Unfortunately, the greenhouse gases from oil have replaced the water vapour from steam engines. On the road and on farms, the engines we have working were the forerunners of today’s heavy lorries and tractors.
Loads of 50 tonnes, greater than permitted today, were common. Pride of manufacture and ownership resulted in highly polished machines which often had a life of 50 years. The fairground soon recognised the merit of one steam engine pulling the fair from place to place and generating electricity for the rides. These engines are now highly prized and fetch more than most houses.
Many firms built steam engines but a few grew to be the major suppliers. Aveling & Porter from Rochester, Fowler of Leeds, Marshall of Gainsborough, Garrett of Leiston, Suffolk and Burrell of Thetford were the most well known and all are represented. Burrells whilst the smallest of the ‘big boys’ have the greatest percentage of their product surviving and over half the collection are Burrells; four steam rollers, one traction engine, one road locomotive and three showman’s engines.
Dingles owned over a hundred steam engines over the years and forty five still exist of which seven are here. There are also examples of early petrol and diesel engined machines and a 1918 Leyland lorry is displayed which has been owned since it was new. This was the first restoration which Richard carried out 30 years ago and it is now ready for another one. If he lives to be 1000 he may get everything done!