David Roberts: Tractor Pioneer Extraordinary


| September/October 1985

  • Hornsby tractor
    This Hornsby tractor was built in 1896. It featured a 20 HP oil engine of Akroyd design.
  • Hornsby engine

  • Steam powered crawler

  • 40 HP tractor
    Hornsby built a 40 HP tractor in 1903 on wheels and converted it to a tracked machine in 1906.
  • Hornsby machine


  • Hornsby tractor
  • Hornsby engine
  • Steam powered crawler
  • 40 HP tractor
  • Hornsby machine

Hurley, Berkshire England SL6 5LL

The following article, which is reprinted from Guard magazine, was sent to us after a friend sent Russell Jones a copy of the September/October 1984 issue of IMA. That issue contained a letter and picture from George E. Hoffman, 9312-173A Street, Surrey, B.C., Canada V3S 5X7, asking for identification of the crawler he had to restore. This article provides background information on that machine.

The Englishman David Roberts is perhaps one of the least known pioneers of the crawler tractor.

As the Chief Engineer, and later as the Managing Director of the company Richard Hornsby & Sons Ltd., of Grantham, Line, his design concepts promised world leadership at the turn of the century.



The machines he designed and built were at least a decade ahead of any other development being worked on in the world at that time.

The strength was his engineering capability and the weakness which frustrated the commercial development of his ideas was the weakness in sales and marketing.



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