Getting in a lorry trouble

It’s all going on in the world of lorries this week. A haulage firm is trying to introduce a ‘super-lorry’ that’s 30 feet longer than a conventional articulated truck. Latest news is that the police have blocked it, but it’s a fast-changing story which I’ll be watching with interest. You can see footage of the double-articulated device on the BBC website here.

I’ll keep my own thoughts on this 83-foot monster to myself. Instead, check out the world of heavy haulage, Victorian-style. These steam traction engines were the big beasts of burden at the turn of the century, and you certainly wouldn’t want to be stuck behind this convoy on a narrow country road, as they were built for power, not speed:

Aveling and Porter steam traction engine, 1890s (Science Museum / Science & Society)

Aveling and Porter steam traction engine, 1890s (Science Museum / Science & Society)

These machines were huge. When things went wrong, they went very wrong:

Overturned steam traction engine, c.1910 (NMeM / Kodak Collection / Science & Society)

Overturned steam traction engine, c.1910 (NMeM / Kodak Collection / Science & Society)

You can still see steam traction engines at steam rallies and the like, and we’ve got an Aveling and Porter beauty in our Making the Modern World gallery here at the Science Museum:

Aveling and Porter steam traction engine, 1873 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

Aveling and Porter steam traction engine, 1873 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

The late, great, Fred Dibnah ran an Aveling and Porter engine. His BBC2 series based on the engine, ‘Fred Dibnah ‘s Made in Britain’, was terrific.

3 thoughts on “Getting in a lorry trouble

  1. Peter Turvey

    Aveling and Porter were most famous for their steam rollers, which smoothed the roads of many a town and city in England, Europe, Asia and even America. Without these often overlooked machines, there would have been no smooth roads for Victorian cyclists and Edwardian motorists. The Science Museum has a splendid 1880s 15-Ton Aveling steam roller, which spent all its life working for the Borough of Croydon, in the museum’s large object store at Wroughton.

    See the Road Roller Associations website for more history.

    hhttp://www.r-r-a.org.uk/istory.

    And in Avelings also made very fine “steam motor tractors” for fast light road haulage – just like the late, great Mr Dibnah’s engine, and her sister which I used to own.

    Reply
  2. Paul Davies

    Hi.
    Really enjoyed this short story about traction engines. The photo of the engine in trouble is a fascinating one. It appears to be an early fowler but one that belongs to a large contractor, Allans of Oxford. They where big steam plough/dredging, road haulage and road rolling contractors for the south west. One wonders how the accident happened as it seems the wire rope is out of the drum so the engine couldn’t of been on the road. Maybe it was doing mole drainage as it is near hedge. Its certianly ripped the ash pan off, though the chimney has remained intacted! Any more photos in the archive of steam road engines?

    Paul.

    Reply
  3. David Rooney

    Thanks Paul. Worth trawling through our digitised collections of images in our various websites (Google should give you direct URLs): Ingenious, Making the Modern World, Science & Society Picture Library and SSPL Prints. Lots of nice stuff! David.

    Reply

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