Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,160 pages of information and 245,627 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Aveling and Porter

From Graces Guide


1866. Tramway Locomotive.
1867. Steam roller on the streets of Liverpool.
1868. Traction engine and portable crane.
1868. Traction Engine with Crane and Differential Driving Gear.
1869. The first road roller in America.
1871. 20 horse double cylinder ploughing engine.
1871. 20 horse double cylinder ploughing engine.
1871. Engine featuring W. B. Adams' elastic wheel.
1871. Adams' radial traction engine wagon.
c.1871. Aveling's Patent Locomotive Steam Thrashing Train.
Mar 1957. Wotton Tramway Locomotive 1872
1873. Traction engine and crane.
1873. Steam Road Roller at The Vienna Exhibition.
1875. Ten-ton steam road-roller.
1876. Combined Agricultural Locomotive and Reaping Machine.
1878. Combined traction engine and crane.
1880. Steerable front rolls.
1885. The Inventions Exhibition.6 H.P. Traction Engine.
June 1888.
Awaiting renovation. Exhibit at the Thursford Collection.
1899. Steam Road Roller, fitted with Morrison's Patent Scarifier.
1900. Boiler.
c1940. 'Invicta' Trademark.
Exhibit at the Chatham Dockyard.
No AG372. Reg No: AUD 215.
No AG372. Reg No: AUD 215.
No AG372. Reg No: AUD 215.
1904. Light traction engine.
1922.Traction Engine.


December 1929.
1931. 14 ton oil engine-driven roller.
Road Roller No.6970.[1]
Road Roller No.6970.[2]

The Works, Rochester.

Aveling and Porter of 72, Cannon Street, London; 43, Exchange Place, New York; 9, Avenue Montaigne, Paris; of Rochester was a traction engine, steam roller and showman's engine manufacturer.


1856 Thomas Aveling produced the first steam plough.

1858 Aveling acquired premises in High Street, Rochester where he lived with some of his family for the next few years. Other children lived with their maternal grandparents who were wealthy farmers.

They acquired a workshop in Edward's Yard (near Free School Lane) and a foundry over the river in Strood that later became the Invicta Works

1860 At the Smithfield Show, Thomas Aveling of Rochester exhibits an 8 hp patent locomotive engine invented by himself and made by Clayton and Shuttleworth [3]

1861 Employing 82 men and 14 boys. [4]

1861 Started building steam engines to his own design.

1861 Patent for improvements to locomotive engines by Thomas Aveling and Henry Rawlinson, both engineers and of Rochester. [5]

1861 The main works were concentrated at Strood

1862 Needing capital to expand, Richard Porter joined the company and the name changed to Aveling and Porter.

1862 May. At the Bath and West Society Show, Aveling and Porter showed a traction engine that they had driven 190 miles from Rochester to Bath in under 48 hours. [6]

1862 June. At the International Show of the Agricultural Sociery they showed an agricultural locomotive engine for threshing, ploughing and general traction purposes. [7]

1863 Patent for improvements in the construction of traction engines to Thomas Aveling of Rochester [8]

1864 Produced their first engine to run on rails and continued in this market until 1926.

1865 They developed a steam engine and produced more of the machines than all the other British manufacturers combined.

1865 Their steam roller was tested in Hyde Park, London, Military Road, Chatham and at Star Hill in Rochester, Kent and was a success. Aveling and Porter steam rollers were exported to Europe and as far afield as India and the USA.

It was in 1865 that Aveling after experimenting with one of his large, road locomotive engines fitted for the purpose with very wide and heavy driving wheels and drawing a detached cast iron roller of width sufficient to cover the space between the outside wheels, decided to construct a machine expressly for rolling. [9]

1867 Produced the first steam roller weighing 30 tons for the Liverpool Corporation.

1871 Employed 300 men and boys [10]

1871 Aveling & Porter were requested by the Government to construct a light traction engine designed for hauling siege guns. These machines were named "Sappers" and were specially constructed so that the total weight of each machine did not exceed that of the heaviest siege gun which, at that time, was the Armstrong breech loader of 95 cwts. Many were built for the War Office. In reporting the trials of the “Steam Sapper”, The Engineer of September 22nd, 1871, stated that it was the lightest engine of the power yet constructed, and. that although only of 6 h.p. nominal, it drew a net weight of 15| tons up the severe gradient of Star Hill, Rochester. The Russian Government purchased a number of “Sappers” to this pattern and they were employed for hauling war material across the Dobrudscha.[11]

1876 The engine to which the Royal Agricultural Society's First Prize was awarded was one of Aveling and Porter's 10-horse power Locomotives, fitted with a single slide and ordinary link motion, and it indicated 3ó-horse power, with a consumption of three and one-fifth pounds of coal per horse power per hour, nine other engines competing. Not only was the First Prize for Road Locomotive Engines awarded to Aveling and Porter at the Royal Agricultural Society's Meeting, at Wolverhampton in 1871, but the Society's First Prize for the best waggon suitable for Traction Engines was also given to them, after a very complete series of competitive dynamo- metrical trials with waggons of all classes.[12]

1876 Exhibitor at the Royal Agricultural Show at Birmingham with agricultural self-propelling engines of 4, 6, 8 and 10 hp. Also a 12 hp ploughing engine and a 10-ton roller. [13] [14]

1877 Exhibitor at the 1877 Royal Agricultural Show.[15].

1878 Patent for improvements in road locomotive engines. Thomas Aveling of Rochester. [16]

1881 Action against J. and H. McLaren for patent infringement [17]

1881 Employing 260 men and 61 boys [18]

1882 Thomas Aveling died and was succeeded by his son Thomas Lake Aveling.

1882 Listed in Rochester as 'Aveling and Porter, engineers, manufacturers of steam ploughing machinery, agricultural locomotives, road locomotives with and without cranes, tramway engines, steam road rollers, portable and fixed engines etc. and st Strood' [19]

Under Thomas Lake Aveling's direction, the company concentrated most of its efforts on the production of steamrollers. Aveling and Porter met about 70 per cent of the British market for road rollers in the early twentieth century. The firm continued to make various products such as traction engines, ploughing engines, steam wagons, and tramway locomotives, but many others were contracted out. Aveling and Porter threshing machines, for example, were made by Nalder and Nalder of Wantage.

