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Love Steam - Steam Market Picks Up

These two engines 1915 Burrell Gold Medal 3689 Sunrise & 1904 Fowler 9971 D2 showmans Candy Floss, sold for £350,000 between them

Love Steam - Steam Market Picks Up

The steam scene sales market has been in the doldrums over the past five years with prices steadily on the decline by as much as 42 percent, yes that much!

However, the market showed a glimmer of hope on April 16. At an annual collective at Sutton, Cambridge, the 1915 Marshall 16 hp double-high pressure portable 69222 with a none too good boiler report when I looked at it in 2006, sold for £8,000. The engine was very complete and had worked for the Earl of Spencer’s Althrope Estate in the saw mill at one time.

The sale highlight however was the model section, when some £72,000 was paid for a pair of excellent 4in scale Fowler BB1 steam ploughing engines that were built for the late Gordon Brooke by G E Stubbs of Metool Products, Notts. The 6in scale Fowler Norman Box used heavy haulage 16 solid tyred trailer went on to sell for a resounding £47,000, both going to Scotland.

Thursday 28 April saw a good crowd of potential buyers arriving for the bi-annual Toy and Transport sale at Watsons of Heathfield sale rooms, which are positioned alongside Heathfield Market in East Sussex.

The last steam roller was sold here over ten years ago now, when 1921 Aveling & Porter 10043 Morning Star came under the hammer and which today lives less than half a mile from the sale rooms.

This time it was the turn of 1922 Aveling & Porter road roller 10465 FX9866. This eight ton C type was supplied new in December 1922 to Eddison Steam Roller Company Ltd, fleet number 437, and worked from its Epsom depot. It was licensed for so many years at Kesteven County Council’s offices, finishing up in 1964. It carried an Allen scarifier all its life, which was included in the sale.

The engine ended up with Maidstone Corporation, Kent with the intention that it would be used as a playground roller. However that didn’t happen and it was sold untouched, just as it had last worked. Later it was with Tom Jarvis of Goudhurst and was kept for many years at Collier Street, opposite the International Speedway/Grasstrack site where many famous world champions have ridden.

Sadly the roller’s owner passed away and eventually, by the time of the Heathfield sale, all the semistripped parts had been found for the engine. At some stage a replacement smokebox and a retube have been carried out on the roller, although that was some decades ago now.

As for the condition of the boiler, it’s wasted in front of the cylinder block, the standard place for problems on these engines. The condition of the firebox was difficult to assess here. The tender is original and looked to be quite wasted in places.

After auctioning the first 200 or so lots, Tim Watson stood down for Debbie Patrick to take the stand, a formidable auctioneer in her own right. The engine went on to sell for £25,300 (plus 10 percent commission and VAT on that). It was sold to Kevin Daniels of Great Chart, Kent, a keen classic Rolls Royce/Bentley owner, amongst other things.

Moving on to Saturday 30 April down at Nutwell Court, Lympstone, near Exeter EX8 5AN, where I had visited the Sandy Bay reserve collection in late March, when in the area.

There were to be just three lots in this auction, but each one was a steam engine and all part of the museum collection built up by the late John Lee. His sons have carried on the museum, but a number of engines needed to be sold to make room for other activities in the museum just a few miles away by the caravan site they run.

The sale was conducted by John Wakeham working through Kivells. It started with the 1915 Burrell 5hp Gold Medal tractor Sunrise, a delightful example of this very popular marque on strakes and with good boiler work, but needing some gears and a repaint.

Bidding rose to a very respectable £200,000 at which point the hammer dropped in favour of Robert Tyler of Whatton in the Vale, Nottinghamshire.

Next in line was the rare and upstanding 1920 Foden 9052 8hp traction Rob Roy that lived in Kent for a while. The boiler work was excellent and new rubbers on the wheels, however it needed a rebore we are told, as it’s gutless on the road. It was sold for £150,000 to Michael Dreelan of Aberdeen.

Last on was a ‘nifty’ 1904 Fowler D2 5hp three-speed road locomotive that spent some of its life in showland use and was called Candy Floss. Possibly in need of a firebox and other boilerwork and some gears, the engine was clean and all together in its non-original blue livery. Bidding for this engine finished at £150,000, the purchaser being J Smith of Wessington, Derbyshire.

One can only conclude that trade in steam engines is on the up again, which is pleasing to see, as some of the Lee engines had been offered before, but there hadn’t been any takers; that all changed this time out.

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Love Steam - from p. 16 of issue June 2016
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