Buried Treasure

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Barlcylands Museum photo of Aveling and Porter Works #10114.

‘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.

Farm Collector Magazine
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