Aveling and Porter
Aveling and Porter was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 agricultural engine and steam roller manufacturer. Thomas Aveling and Richard Thomas Porter entered into partnership in 1862, developed a steam engine
Steam engine
A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.Steam engines are external combustion engines, where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be...

 three years later in 1865 and produced more steam rollers than all the other British manufacturers combined.

The partners

Thomas Aveling was born 11 September 1824 at Elm, Cambridgeshire
Elm, Cambridgeshire
Elm is a Fenland village in Cambridgeshire, England. The civic parish of Elm, had a resident population of 3,295, as recorded during the 2001 United Kingdom census. It is located alongside the county boundary with Norfolk,on the outskirts of the market town of Wisbech. The northern end of Elm,...

 and was apprenticed to a farmer where he had the opportunity to familiarise himself with the new steam-powered farm machinery of the time. In 1851, Aveling's interest in engineering led him to set up a business in Edward's Yard, Rochester, with his father-in-law producing and repairing agricultural machinery. In 1856 they produced the first steam plough
The plough or plow is a tool used in farming for initial cultivation of soil in preparation for sowing seed or planting. It has been a basic instrument for most of recorded history, and represents one of the major advances in agriculture...

. In 1860, the business moved to Strood
Strood is a town in the unitary authority of Medway in South East England. It is part of the ceremonial county of Kent. It lies on the north west bank of the River Medway at its lowest bridging point, and is part of the Rochester post town....

, on a site adjacent to Rochester Bridge
Rochester Bridge
Rochester Bridge was for centuries the lowest fixed crossing of the River Medway in Kent, southern England. There have been several generations of bridge at this spot, and the current "bridge" is in fact four separate bridges: two carrying the A2 road, one carrying the railway and one carrying all...


Aveling died 7 March 1882, at his home, Boley Hill House, Rochester.

The sole remaining building was demolished by Medway
Medway is a conurbation and unitary authority in South East England. The Unitary Authority was formed in 1998 when the City of Rochester-upon-Medway amalgamated with Gillingham Borough Council and part of Kent County Council to form Medway Council, a unitary authority independent of Kent County...

 Council in 2010.

The business

In partnership with Porter, the steam roller
A steamroller is a form of road roller – a type of heavy construction machinery used for levelling surfaces, such as roads or airfields – that is powered by a steam engine...

 they produced in 1865 was tested in Military Road, Chatham, Star Hill in Rochester and in Hyde Park, London
Hyde Park, London
Hyde Park is one of the largest parks in central London, United Kingdom, and one of the Royal Parks of London, famous for its Speakers' Corner.The park is divided in two by the Serpentine...

. The machine proved a huge success. Aveling and Porter steam rollers were exported to Europe and as far afield as India and North America.

In 1919 Aveling and Porter joined the Agricultural & General Engineers
Agricultural & General Engineers
Agricultural & General Engineers was a combine of British engineering companies formed in 1919. The constituent companies were assigned sectors of the market to reduce competition within the group. The group headquarters were located in Aldwych, London, but most of the member companies were in...

 (AGE) combine. Production of Aveling and Porter steam wagons was transferred to Richard Garrett & Sons
Richard Garrett & Sons
Richard Garrett & Sons was a manufacturer of agricultural machinery, steam engines and trolleybuses. Their factory was Leiston Works, in Leiston, Suffolk, United Kingdom.The company was active under its original ownership between 1778 and 1932....

. In 1932 AGE went into receivership
In law, receivership is the situation in which an institution or enterprise is being held by a receiver, a person "placed in the custodial responsibility for the property of others, including tangible and intangible assets and rights." The receivership remedy is an equitable remedy that emerged in...

, bringing down Aveling and Porter with it.

