Updated 20 Oct 2012

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Photo 492


Taken about 1935, probably reg.no. VL 1442. (43755/1929), now scrapped.
Nameboard reads "Wirksworth Quarries Ltd" who took over the quarries in Feb 1925.
Chassis 4.95m, weight 13 tons, roller diam 90cm. See email

The Robey Trust writes:
Cylinder (hp) 4 " dia. (lp) 7 " dia. x 7" stroke. Boiler pressure 250 lbs.sq.in
Wirksworth Quarries bought 3 Tandems new: 43755/1929 (now scrapped), 44083/1930 (in Kent) and our 45655/1930, and had them converted into Tri-Tandems by Goodes of Royston using parts supplied by Robeys. 45655 is known to have rolled the Hertfordshire section of the M1 - Britain's first motorway - and various by-passes and trunk roads
In 1965/6 Walter Lisle, an employee of Wirksworth Quarries, bought 45655 (and 44073 for spares) on his retirement. He took 45655 to rallies from the later 1960's on; it was based in a yard in Great Wymondley. Due to ill health, Walter sold it in 1978 (for about 100) to John Mayes of Luton. After him, a dealer, then to John Woodley of Ipplepen. When John wished to sell, it was offered to the Trust [which couldn't afford it], so a share issue was launched in 1992. The Tri Tandem Partnership was established, raised the purchase price, and 45655 was delivered to Tavistock on 4th April 1993.
Wirksworth Quarries Robey tri-tandem steam roller 44083 Reg VL 2370 at Wittering in 1960 (The third roller mostly covered by the gent with his back to the camera!)

Steamroller, Wirksworth

A steamroller once owned by Wirksworth Quarries Ltd, unusual in having 3 rollers, converted from Tandem to Tri-Tandem about 1935 by Goodes of Royston using parts supplied by Robeys.
No. 45655/1930, now owned by Robey Trust.

Photo taken:

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Emails on the subject

    Thomas Bowden writes:
    The engine would be for certain VL 1442 as this had a slightly different frame design from the others. If you look towards the front, you will see below the frame a long thin inverted trianglular plate, only 1412 had this. Similarly, VL 2773 was the only one to have a sloping rear water tank, now it has a straight tank which I assume is from 1412. If only road locomotive manufacturers would stamp engine numbers on their products like railway works did, my job would be an awful lot easier.

    I scan all photos onto my netbook and then when I get the time I examine them in detail and that is how I can determine roughly when the photo was taken coupled to existing knowledge of engine histories. With the impending compilation of my booklet about the Robey TriTandems, I need as many photographs as I can muster along with documentary evidence of the work which these engines undertook during their lives.

    Over the weekend I received an unconfirmed report that VL 2773 was used in the preparation of the runway at Luton Airport as its last job. This now needs to be confirmed!

    Don't forget to look at Vintage Spirit which is published this week as my article and photos of the Tri should be published in this issue.
    Thomas Bowden writes:
    Thinking about your photo, it was not taken in the late twenties as the engine was not converted from a Tandem into a TriTandem until 1935 and it was the first of the three conversions to be done by Goodes of Royston. The quoted weight is around 13 tons after conversion and I would suspect that this is in full working order as the V5 document shows it as just over 10 tons. The length of the main frame is 4.95 metres and the front roll is 90 cm in diameter - how do I know this? I have measured the engine as I am producing a line drawing for use as a letterhead and when I get time I will do this!
    Thomas Bowden writes:
    I would like to introduce myself. my name is Thomas Bowden and I live in Ivybridge in South Devon.

    I am the Hon. Secretary to the Robey TriTandem Partnership which is based in Tavistock and I am one of the co-owners of Robey TriTandem 45655/1930 "Herts Wanderer" registration VL 2773.

    Your photograph almost certainly depicts engine 43755/1929 registration number VL 1442. This was the engine which was acquired along with our one by Walter Lisles from Wirksworth Quarries Ltd in around 1965/6 and was scrapped to provide parts for our engine.

    I am researching the history of the TriTandems and I am looking for any information and/or photographs of these unusual engines. I would be particulary interested in seeing photographs of the French built TriTandem which Wirksworth Quarries Ltd owned in the late 1920's.

    Your photo of VL 1442 would have been taken possibly in 1922 and it shows the engine having been fitted with a Spark Arrestor which has not been fitted to our engine since it entered preservation.

    Please contact me if you would like some photos of VL 2773 and I will email some to you.

    Best wishes, and I hope to hear from you soon,

    Thomas Bowden.
    Tel: contact for details.
    Lloyd Penfold writes:
    Whilst looking through the excellent website, I thought the 3-roll steam roller on web page X492 was a Robey, so I googled the type name and came up with this, www.eates.org/bits.html which says
    "In the late 1920's a firm named Wirksworth Quarries Ltd obtained from France a tri-tandem roller which appeared to work very well. So much so that, apparently having reached a patent agreement with the French supplier, they had three Robey tandems converted to tri-tandems by Messrs Goode of Royston and these were used successfully on such roads as the M1 and the Watford by-pass. Two of the three have survived, one of which, No. 45655, Reg. No. VL 2773, belongs to the Robey Trust Ltd of Tavistock, Devon, and is often seen at rallies. The other, No. 44083, Reg. No. VL 2370, was acquired about ten years ago by the now late Richard Webb of Sudbury, Suffolk, as a non-runner. Due to pressure of work little has been heard of it since then, but Richard's son, Simon, an EATEC member, has informed me that he is now in a position to take the initial steps towards a complete rebuild and he invited me to his Acton Works to see the progress being made."

    There are pictures of them as well.

    Lloyd Penfold

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