Traction Engine with Road Train
at Bonnyrigg Road, Eskbank - c.1906-07
Reproduced with acknowledgement to John Hadden, Edinburgh
Thank you to John
Hadden, great-grandson of the Dalkeith photographer, Thomas
Wallace, for providing a photograph of a road train at Eskbank,
Midlothian, towed by a tractor. In this picture we zoom in
on the tractor.
John comments on the
photo and asks two questions below:
Eskbank Road Train
"This is taken from a
postcard-sized photo of a steam traction engine with what appears
to be a road train, off on an outing. At a rough estimate, there
are more than a hundred people in the 'load'.
I think the location is Bonnyrigg
John Hadden asked:
tell me what the
"The name on the front of the engine
reads 'Mauretania'. As the RMS Mauretania was launched in 1906, I
suppose the name was quite fashionable just after that, so this
photo was possibly taken around 1906-7. That should also make the
traction engine quite new."
have sometimes wondered what became of the traction engine.
you know if it has survived?"
The Photographer and Family
"On one of the original prints of this
picture, someone has pencilled a small 'x' above the figures
sitting in the front row of the first wagon.
Given that I believe my
great-grandfather (Thomas Wallace) took the photo, I think that
the 'x' indicates the position of my grandmother and
John Hadden, Edinburgh: February 26, 2007
Can you Help?
If you can answer
either of John's questions above, please
e-mail me, then
I'll pass on your message to him.
- Peter Stubbs: February 27, 2007
Thank you to Mark Fellows, Cornwall, England, whose family owns
an old Edinburgh steam roller, for sending the following reply.
"I have asked a few of the traction
engine ’anoraks’ that I know, and so far can tell you that the
engine was made by Charles Burrell of Theftford England and is a
single cylinder engine of about the time stated in the questions.
The engine horsepower would be
approximately 6nhp, some think it may be a little larger.
At the moment, the only engine with
the name 'Mauretania' was built in 1911. It would have some
different features/design to the engine in question.
I have yet to hear from a chap that is
a walking knowledge of engines to tell me if this engine may still
exist or not."
Mark Fellows, Cornwall, England: February 28,
Mark wrote again the following day:
Traction Engine Number
"Possibilities for the engine in the
picture are either engine no. 2751 or 2833, both sold around
Edinburgh area with an outside possibility of 2820 which was sold
into the Perthshire area.
of these are 7 nhp engines which would fit the engine in the
picture due to size of some components (I'm told from the
experts!!). None of these engines are listed in the Traction
Engine Register as still being in existence. This does not
mean they still don’t exist, but the chance nowadays is very
"There is an engine of this make still
in existence with the name 'Mauretania', engine number 3297
registration TB 2848 built in May 1911 now in Reading although the
register has a sub note saying the engine is not complete.
It could still be a candidate if the
date of the picture is in doubt at all!
[Yes, there is certainly some doubt about the date
of the picture - Peter Stubbs]
The registration could have been added at a later date
with another owner in another part of the country."
Mark Fellows, Cornwall, England: March 1,
On reading Mark's
first message above, I asked about the abbreviation 'nhp'.
(nominal horsepower) is the power rating.
I can't remember the exact formula
without looking it up but it’s directly linked to the cylinder
diameter, e.g. 6’’ diameter to 6 nhp, but there's more
to it than that !
I think, from memory, that a 6 nhp
engine puts out something like 30 bhp (brake horsepower) on the
Mark Fellows, Cornwall, England: March 1,
Thanks, Mark for the
explanation. I'm learning all the time!
- Peter Stubbs
Thank you to John Robins who wrote:
"There is no number plate upon the
traction engine. Number plates were introduced on 1st January
1904. They were issued to all self-powered road vehicles on
the public roads, and were mandatory.
a) the photograph is older than
b) the driver or owner is operating
outside the law, and hasn't been stopped from using his engine.
It is possible that no-one was too
bothered about enforcing that particular requirement, especially
in a rural area that far from London. The engine is certainly a
Robins, Staffordshire, England: November 11, 2008
Thank you to Ron Dawe whose hobby is identifying and
researching old traction
engines and collecting photos of Burrell traction engines, for telling me:
"I believe that I have the details for
this traction engine.
It is Burrell engine No.3124:
- 7 horse power
- 2-speed, sprung on the rear
- New on 29 July, 1909
- Name, 'Mauretania'
- Originally owned by Peter
Davidson, Parkland, Eskbank.
- By 1921 it was owned by
Musgraves Ltd., Portobello, Edinburgh, and had Registration
- It was last recorded as being
for sale in July 1944.
Dawe, Rainham, Kent, England: email + 'phone call, July 29,
Date of the Photo
Ron mentioned that the traction engine in this photo appears to
be in prime condition, so he thinks the photo would probably have
been taken in 1909 or 1910.
mentioned to Ron, John Robins' comment that registration
numbers were introduced in 1904, but there is no registration
number on the traction engine in this photo. However, Ron
told me that registration numbers were not introduced on traction
engines until 1921.
Peter Stubbs: July 29, 2011