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Matlock: The Council's Steam Roller, early 1900s
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Holt Lane and Dale Road, about 1900



In 1896 Matlock District Council ordered a 12 ton steam road roller, costing £380[1]. The manufacturers were Messrs. Avening and Porter of Strood, Kent[2]. It was photographed, alongside its driver, on Dale Road, just below the houses of Kingsbridge Terrace on Holt Lane.

In early 1897 the Council discussed the insurance they had taken out as Mr. Wildgoose wished to increase the policy. They were paying a premium of £1 15s. per annum which insured the engine and property up to £500. The driver seems to have been covered by the Employers' Liability Act and would have been entitled to damages if he had an accident. "Bowler" was then in control of the roller, but no first name was given for the Council's employee[3].

The introduction of the steam roller on Matlock's roads was not without incident. On 4th January, so a few days before the Council discussed their insurance cover, a horse took fright and bolted at full gallop along Causeway Lane to the Bridge. The horse and and its cart belonged to Mr Boden, a Matlock builder, and was being driven by John Houghton who was dragged about 200 yards along the road. Several pedestrians managed to jump out of the way of the frightened horse. Fortunately P. C. Hill was on duty in Crown Square and pursued the horse, seizing it by the head, and bringing it to a standstill[4].

The identity of the steam roller's driver in this photograph is not known, but in the 1901 census Frank Allen was shown as driving it[5]. By 1911 he had been replaced by Walter Rodgers of Stoney Way, a young married man of 25, who was shown as driving it for the Urban District Council in that year's census[6]. He was still driving it the following year[7].


Photograph in the collection of and provided by and © Glynn Waite.
Researched by and © Ann Andrews
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to transcripts or more information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 12 September 1896.
[2] There is a page about Avening and Porter on Medway Council's Guildhall Museum's web site.
[3] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 9 January 1897. Insurance of the road roller.
[4] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 9 January 1897. Bolting at the Steam Road Roller.
[5] Frank Allen was living in Matlock at the time of the 1901 census.
[6] 1911 census. There are transcripts on FindMyPast.
[7] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 4 Jan 1912. Rodgers was fined at the Petty Sessions.