In 1933, Aveling and Porter combined with Barford & Perkins to form Aveling-Barford
Aveling-Barford was a large engineering company making road rollers and dumper trucks in Grantham, Lincolnshire. In its time, it was an internationally known company.-Ruston and Hornsby:...

 which continued to make steam and motor rollers. The rescue, part-funded by Ruston & Hornsby of Lincoln, involved the firm moving to Grantham
Grantham is a market town within the South Kesteven district of Lincolnshire, England. It bestrides the East Coast Main Line railway , the historic A1 main north-south road, and the River Witham. Grantham is located approximately south of the city of Lincoln, and approximately east of Nottingham...

, Lincolnshire, from the Rochester site. After World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 the company continued to make motor and steam rollers as well as expanding into other construction equipment.

Aveling-Barford is now part of the Wordsworth Holdings Group, a family-owned company. The company is based in Grantham
Grantham is a market town within the South Kesteven district of Lincolnshire, England. It bestrides the East Coast Main Line railway , the historic A1 main north-south road, and the River Witham. Grantham is located approximately south of the city of Lincoln, and approximately east of Nottingham...

, and still trades under the name 'Barford' which uses a modern version of the Aveling-Barford 'prancing horse' logo. Barford manufacturers and sells a wide range of site dumpers
A dumper is a vehicle designed for carrying bulk material, often on building sites. Dumpers are distinguished from dump trucks by configuration: a dumper is usually an open 4-wheeled vehicle with the load skip in front of the driver, while a dump truck has its cab in front of the load. The skip can...



Aveling & Porter built more steam rollers than all the other manufacturers combined. They also built traction engine
Traction engine
A traction engine is a self-propelled steam engine used to move heavy loads on roads, plough ground or to provide power at a chosen location. The name derives from the Latin tractus, meaning 'drawn', since the prime function of any traction engine is to draw a load behind it...

s and steam wagon
Steam wagon
A steam wagon is a steam-powered road vehicle for carrying freight. It was the earliest form of lorry and came in two basic forms: overtype and undertype – the distinction being the position of the engine relative to the boiler...


The company also built a few pairs of ploughing engines. A pair of which (unique in the UK) survive in the collection at the Thursford Steam Museum
Thursford Collection
The Thursford Collection is a charity trust endowed museum, located in Thursford, Norfolk. Founded by local man, the late George Cushing, its is now known for the scale of collection of steam engines, organs and fairground attractions; and its annual Christmas spectacular show, which draws over...

 at Thursford
Thursford is a village and a civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. The village is 16.3 miles south-west of Cromer, 24.5 miles north-west of Norwich and 121 miles north-east of London. The village lies 6.9 miles north-west of the nearby town of Fakenham. The nearest railway station is at...

, Norfolk. The Thursford Collection includes 27 Aveling & Porter steam tractors and rollers and 16 more by other manufacturers.

Another example of Aveling and Porters engineering skills can be seen in the massive covered slips at Chatham Dockyard
Chatham Dockyard
Chatham Dockyard, located on the River Medway and of which two-thirds is in Gillingham and one third in Chatham, Kent, England, came into existence at the time when, following the Reformation, relations with the Catholic countries of Europe had worsened, leading to a requirement for additional...

. These Leviathans of steel pre-date the great London train sheds of St. Pancras
St Pancras railway station
St Pancras railway station, also known as London St Pancras and since 2007 as St Pancras International, is a central London railway terminus celebrated for its Victorian architecture. The Grade I listed building stands on Euston Road in St Pancras, London Borough of Camden, between the...

, King's Cross and Paddington—traditionally understood to be the oldest and largest steel framed structures of the time.


