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Lord Roberts arrives at The Historic Dockyard Chatham

08 April 2019

Joining The Historic Dockyard Chatham at the Festival of Steam and Transport this year is the locomotive “Lord Roberts”

Arriving early, we got some great pictures of her steaming through the site – you won’t want to miss her over the Easter Weekend (21st & 22nd April) at the Festival of Steam and Transport!

Taken from the owner at Reality (Retail Property People), take a look below at the history of her…

John Fowler & Co. of Leeds was a leader in the production of an extensive range of steam engines and equipment from the 1850s. The company successfully exported its products around the world. The B5 road locomotive proved to be a very popular and powerful haulage engine, capable of pulling up to 90 tons. In total, over 160 were produced, of which 40% were exported abroad. Of the 5 or so still remaining today in the UK, Lord Roberts is one of the earliest surviving examples.

Holloway Bros. of West Lavington (Wiltshire) and London was 8903’s first owner. It took delivery on 31st December 1900 and the engine was used at the Market Lavington Brick and Tile Works. Holloway remained a family firm through several generations and became a leading construction company specialising in building and heavy civil engineering. It built churches, schools, public libraries and baths including the Bank of England, Admiralty Building and Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) in London. It is thought 8903 worked on the construction of the Central Flying School at Upavon (now RAF Upavon); the so-called “home of the Royal Air Force”.

By 1921, W.E. Chivers & Sons Ltd. of Devizes, a builder and Government contractor and timber merchant etc. took over the brick works and the engine was used for general haulage purposes.

During the 1930’s and 1940’s, 8903 was acquired by two amusement caterers; Marshall Hill of Bedminster (Bristol) and W. Cole of Ilton (Somerset) and used for haulage of showground equipment around the country.

Following a brief period with Arthur G. Evans of Wigginton (Hertfordshire), Tom Paisley of Holywell (Cambridgeshire) acquired 8903 for restoration. Some 20 years later, 8903 was sold at the well-known Paisley sale in 1980 to John Bailey of Borough Green (Kent).

John Bailey carried out a meticulous restoration during his lifetime over a period of more than 30 years. 8903 is now based in Sussex.

Related News

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Notice to Visitors

As with the rest of the world, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust is closely monitoring the situation around the global pandemic of COVID-19.

It is with sadness that following UK Government guidelines we have closed our visitor attraction to the public until further notice.

This closure also extends to Call the Midwife Official Location Tours.

Whilst outside of our control, we apologise for any inconvenience caused during this difficult time and would like to thank all our visitors for their understanding during this challenging period.

We are taking forward orders and enquiries for business ‘post lockdown’ – Master Ropemakers Ltd, film & TV productions, Call the Midwife tours, group travel, weddings, corporate hospitality and conferences.

Last updated: 28 May 2020