Fundraiser for Blists Hill steam engine passes halfway mark

A bid to raise funds to repair a replica of a historic steam engine has passed its halfway mark.

‘Billy’ the road roller
‘Billy’ the road roller

The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust has set a target of almost £6,300 to repair a replica of the Trevithick locomotive, ‘Billy’ the road roller, and a portable engine and stone crusher.

So far the Trust, which is a registered heritage conservation and education charity based in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, has raised just over £4,200.

Adam Siviter, fundraising manager at the trust, said they wanted to carry out work to safeguard the machines for the future.

He said: “Our Trevithick locomotive is a replica of the world's first steam railway locomotive, which was designed by Richard Trevithick and constructed by the Coalbrookdale Company in 1802-1803.

“Billy is a three ton steam roller constructed by Wallis and Steevens in Basingstoke in 1903. It was initially used as a small traction engine, but as larger and more practical traction engines developed many of the smaller models, like Billy, were scrapped or converted into rollers.

"Billy went through this conversion process in 1912. Later many were converted back into their traction engine form. As a result, Billy is likely to be the only Wallis and Steevens tractor still in its roller form, making it an incredibly rare survivor from a fascinating and crucial period in the development of road transportation in Britain.

“Billy operates for two or three-days-a-week and is the only piece of on-road steam in operation at Blists Hill Victorian Town. The engine is now very old and significantly worn to the point we may have to withdraw from operation to prevent further damage.

“The Portable is a stationary engine located in the stonemason's yard at Blists Hill Victorian Town. This style of engine could be easily moved to different locations on wheels, but would be stationary when in use, and could be hooked up to a variety of machines to power them, such as the stone crusher in the stonemason's yard.

"Our portable engine and stone crusher are in use every opening day and as a result have sustained heavy wear over time. Work is now required to prevent wear of the engine resulting in permanent damage and greater future costs.”

Anyone who wants to support the fundraising can do so at www.justgiving.com/campaign/BlistsHillSteamEngines

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