Works Number Places worked/been/owner Name Arrangement Tractive Effort(lb) Weight Status Date Built Location Reference
Johnsons Cements Works,Greenhithe 0-4-0WT
Amberley Chalk Pit 0-4-0WT
121 Grays Quarries Co Ltd
129 Chatham Dockyard, Kent/Devonport Dockyard, Devon/Portsmouth Dockyard, Hants
Lodge Hill & Upnor Railway
2-2-0T 1865
151 Grays Quarries Co Ltd
167 Grays Quarries Co Ltd
182 Chatham Dockyard, Kent/Devonport Dockyard, Devon/Portsmouth Dockyard, Hants
Lodge Hill & Upnor Railway
2-2-0T 1866
218 Chatham Dockyard, Kent/Devonport Dockyard, Devon/Portsmouth Dockyard, Hants
Lodge Hill & Upnor Railway
2-2-0T 1866
718 Lodge Hill & Upnor Railway 2-2-0T 1871
719 Lodge Hill & Upnor Railway 2-2-0T 1871
807 Wotton Tramway/Brill Tramway (No 1)
Nether Heyford Brickworks (Northamptonshire)/War Department
Neasden Depot
Museum of British Transport, Clapham
London Transport Museum
0-4-0T (6 hp) 9.4 tons Static Display 1872 Buckinghamshire Railway Centre - On loan from London Transport Museum
822 Lodge Hill & Upnor Railway Steam Sapper No.3 2-2-0T 1872
829 Lodge Hill & Upnor Railway Steam Sapper No.4 2-2-0T 1872
830 Lodge Hill & Upnor Railway Steam Sapper No.5 2-2-0T 1872
831 Lodge Hill & Upnor Railway Steam Sapper No.6 2-2-0T 1872
832 Lodge Hill & Upnor Railway Steam Sapper No.7 2-2-0T 1872
846 Wotton Tramway/Brill Tramway (No 2)
Nether Heyford Brickworks (Northamptonshire)/War Department
0-4-0T (6 hp) 9.4 tons Used as spares for 807 1872
939 Lodge Hill & Upnor Railway Steam Sapper No.8 2-2-0T 1873
1023 Lodge Hill & Upnor Railway 2-2-0T 1874
3567 Beadle Bros, Erith
Erith Oil Works
Enfield Veteran and Vintage Vehicle Society
Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
Sydenham 0-4-0WT 9,033 Operational 1895 Chatham Dockyard - On loan from Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, Quainton
3592 Tom Price,Newman in northern Wairarapa
Tom Price,Petone
Puketapu Sawmilling Co, Matapuna
NZ Powell Wood Process Co., Rangataua
Ellis & Burnand Ltd., Ongarue
Marton Sash & Door Ltd
The Squirt 0-4-0WT Probably scrapped 1896
4399 Aveling-Barford Ltd., Grantham 0-4-0WT 1899
4445 South Suburban Gas Co, Lower Sydenham Gas Works Bull Dog 0-4-0WT 1899
5935 LBC’s Newton Longville Works
LBC’s Calvert Works
0-4-0WT 1905
6158 Mountfield in Sussex
Richard Garrett & Sons, Leiston
Sir William McAlpine
Sirapite 0-4-0WT 18 tons 10cwt Operational 1906 Longshop Museum, Leiston
8800 Vickers Armstrong Ltd,Erith
British Oil and Cake Mills,Erith
Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, Quainton
Sir Vincent 0-4-0WT Operational 1917 Private railway
9449 Holborough Cement Co. Ltd., Kent
Bluebell Railway
Northants Ironstone Trust
Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
Chinnor and Princess Risborough Railway
Blue Circle 2-2-0WT Operational 1926 Battlefield Line, Shackerstone

In fiction

Two Aveling and Porter products are found in The Railway Series
The Railway Series
The Railway Series is a set of story books about a railway system located on the fictional Island of Sodor. There are 42 books in the series, the first being published in 1945. Twenty-six were written by the Rev. W. Awdry, up to 1972. A further 16 were written by his son, Christopher Awdry; 14...

 books by the Rev. W. Awdry
W.V. Awdry
Wilbert Vere Awdry, OBE , was an English clergyman, railway enthusiast and children's author, better known as the Reverend W. Awdry and creator of Thomas the Tank Engine, who starred in Awdry's acclaimed Railway Series.-Life:Awdry was born at Ampfield vicarage near Romsey, Hampshire in 1911...

 and the TV series
Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends
Thomas and Friends is a British children's television series, first broadcast on the ITV network in September 1984. Until 2003, it was named Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. This series was shot on 35mm film...

 based on the books: George the Steamroller and Fergus the Railway Traction Engine.

External links

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