

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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