Steam Rollers are often overlooked in favour of the more glamorous Road Locomotives & Showman’s Engines. It’s not fair really, there are more Steam Rollers in preservation than any other type of engine, and they form the backbone of the steam movement. Unlike the bigger engines, they are affordable to the average man, and you can have just as much fun steaming around on a roller as you can on any other engine
The 2013 Great Dorset Steam Fair looked to redress the balance, placing the rollers centre stage as the main theme for the event. Rollers travelled from across the country and indeed from Europe. Nearly every surviving make and model was represented one way or another.
The East Anglian Traction Engine Society was well represented by its members among the 123 Steam Rollers on display. The photographs attached to this article were taken by our Hon Secretary Daphne Rumball and focus on two engines
The first being Matt Garwood’s Aveling & Porter Roller No.2941. This is one of the oldest surviving rollers from this manufacturer, and is regularly roaded all over the Suffolk/Essex border area.
The other being Chris Webb’s Robey Tri Tandem 44083. The Tri Tandem represents the opposite end of the spectrum in design evolution to the Aveling. The Robey incorporates many design ideas still used in modern day machines. This particular roller was presented part restored (having been acquired by the Webb family at the famous Tom Paisley Sale many years previously) and spent much of the week in the specially erected marquee
As well as the display of Rollers, the organisers decided to do something a little special. Previously, in 2003 the show has set a World Record for the number of rollers travelling over a piece of newly laid road, on that occasion 32 rollers set the record. In 2013 no fewer than 103 rollers set a new record, including the two previously mentioned, though the Robey had to be towed by the Aveling!
The steam roller special will go down as one of the all time best specials that Dorset has hosted, for many even going so far as to beat the 2000 Burrell Special