The International Steam Pages

Gloucester Folk Museum 2015
Arthur Trotter's 1933 Steam Roller

This is one of a series of pages which I have uploaded to illustrate facets of steam rallies we have attended in the UK. Such events occur all over the country in the summer months, they are easily found by using your favourite search engine and may have anything between a handful of steam engines and hundreds (as at the Great Dorset Steam Fair which could probably be fairly described as having an excess of riches). Click here for the overall index.

While names such as Aveling & Porter, Fowler and Wallis & Steevens are familiar to steam enthusiasts, that of Arthur Trotter will not be to most. An internet search will reveal a mention of his 1933 roller in Derek Rayner's Shire Album on Road Rollers and there is a minimal entry in the Traction Engine Register. However, the best source of information is the article by Mike Atherton in the December 1995 edition of Old Glory magazine. This unique roller is probably what would today be called a Bitza in that the engine is reputed to have come from a boat or steam bus and the rolls from pulley wheels. For many years, it has been in the care of the Gloucester Folk Museum in Westgate Street, but these days it is kept hidden away from the public gaze in a shed at the back.

I have known about it for some time but had never got around to visiting until September 2015 when I had half an hour free while waiting for a bus. A member of the museum's staff explained that they did not have the resources to display let alone steam it and I arranged to visit on another day when I would have a camera with me. The pictures show that it is very much a one-off freelance design, there were no patent infringements here!

The roller has a new boiler fitted in 2006 and earlier the engine was steamed on special occasions, but the tiny supporting group dissolved away. It appeared at the Great Dorset Steam Fair in 2004 but I don't think it has been out of the museum since then. However, that may yet change, but don't hold your breath waiting. (It has since been moved to Coleford and made its first appearance in steam at the Speech House Vintage Show in 2017.)

The first view once the junk had been cleared away.
The driver's platform and the gear lever connected to the valve gear. What I assume is a hand brake is bottom right in the first picture.
The drive mechanism and the wheel controlling it.
The 'top' of the engine part with governor.
View of the flywheel and engine arrangement.
Close up of the vertical cylinders.
General view of the engine.

If you like this sort of thing then try David Collidge's Steam Scenes

Rob and Yuehong  Dickinson