Vintage postbag , December 1956

A day with steam

It was a happy gesture on the part of James & Crockerell Ltd contractors, of Durrington in Wiltshire, to stage a gathering of steam locomotives, traction engines and rollers for the delectation of a few of their friends and associates. This happy event took place on October 20th and that afternoon a fine procession of steam vehicles, including a 1903 White steamer, and supported by a 1913 T-head Austin replica racing car, took a short tour of the local countryside. Incidentally, it was interesting to see, as the engines turned out of the yard, what a much better steering lock the traction engines and road locomotives had compared to the rollers and agricultural tractors. The huge Burrell road locomotive “made it in one” and moved away with notable precision.

The engines present included a Garrett traction engine, three Aveling and Porter Invicta steam-rollers, and a Burrell steamroller, all owned by James & Crockerell and beautifully turned-out and lettered. Toomer’s 13-ton Fowler “Alfred,” the Wallis and Steevens Patent Motor steam-tractor “Anton Belle,” and two magnificent showman’s road locomotives, the Burrell “The Prince of Wales” and the Fowler “Lion.” There was also the well-known 1932 8-ton D-type Foden steam-tractor “Mighty Atom,” which has attended most of the traction-engine rallies and this summer was driven to Foden’s centenary party at Sandbach in a time of 18 hours from Andover. We were able to have a short run in this engine and an inspiring experience this proved to be. The noise, the warmth, and the multitude of tasks with which driver and mate have to cope really is something ! There are three speeds, with two sliding handles for changing them, real skill being needed to do this without coming to rest, while pegs have to be inserted to lock each gear after it is home. The Foden proceeds in a blur of piston rods, with a curious lurching motion, the driver operating regulator, valve setting and water feed, blowing warnings on the whistle, and steering with a small steel wheel needing, it appeared, about 100 turns, lock to lock. His mate looks after the fire, checking steam pressure on the big gauge, and changes gear. The vibration is astonishing, although there is full protection from the wooden-roofed cab and glass windscreen. The front wheels have been converted to roller-bearing hubs and carry pneumatic tyres but the larger back wheels are shod with “solids” and final drive is by a vast chain. Foot and handle brakes provide retardation, the foot brake being equipped with a ratchet. The water tank holds some 140 gallons and provides a range of about 40-45 miles, during which coal is burnt at the rate of about 1 cwt per 15 miles. We were indebted to Mr G Howell for this unusual experience, which piled on the nostalgia we feel for the freedom and fascination of an age now past.

Incidentally, the popular Andover Traction Engine Rally is scheduled to take place next year on May 11th. WB. 

Vintage postbag


I was interested to read an account of the sports Hillman, by Mr RMV Sutton.

I also owned one of these cars which I believe was the first one produced, so far as I can remember I bought it in 1920, in Cambridge. I also think the car was the first real sports car to be produced in this country. It was fitted with an aluminium body and had a polished brass radiator. Mr Sutton says he thinks that not many could have been built. I agree, as I never saw another.

I also enclose a photo of a Storey car which I owned in 1922. Another rare car. It was built in this country, with a gearbox fitted over the back axle, which needed one’s full strength when changing gear. It had a French engine, and went well, giving very little trouble.

I am, Yours, etc,

JS Kelsall,  Horley.

[I recall going to the Storey works in Clapham Park where this make was built—but now, of course, overrun by subtopia.—Ed]


Through the medium of your excellent magazine I am anxious to collect information of every kind on that extremely rare vintage car the Sizaire-Berwick. Photographs, technical data, together with articles and advertisements from contemporary magazines, are what I am after and should any reader have such details I would be grateful if he would get in touch with me. I can assure anyone who has such information that good care would be taken of anything he might lend me and that I will pay registered postage both ways.

I should also like to find out the whereabouts of any existing Sizaire-Berwicks and would be very interested to hear from the owners, as I doubt whether there can be more than a mere handful of these cars left in the country.

I shall be extremely grateful to anyone who has any information as I hope to know as much as possible about this fine and rare car before putting pen to paper about the Sizaire-Berwiek.

I am, Yours, etc,

GRG Benwick. Sanderstead.

[Letters can be forwarded.—Ed]