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Shropshire
Wednesday, October 27, 2021

World Heritage Site museums close in on fundraising target

The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust is more than halfway to its fundraising target to repair a replica of the world’s first steam locomotive, a much loved road roller and another key piece of the industrial revolution.

Billy, the three ton steam roller built in 1903
Billy, the three ton steam roller built in 1903

The Trust, in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, 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, has raised just over £4,200.

Adam Siviter, Fundraising Manager at the Trust, 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. 

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“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.”

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