Canadians appeal for help to save historic Grantham ‘steam crawler’

The Hornsby steam crawler in is present condition in Canada.
The Hornsby steam crawler in is present condition in Canada.
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An appeal has crossed the Atlantic to help preserve a piece of historic machinery made in Grantham more than 100 years ago.

The Coal Harbour Community Club on Vancouver Island in Canada wants to preserve and put on display the Hornsby Steam Crawler which was commissioned in 1909 from Hornsby and Sons in Grantham.

The Hornsby steam crawler was commissioned from Canada in 1909.

The Hornsby steam crawler was commissioned from Canada in 1909.

The vehicle is important because it used new crawler track technology which was patented in 1904 by Hornsby managing director David Roberts. This was technology which would later lead to the development of the tank used in the First World War.

The crawler was commissioned from the UK because it offered a solution to the movement of coal over wintery terrain in the Yukon which would also become marshy in summer.

The steam crawler was a one-of-a-kind custom-built tractor and is the only surviving example of the Roberts-Hornsby “chain track” steam crawler in North America.

Neil Smith, manager of economic development and parks in the district of Mount Waddington, said: “The Hornsby Steam Crawler has travelled far over the years from the UK to the Yukon to the British Columbia coast. It is now a public asset of the regional district of Mount Waddington, a rural local government area on northern Vancouver Island famous for its forests, fishing and wildlife.

“The communities of the region wish to give the artefact pride of place as a niche tourism and logging heritage attraction. In small rural communities such as ours, full scale restoration is not financially viable nor do the volunteers exist to maintain something like that once complete. It is our hope that Hornsby enthusiasts and corporate sponsors can assist us with conserving what is left here on northern Vancouver Island so that it deteriorates no further.”

Mr Smith added: “It will be extremely important, in particular, to correctly display interpretative information that explains the linkages between Grantham and the revolutionary technology that was developed there for a Canadian client as well as the military.

“Given her support for transatlantic endeavour, we hope that the late Lady Thatcher would have approved of promoting her hometown’s unique contribution to the early 20th Century industries of western Canada.”

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