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© Steam Plough Club 2019

Steam Plough Club, Woodside, Roadwater, Watchet, Somerset, TA23 0RG

Registered in England and Wales, Company No. 07750299


Plough Engine & Van


There are new rules for applying for Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) for road engines including ploughing engines.  These came into force in May 2018.

To obtain VED at the zero rate ploughing engine (and other traction engine)  keepers will have to apply for an exemption via DVLA form V112G and quoting Category 26.

There has been a great deal of confusion on this matter and advice you may have seen from elsewhere may have been incorrect.  There is no general exemption for road steam as reported previously.

SPC will continue to argue that the only sensible way forward is a general exemption for steam despite representations to government. SPC members may well question why they have to seek an exemption for a test that doesn’t exist for ploughing engines. It is not sensible.  

To use an untaxed vehicle (even at the zero rate) can have implications for road insurance and may draw engines on the road to the attention of the constabulary.

Updates will be posted on the website

John Billard      24 September 2018

McAlpine  engine



SPC member No 36.

We are very sorry to hear of the death on 4 March of Sir William (Bill) McAlpine.  He joined the Steam Plough Club in 1967 almost as a founder member and remained with the club for 26 years when he sold his road steam collection. This included McLaren 12 hp ploughing engine 1541 and a pair of BB1 engines. He also looked after the John Allen engine No 67 for many years.

We were privileged on several occasions to visit his steam collection at his home in Fawley where the club was made very welcome. Widely recognised for rescuing the Flying Scotsman from the USA in 1972 his interests were wide and we were privileged to have him within the Steam Plough Club.

John Billard

6 March 2018

John Allen 12hp No 67, in the care of Bill McAlpine, is demonstrated at Fawley during a 1970s club visit.                          Photo John Billard


1936 - 2018

We are very sorry to report the death on 6th March at 81 of Robert Oliver after a long illness.  He was member No 171 and secretary 1974 to 1976, chairman from 1977 to 2006 and editor from 1988 to 2006. On his 25th anniversary in in the post of chairman in 1993 Robert was accorded the title of life chairman which now lapses.

Robert became chairman at a crucial time for the club which at the time found itself in the doldrums in the years after its inception in 1966.  With a new secretary joining him a while later they worked together to invigorate the membership which then rose rapidly. Successes under his leadership included a new Steam Plough Times under the editorship of Bill Padwick, the inauguration of events such as the Great Challenge and Hands On training and turning the annual general meeting into a major social event where on occasion it seemed that almost half the membership attended. Our web site was instituted.  A most fruitful relationship was built with the Museum of English Rural Life, at the University of Reading, which continues.  


Robert had an interest in the historical aspects of the club and spent many years collating engine records from primary sources such as the records at Reading; a work that he painstakingly assembled over 6-8 years. This became a very early application of computerised records for the club. More recently he encouraged further research as he worked on the records with Dick Eastwood to produce the very successful club publications on this subject.  

Regrettably much of his activity was dogged by ill health caused by congenital kidney disease which has affected many members of his family.  He had a successful kidney transplant in 1998 which improved his life greatly.  In 2004 with his wife Helen he left Croydon after many years and set up in Leominster where he became active in local affairs including chairing the Civic Society.  He did much for the things he cared about.

We send our condolences to his family particularly to Helen, his son Michael and his wife Jill, and sister Elizabeth. Without Robert’s influence the club would not be what it is today. We will miss him.

John Billard

14 March 2018


Renewal reminders went out in the Steam Plough Times in early December, this year members also have the option of renewing online using PayPal.   You don’t need to be have a paypal account to be able to use this method.  As Paypal make a charge for this service, there is an extra charge of £1.00 to cover the clubs costs, however you won’t have to pay for a stamp.

Please note

The access password for the Members area of the website has changed.

Please see the March issue of SPT for the new password.

Charles Roads


Founder member Charles Roads died on 2nd April after a long Illness.  With his father Harper, Charles was on the forefront of steam plough preservation and much would not exist today without them.

Charles attended the Club inaugural meeting in 1966 and he was member number 27.  

The funeral service was held on Wednesday 17th April at Cambridge City Crematorium


John Billard


Charles Roads    Photo John Billard

An update to the engine and implement list has been added to the members area of the web site.

25 May 2019

This is to announce our first SPC photographic competition.  

The entries will be judged at the committee meeting on 16 November. The winner will receive a free year’s membership.  The picture must have been taken by the member submitting an entry.

The subject has to be relevant to SPC activities but can have been taken at any time.  

Any format is acceptable in either hard or soft copy.  Please include a suitable caption with the date and place that the picture was taken.  A condition is that while the photographer retains the copyright the photograph may be used by the club for any reasonable purpose with of course the photographer credited.  

Entries may feature in a forthcoming SPC calendar or be published in the Steam Plough Times.  



Entries should be submitted by the end of October, electronic entries should be sent to Peter Longfoot, hard copies should be posted to Mark Jones. Contact details for Peter and Mark are on page 2 of the Steam Plough Times or on the website.
Happy shooting!
John Billard

book binding in need of repair newly conserved Fowler register

one of the volumes as it was shown to the committee in 2018

Paul Ransley (second left) admires the newly conserved Fowler register with (left to right) Mike Beeby, Mike Goodman and

Guy Baxter, Associate Director, Archive Services, MERL

A book plate


The Steam Plough Club has had recognition from the Museum of English Rural Life at Reading for its role in the preservation of important archives. 

Click here to see MERL website

Following a national grant  the museum is proceeding to restore its collection of Fowler records which cover a lengthy period of the production at the Steam Plough Works.  There are 37 volumes plus many photographic records. These records are an invaluable resource covering in detail engine production and much other information.  The photographs show one volume the binding of which has almost disintegrated and the same that has been restored – a wonderful transformation.

As noted the Steam Plough Club has supported this application with a donation. This has been followed by an individual member.

Should further members wish to make an individual donation to this important project please contact The Secretary.

John Billard

August 2019