During the Victorian era, industry was transformed by the application of steam power. Mobile
steam engines continued that process by mechanising agriculture and road haulage. Specialised
machines soon evolved for diverse tasks such as road rolling, cranes, ploughing and the
showman's requirement for haulage, electrical power and ornament to outshine his competitor.
Fowler even built some modified road rollers specially for crushing diamond ores in South
Africa, and steam-powered lorries of familiar, modern outline were popular before the diesel
engine reigned supreme.
Although replaced in function by internal combustion engines, the steam engine lives on in
stirring tribute to the engineers who created them. The live steam exhibits are therefore among
the most popular in the Transport Festival. During the day, most of the traction engines will
be found around the town. The effort involved in maintaining a full-sized engine in operating
condition is immense, and the logistics of transporting one to the Festival should not be
It's ironic that this engine is sharing a lift with a machine that would replace it in a later
Almost every characteristic of the prototype can be found in the superb scale models built by
highly-skilled enthusiasts. Frequently as large as quarter-size, these are by no means toys
and are capable of performing real haulage tasks.
Although raising steam is faster than on full-sized engines, it still takes too long for
These machines must be properly registered to travel on public roads, so some of them will
only be found on the Festival field. Others may be seen about the town, and in the parades.
Here's one that seems to be heading to the local supermarket for supplies!
Many full-size steam engines take part in the parades, but not in the road runs due to the
limitations of the roads that are traversed. In 1999 a model steam wagon completed the
circuit of the Great Orme on the Sunday evening.