Full steam ahead for Northampton’s restored roller

Three years after being found rusting in pieces, a steam roller built in Northampton in 1899, has taken its first journey under its own power.

The Allchin roller was found in undergrowth at Northampton Borough Council’s Westbridge depot in 2009.

But following a three-year restoration campaign, the machine chugged back into life during the annual Vintage Gathering at the Northampton & LamportRailway in Chapel Brampton at the weekend.

Kingsthorpe resident, Sharon Skinner, who led the restoration with her husband, Julian, was one of the first people to drive the restored vehicle.

She said: “It was a great feeling. I felt as high as a kite standing up there on the footplate.

“And everyone who’s seen it has said we’ve done a great job.

“To see it rolling again is absolutely brilliant.”

The 113-year-old steamroller was built at the Globe works in Southbridge, Northampton.

It was used to create miles of roads around Northampton until it was retired in 1954.

It then became a celebrity vehicle, regularly appearing at the front of the town’s annual carnival until it was finally left to rust at the council depot during the 1990s.

Crowds of steam enthusiats who flocked to see it at the weekend saw it in steam for the first time in years after it passed its boiler test at 11pm on Friday .

Mr Skinner said: “It’s tremendous to see it in steam again. You can now really smell it and hear it working and crowds of people have loved seeing it rolling again.”

The roller can now manage a top speed of 4mph. Its restoration cost was about £65,000 which included a £50,000 grant from the National Lottery.

The roller was built by the William Allchin company at the Globe works in Southbridge.

It is now the only one of its kind left in the world.

The majority of the rusted remains of the roller, unearthed in 2009, are included in the restored vehicle, including the rollers and the majority of the boiler.

The roller will not have to be restored again for another 30 years, although it will be stripped down and checked in a decade and tested every year.