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Preservation Pioneers

2 February 2018 - Articles Category

We recently took part in the NTET Preservation Pioneers event on Facebook, for those without an account below is a recap of the information shared.

Steve Neville

There are not many people in the steam world even today who do not recognise Steve’s name.  He travelled far and wide with his engines, often spending days on the road with “Boadicea”, “Lord Lascelles” and “Duke of Kent”.  He was involved with our Society from the earliest days, including editing “Steam Preservation” and writing “The Heavy Gang”, an illustrated history of his one-time employer Hickey’s of Richmond.  When he passed away in 1994 he was President of the Society.

Arthur Clarke

Arthur was one of our earliest members.  He attended the first Club rally at Saling in 1955 with his Garrett traction engine “Felsted Belle”.  Despite being a scrap man by profession, Arthur was responsible for saving a number of engines from destruction.  He is seen here on Aveling & Porter Steam Roller 8837 NO 1221 at the Kelvedon rally in 1961 after he purchased the engine from Essex County Council the same year. He held a number of committee posts including Chairman, Vice Chairman and President, and also hosted our 50th Anniversary celebrations at his premises at Felsted.

Peggy Gowlett

Not all our Preservation Pioneers are men!  When Oliver Taylor purchased his Fowler traction engine “Ada” for preservation in 1947, his daughter Peggy met him halfway home and steered the engine back to Wimbish.  She went on to learn to drive not only “Ada”, but her Uncle Ben’s engines and rollers,  taking them out to jobs or rallies single-handed.  “Ada” is now proudly rallied by her son, David.

John Downs

For many years, no East Anglian Club rally was complete without John Downs and his steam gallopers. In fact John was one of the first to restore a set of gallopers to steam power, when he purchased a Savage centre engine from Hunstanton.  He was also responsible for restoring the organ to playing condition,and all at a time when “Vintage Funfair” had yet to become a trendy concept!  A skilled blacksmith, he also restored his Burrell showman’s tractor “The May”, which would accompany the gallopers at shows and rallies.  Both the gallopers and the engine remain with his family and are still widely travelled.

Stan Burgess

Another name known far beyond East Anglia is that of Stan Burgess.  Stan lived in Haddenham, near Ely, and became fascinated by steam at an early age, following the threshing engines of the Peacock family.  A mechanic and blacksmith by trade, Stan restored many engines for Tom Paisley and others over the years.  His best known engine was the Burrell 3979 “Earl Haig”, which he purchased in very derelict condition and fully restored.  In the early days he drove her all over the region, towing his Mortier organ and living van, often with wife Rosella steering.

Bob Pumfrey

Bob had worked as a threshing contractor and farmer all his life.  He drove Ruston, Proctor “Success” from the age of 16 for the family firm.  When the preservation movement started in the mid fifties, it coincided with bob’s retirement.   His remaining two Rustons were cleaned up and rallied throughout East Anglia, including a trip via British Railways to Lincoln for the North Hykeham rally.  Bob also drove “Success” to Woburn Abbey, towing the Hornsby engine behind.  When Bob passed away in 1968 he was our President.

Ben Taylor

Taylor Bros of Wimbish, near Saffron Walden were renowned rolling contractors, with a large fleet of steam rollers, predominantly Aveling products.  With the advent of steam rallies, Ben and his brothers became very involved.  Ben purchased Aveling tractor “Lucy May”, which was a very familiar sight at our events.  Taylor Bros also owned ploughing engines, and a highlight of the local calendar would be when they set them to work in Wimbish.  Ben was President of the Club for a number of years.  When he passed away, he left his yard for the preservation of engines, and I’m sure he’d be pleased to know that this continues.

Charlie and May Brown

Charlie Brown was born in Rayne, near Braintree. He worked in his father’s business as a threshing contractor after he left school, until after the second world war.  Charlie attended the first Club rally at Saling in 1955 driving Arthur Clarke’s Aveling tractor “Nippy”, subsequently buying his own Mclaren tractor “May Queen” which he first rallied in 1956.  Later on he bought the Aveling Barford “Lady Helen”, which is now rallied by his grandson Will Childs.  May always accompanied him with the engines, and built up a collection of steam information and items.  Charlie was a committee member of the club, and also offered assistance and workshop facilities to many other engine owners and enthusiasts.


Raynham Hall pictures:

East Anglia has its fair share of preservation pioneers, and in 1962 a number of them could be found at Raynham Hall…

Tom Paisleyowned a large collection of engines near St. Ives in Huntingdonshire, including “Emperor”, which was the Burrell works engine, the Foster showmans “Admiral Beatty” and others.

Alan Bloomwas the founder of Bressingham steam museum and gardens, well known for rescuing a number of mainline steam locos as well as an impressive collection of traction engines

Dick Joicewas, at one time, the controller of Anglia Television. He was also a Norfolk farmer with a passion for bygones.  He organised the hugely successful Raynham Day rally, and owned a number of engines.  He was also responsible for bringing our hobby into the public eye via his “Bygones” programme, long before we had Facebook to do the job!

George Cushingneeds no introduction, as the man who created the Thursford Collection.  He worked with steam as a roller driver and contractor.  His vivid childhood memories of the fairground, with the organs, lights and showmans engines, prompted him to purchase a number of engines, organs and fairground rides that form the collection today.




George Swann

George had worked with steam all his life,  starting as a cook boy with Drage & Kent.  for over 30 years he worked as a roller driver for Taylor Bros. of Wimbish.  He purchased, with Charles Durrant, the Garrett Showmans Tractor “Lord George” from Fred Harris of Clare and was a familiar sight at shows, always travelling by steam.  He was also often seen on Taylor Bros. engines, particularly the Aveling tractor “Margaret”.




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