Road Locomotive Society

The enhancement of education and research into the past history of all types of self propelling steam engines

Sections of the Society

Engine Lists

One of the most important aims of the Society is the maintenance of as complete a record as possible of traction engines, wagons and rollers etc., which have worked in Great Britain and Ireland. The records are kept in two different forms and the Records Officer is responsible for updating them as new information is acquired. The owners’ lists are kept alphabetically by counties and the registers of most engine builders have been copied. The records have been in existence for some 50 years and with information from members, observations, scrutiny of periodicals, and from the registers of vehicle licensing authorities, have become more comprehensive. Information from the lists can be made available to individual members, and the Records Officer is always ready to deal with specific enquiries.

Image of part of a written page containing engine and ownership  information.


The Section Officer will be pleased to advise on any point in connection with research, operation, repair or restoration.


This section can provide detailed information on the works colours and specifications for painting, lining out etc., also detailed information regarding transfers. It covers principle makers, and is constantly being augmented.

Image of the Wallis & Steevens Ltd Basingstoke Transfer

Modern Photographs & Slides

This section covers the photographic record of the preservation era. The Society is aware that the history of the Road Steam Vehicle does not end with its commercial demise. Much of interest has occurred since the dawn of preservation in the early 1950’s and this section in concerned with the changing scene. Much of the material is in colour and specific interests are dealt with by the Section Officer. This is probably the fastest growth area with new material being gathered continuously through the generosity of members who donate their prints to the collection.

The collection of several thousand-colour slides is of engines in preservation. Where possible, we can provide digital versions on request to the Section Officer. The Society also owns a large collection of monochrome slides which are copies of old photographs.

Steam Tractor, from the Mike Squires collection.
Fowler Road Locmotive from the Mike Squires collection
A steam rally photograph.

Archive Photographic Library

This contains several thousand photographs of most makes of agricultural and road engines taken when they were at work. These are divided into three groups; firstly the general collection, secondly, the historical collection consisting of old and especially valuable photographs; finally, there is the exhibition group which are enlarged and mounted. The entire library has been collected by the generous donations of members past and present. Photographs may be inspected by arrangement with the section officer. We may be able to provide a digital copy of photographs for research use.

Photograph showing William Foster Number 3399 belonging to Simeon Bateman & Sons of Stourbridge registration Number FE 307
William Foster Number 3399 Reg No. FE 307
Photograph showing Green Steam Roller Number 1452 Registration Number BW 4848 in use of the Oxford Steam Ploughing Co Cowley Oxfordshire.
Green Steam Roller Number 1452 Reg No. BW 4848
Photograph showing John Fowler (Leeds) Ltd Number 9987 owned by Herbert Ward. Registration Number HO 5703 near Whitchurch Hants in 1928
Fowler Number 9987 Reg No. HO 5703

Portable Engines

This section is devoted to the portable steam engine in all its forms and includes folders of material with photographs of most makers. The Section Officer is always pleased to hear from members about past and present information, and is prepared to attempt answers to any queries.

Portfolio Records

This consists of folders of material created by editing the contributions of members among whom the folios were circulated. The library of information may be made available to members via an in person exchange. Titles are arranged to cover specific makes, types and applications. There are over 140 folios available varying widely in volume but all are adequately and some profusely illustrated with many photographs that have never been published. A list of titles is issued to all new members.

A page from Portfolio No. 44 dedicated to Foster Steam Wagons. The page shows an illustration of the construction of a Foster Steam Wahon Front Wheel.


The library contains over 1600 items. These consist of Makers Catalogues, Agents & Miscellaneous Catalogues, Sales Catalogues By Counties, Books, Miscellaneous Papers & Articles, Bulletins, Journals & Magazines, Steam Car Literature. These range from the early days of steam engines through to the latest publications.

Photograph showing Ransomes Sims & Head Catalogue Front Cover along with two pages from the inside, along with the front cover of The Development of the English Steam Wagon by Ronald H. Clark, a former President of the Society.

Engine Drawing Library

The Society’s Drawings Collection is now at the Museum of Rural Life at Reading. You can search MERL’s database by clicking MERL Database Search (opens in new window).


The reprinting of manufacturer’s catalogues and other small publications and books forms an important part of the Society’s activity. Not only does this make available to members some of the Society’s most-fragile and important items, but disseminates information to a wider public in line with the trust document and generates an important income.

Image of the front cover of a Road Locomotive Society Journal.
Image of a recent publication,. The Story of Ruston Traction Engines 1877 to 1937 by Michael Thexton published by the Road Locomotive Society.
Image of the front cover of a Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies Traction Engines, Road Locomotives, Wagons etc. A catalogue reprinted as an exact facsimile of the original.