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Homepage. This page: Side-on view of a driver with his antiquated steam-powered motor-lorry.

Steam lorry.

Several steam-powered vehicles are dotted around the site. This as-yet unidentified steam lorry has been cluttering up the mystery photos page for years, maybe by promoting it to the main photograph archive, a firm identification will be forthcoming.
Unfortunately, the manufacturer's plaque affixed to the vehicle isn't terribly clear. It may help confirm an identification though, but reading the legend on it isn't possible. Thornycrofts, for example, were fitted with oval-shaped manufacturer's plates, as were Leylands (although the latter's steam commercial vehicles were usually chain-driven). Quite often, older lorries - petrol, diesel and steam-driven - can be identified by finding photographs of other vehicles with matching wheels. The shape of the coachwork may also assist. A close look at the front reveals that there may be a maker's script, fitted above what could well be a registration plate on the curved front metalwork.
Foden, Straker, Sentinel, Garrett and Leyland were all significant makers of steam lorries in the vintage era.
(Please click the thumbnail to view the full-size image.)
Vintage steam lorry and the driver
Driving such a machine was hard graft. Weather-protection was negligible, while firing up and maintaining the boiler pressure throughout the day called for a great deal of concentration, and not a little strength in order to shovel the fuel. Pneumatic tyres were, for this chap anyway, a distant dream. As a result, the ride would have been jolly uncomfortable, which on a miserable cold and rainy day, would be a real test of character.
Such vehicles gained popularity because, despite the aforementioned shortcomings, they were more powerful and easier to run than horses, which many businesses had relied on previously. Fewer men were required to operate these machines over their equine rivals, and as a result cost-savings were there to be made. One lorry could also transport a payload much greater than that achievable by horse, and required fewer rest breaks.
People involved in the equine business though resented the take-up of mechanised road vehicles. It may be appropriate then that a passing horse, has left his "calling card", on the ground close to the lorry.
Return to Page 19 in the photographic archive, or visit the main index here.
Pages for, and photographs of, other steam vehicles may be found on the following pages: Garrett Underfloor lorry, and Sentinel.

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