1889 Paris Exhibition. Electric Lighting Traction Engine. Illustrated. [20]

1894 Spring mounted engine. Article in 'The Engineer'. [21]

1894 Smithfield Club Show. Showed a road locomotive. [22]

1895 Employed 1,000 workers. The company was registered on 16 July, to take over the business of engineers, ironfounders of the firm of the same name. [23] Thomas Lake Aveling was to serve as chairman and managing director until he retired in 1928.

1895 Share offer. Directors are listed as Thomas Lake Aveling, Richard Thomas Porter, Edmund Barrow Chittenden and Arthur Porter. The works at Rochester cover about five acres with a wharf frontage of 742 feet. [24]

1899 Exhibited at the 1899 Royal Agricultural Show with a steam road roller fitted with Morrison's Patent Scarifier.

1900 Compound road locomotive and wagons for South Africa. [25]

1900 June. Royal Agricultural Show at York. Changes to their 8 hp compound engine. [26]

1911 Smithfield Club Show. Exhibited a road locomotive, steam motor tractor and a ploughing engine. [27]

1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices of Steam Motor Wagons, Tractors and Ploughs etc. see the 1917 Red Book

1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices of Petrol Motor Commercial Vehicles see the 1917 Red Book

1914 Listed specialities: steam road rollers, tractors, steam wagons, road locomotives, traction engines, steam ploughing tackles, motor rollers, lorries, "Morrison" scarifier for the roads. [28]

After the First World War, Aveling and Archibald Maconochie, a friend and neighbour in Kent, promoted the formation of Agricultural and General Engineers. This was a publicly quoted holding company which took over the businesses of Aveling and Porter, James and Frederick Howard, and twelve other firms engaged in agricultural and related engineering.

The intention was to rationalize the industry through the merger, but this was not fulfilled. The holding company's central overhead costs tended to outweigh savings from the limited amount of integration between the constituent companies. Aveling and Porter's business began to suffer, and by 1928, when Aveling retired, the number of employees had declined and short-time working had been implemented for many of those that remained.

1919 Aveling and Porter joined the Agricultural and General Engineers combine. Production of Aveling and Porter steam wagons was transferred to Richard Garrett and Sons.

1920 Showed steam road rollers, tractors and ploughing engines at the Darlington Agricultural Show. [29]

1932 AGE went into receivership and Aveling and Porter acquired the assets of of Barford and Perkins

1934 They changed their name to Aveling-Barford

1937 Became a public company to raise £320,000 with Edward James Barford, William Geoffrey Barford and George Ruston Sharpley as directors. Claim they make 75% of all rollers in the UK at present. [30]

After World War II the company continued to make motor and steam rollers as well as expanding into other construction equipment. Aveling Barford is now part of the Thomson group of companies, which also includes Moxy articulated dump trucks.

The company produced around 12,200 steam powered vehicles and there are around 600 preserved.

Road Locomotive

Steam Driven Engines

See Also

  • Further Reading: The Origin and Development of Aveling-Barford Ltd (1952)

Sources of Information

  1. Terry Smith, Wellingborough
  2. Terry Smith, Wellingborough
  3. The Morning Post, Tuesday, July 10, 1860
  4. 1861 Census
  5. The Belfast News-Letter, Saturday, November 30, 1861
  6. Trewman's Exeter Flying Post or Plymouth and Cornish Advertiser, Wednesday, May 28, 1862
  7. The Caledonian Mercury, Friday, June 27, 1862
  8. Birmingham Daily Post (Birmingham, England), Saturday, June 20, 1863
  9. The Origin and Development of Aveling-Barford Ltd (1952)
  10. 1871 Census
  11. The Origin and Development of Aveling-Barford Ltd (1952)
  12. Philadelphia international exhibition catalogue, 1876. British section
  13. The Engineer of 21st July 1876 p40
  14. The Engineer of 1st September 1876 p148 & p150
  15. The Engineer 1877/07/13
  16. Birmingham Daily Pos, Friday, December 31, 1880
  17. The Leeds Mercury (Leeds, England), Wednesday, February 23, 1881
  18. 1881 Census
  19. Kelly's Directory of Kent, 1882
  20. The Engineer of 24th May 1889 p436 & p442
  21. The Engineer of 22nd June 1894 p549
  22. The Engineer of 14th December 1894 p524
  23. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  24. The Standard, Tuesday, July 23, 1895
  25. The Engineer of 26th January 1900 p99
  26. The Engineer of 22nd June 1900 p650
  27. The Engineer of 8th December 1911 p594
  28. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  29. The Engineer of 9th July 1920
  30. The Times, Wednesday, Jun 30, 1937
  • Traction Engine Album by Malcolm Ranieri. Pub 2005
  • British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816