By Rod Ward
Here we have potted histories of the principal British makers of steam traction engines and motor tractors. Coverage is mostly confined to steam traction engines, portables and motor tractors used for agricultural, road traction or related functions. Road rollers are included where they relate to other engines. Not included in this volume are steam cars, wagons or buses; for those vehicles, see Auto Review 67. This book provides a concise history of each maker, along with a little background information about traction engines, tractors, and their history.
Among the famous makes are Alldays, Allis, Aveling, Austin, BMC, Burrell, Clayton, David Brown, Ferguson, Massey-Ferguson, Fordson, Fowler, Foster, Garrett, Hornsby, Glasgow, International, Marsahall, Mclaren, Nuffield, Ransomes, Ruston, Saunderson, Tasker, Turner, Vickers, Wallis & Steevens, and many others. Unlike the rest of the vehicle industry in the UK, most of these companies were not based in major industrial centres. From the mid-19th century rural makers and repairers of agricultural implements turned to steam power for their hitherto horse-powered machines, then found ways to make these steam engines self-propelled. In the early 20th century the internal combustion engine became efficient enough to allow for production of motor tractors, and the steam traction engine faded away. Through the stories of these makers over two centuries, we gain an insight into the lives of the men who found ways to add power to agriculture in the British Isles.