Wallis and Steevens No. 7572: Lady Luck


| March/April 1996



1917 Wallis & Steevens

Jack C. Norbeck

P.O. Box 514, Pittsfield, Vermont 05762

The Wallis family of Basingstoke, England were Quakers with many agriculture related businesses which they consolidated in the 1840s under the name of 'Wallis Brothers, Iron founders & Agricultural Implement Makers.' They also traded in coal and slate and owned several barges, carrying freight to and from London.

In the mid-1850s, Arthur Wallis established the North Hants Ironworks, building various types of machinery. He soon took on a partner, Charles Steevens, who was a good businessman, and the company grew and prospered. They sold portables and threshers from other manufacturers and made their own 'horse powers.' In the late 1860s they started building their own portables.

1917 Wallis & Steevens built at Basingstoke, England, now owned by W. Bruce Waterworth, Pittsfield, Vermont. Photo taken at Rough & Tumble by Jack C. Norbeck, author of Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines.

On June 21, 1876, they tested their first traction engine of 8 NHP. (British tractions are usually quoted in Nominal Horse Power which needs multiplying by about 7 to determine BHP.) It was a rugged but sound engine and they gained a reputation for 'blacksmith building.' All their boiler plate was hand worked up to the last engine in 1940. The early engines even came with corks in the oil holes instead of lubricators.

One of the founder's sons suffered badly from asthma and so was sent to South Africa for health reasons. This led to a good deal of business from the diamond mining industry for winding engines and other narrow gauge railway related equipment.