Buried Treasure

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Barlcylands Museum photo of Aveling and Porter Works #10114.

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'Oron' 11 Avenue Road Chelmsford, England CM2 9TY

It is fairly commonplace these days to unearth artifacts of long ago, especially with the help of metal detectors, but how often can you dig up a steam roller? Yes, that is exactly what happened recently in the heart of London, England.

The roller in question, an Aveling and Porter, 10 ton class F piston valve machine, Works No. 10114, Registered No. XD 8230, was purchased by the old St. Pancras Council in 1921 and is believed to have worked in the King's Cross area up to about 1948. In 1950 it was parked in a children's playground in Cumberland Market in the Regents Park Estate. A few years later the machine was thought to be too dangerous for children to play with so it was covered over with rubble and soil, grassed over, and became part of a landscaping scheme and was subsequently forgotten about.

Recently, new landscaping work and leveling was taking place and the roller was rediscovered. It was decided to move it to the farm of a steam enthusiast where an assessment of its condition could be carried out. The actual removal took place on 21st January 1990 with the help of a 1971 Tasker Low loader hauled by 1979 Scammel Crusader.

Initial observation showed that all the brass fittings had gone, as had the smoke stack, and the outer lining of the boiler will need replacing but basically it is in good condition.

It is estimated that it will cost about $15,000 to restore it to working condition and take two to three years to complete. When in steaming condition it is hoped to take it back to Camden, where it was found, so that it can feature as an attraction at special events in the Borough. The Mayor of Camden has said, 'As someone who has lived in the Camden area all my life and remembers the old Borough of St. Pancras, I am glad to see part of the local industrial heritage being saved. If we can find sponsors to restore this steam roller I believe it will provide a major attraction at local events. It will be a real eye-opener for young children to see a working steam rollerquite unlike the characterless machines of today.'

If anyone in the United States feels like being associated with this roller restoration and preservation, either by providing finance or parts, or wishes to find out more about its progress please write to Nick Dolezal, London Borough of Camden, Leisure Department, The Crowndale Centre, 220 Eversholt Street, London, England, NW1 IDE.

Continuing with the Buried Treasure theme, another story was recently featured in the National Press. It concerned a certain Mrs. Tucker whose husband died in 1973, and she wished to sell off part of her land. She called in a Valuer who found more than he expected. He discovered, either stored in old buildings or standing in the open covered over with grass and brambles, an amazing collection of vehicles which Mr. Tucker had accumulated over many years. These the Valuer thought to be worth much more than the value of the land and when these were put up for auction he was proved right. Amongst the many items there were two steam rollers, an Aveling and Porter and a Tasker. A Model T Ford was found, as well as an Austin Seven, a Morris Eight Series E and a rare 1916 Calthorpe. A 1936 Leyland Titan bus, a 1941 Leyland fire engine and a 1914 Thorneycroft lorry were also retrieved, as well as such items as a Moto Trycycle of the 1920's. The Model T Ford sold for 21,000 (about $30,000), the Tasker roller made 18,000 and an engine manual for a Lagonda 12 cylinder car went for 150.

Truly the case of finding a fortune at the bottom of your garden, as one of our sayings goes.

Pat Freeman is publicity officer for the Road Roller Association whose annual membership fee is $14. To join, write Alison Arrowsmith, 7 Worcester Close, Lichfield, Staffs., England WS13 7SP.