Engineer, Threshing and Haulage Contractors
Hampshire’s Hidden Taskers.

Hampshire’s Hidden Taskers.

It is well known that Hampshire Museum and Archive Service are the custodians of a number of  Tasker steam engines, most of which are on permanent display at the Milestones Museum in Basingstoke. There are however other engines that are unrestored and form part of the reserve collection at the museum service headquarters at Winchester. These are seldom seen in public but can be viewed by appointment.

Recently these engines were moved in the store so I took the oppotunity to photograph them in the open.

The first is a rather venerable traction engine works number 352 built in 1893. It is an 8nhp single cylinder agricultural engine delivered new to a Miss Moody of Kings Somborne, Hampshire, then later sold to Charles Enkell of Navestock side, Brentwood, Essex where the engine received it’s Essex registration number, NO 1060.

This a very dated design of engine compared with the products of other builders of the day such as Burrell and Wallis and Steevens , Taskers salesmen must have had their work cut out to get people to buy them.

352, or Excelsior to give her her proper name ended her working life providing power for a rack saw bench in Essex in 1954 when she was bought by Taskers for their museum.

Jack Field, one of Taskers employees told me once that he used to steam it to do demonstration threshing on Tasker sales stands in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

The second engine is Tasker C Type agricultural No 1776, a spring mounted 6nhp compound 2 speed built in October 1918. She was new to C.R.H.Thomas of Sedlescome, later being registered AP 9281. Taskers bought her from H.H.Naylor and Son of Maidstone for the museum in the 1950s

The C Type series were successful engines but came too late to make much of an impact. They were available in single or compound cylinder , the compounds having true double high capability as with Foden and Foster engines They were powerful and popular with their users, it is a shame that only 14 were ever built.

The third engine is another C Type but this time a Road Locomotive. No 1675 is spring mounted and has 3 speeds, she is the only Tasker Road Loco to exist.

Rather a short, stocky engine she was new in 1915 to Wright and Pankhurst, Rye Sussex where she received the registration number AP 9027. This company had a number of Tasker engines including other C Types. 1675 had a number of owners including Brighton council, she even spent time on the fairgrounds of the south in the ownership of Tom Smith. Here she was fitted with 2 brass twists on her front canopy supports. Smith had another C Type road loco and there are several photographs of them at work. The engine shows sign of a hard life as one of the rear wheels has had a heavy repair.

Taskers bought her from Frank Duke of Stenning for their museum in October 1954.

The last complete engine is the unique A2 roller No 1715. This engine was built as a 5 nhp single cylinder tractor in 1917 for the War Office but quickly passed to Wright and Pankhurst of Rye. She was converted to a roller by Taskers and ended her days with Kays of Horsham.Taskers bought her for the museum in 1955.

There is another engine in store but is in a dismantled state so no picture could be obtained. It is No 203D, a semi portable that was actually built as a traction engine in 1878. A single cylinder 10 nhp machine, it was shown at the Oxford Show in 1878 then sold to Mr Day of St Mary Bourne. In 1894 Taskers rebuilt it as a semi portable engine and sold it to F Beale and sons who used it to drive a sawmill machinery at their yard in Adelade Road, Andover until 1955. The engine was dismantled to be restored for display at Milestones Museum but was never completed.

Perhaps one day these engines will be restored to working condition for us all to enjoy, after all, the only way to see a steam engine is working, but in these times of cuts and the withdrawl of funding it is unlikely to happen in the near future. KL.