After demolishing his last ever chimney Fred completes the restoration of his traction engine and gets it ready for the road so that he can fulfil a lifelong ambition to go on a grand tour of Britain in search of all the things that went into building it. Getting it into a roadworthy condition was no mean feat, but with a boiler test certificate in his hand at last, Fred was finally ready to hit the road.
On this DVD: Building the engine; Getting steam up for the first time; Road tests around Bolton; The boiler inspection.
The big day has come for Fred and his mate Alf to set off on their epic journey. They hit the road and head for an open-cast mine between Wigan and St Helens to collect a load of coal for the first stage of their journey. When they’ve fuelled up it’s off to Astley Green Colliery Museum to see Lancashire’s only surviving pit headgear and engine house.
On this DVD: Setting off; First night on the road; Crock Hey Opencast mine; Astley Green Colliery Museum.
With 100 miles covered, Fred’s in the Lake District and he’s having some teething troubles with his engine. He visits the workshops of his old mate, Dick Ransome, to get it fixed, takes a trip on Lake Windermere aboard an Edwardian steam yacht, goes deep into the last iron ore mine in Western Europe and sees a hand rolling mill at Workington steel works.
On this DVD: Repairs in the Lakes; Florence Mines; Workington Steel Works; Chat with steel workers.
Up in Scotland Fred marvels at the ingenuity of the Falkirk wheel, stays at the Bo’ness and Kinneli Railway and visits one of the few traditional iron works left in the area before crossing the spectacular Forth Road Bridge – the first traction engine ever to do this under its own steam.
On this DVD: The journey to Scotland and the Falkirk Wheel; Ballantine’s Bo’ness Ironworks; Royal Scottish Museum; The Forth Bridge.
Fred and Alf visit Ryhope pumping station in Sunderland, before heading south to cross the Middlesborough Transporter Bridge. On the way from there to Bradford they nearly run out of coal and water, but get stocked up in time to continue their journey to Israel Newton’s boiler works.
On this DVD: Ryhope; Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge; Journey to Bradford; Israel Newton’s boiler works.
Fred has reached Yorkshire on his grant tour. He’s on his way to Sheffield and drives his traction engine across the imposing Scammonden Bridge over the M62. In Sheffield he goes in search of the geographical features that made it into “steel city”, visits one of the few remaining forges in the city and finds out how crucible steel was produced at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet.
On this DVD: Scammonden Bridge; The drive to Wincowbank Hill; Independent Forgings; Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet.
Before they leave Yorkshire Fred and Alf stop off at Andy Thornton’s Architectural Antiques, where Fred tries his hand at wood carving. At Worsborough near Sheffield he has a go at making hot forge rivets in the traditional way. He travels on to Derbyshire to visit the Midland Railway Centre and stay with an old friend, Ian Howard at Alton Engineering but on the way he spots an old pit winding engine and with two ex miners in tow they can’t help but investigate.
On this DVD: Andy Thornton’s Architectural Antiques; The Bolt and Rivet Manufacturing Company; Midland Railway Centre; Alton Engineering.
Fred has been joined by his sons, Jack and Roger, and they are staying with an old friend, Ian Howard at Alton Engineering. Leaving the engine at Ian’s workshop for some repairs, Fred visits David Ragsdale, one of the few pattern makers left in the country, who also owns six traction engines. Next Fred visits Tom Nuttall a man who runs a garden centre that is powered by steam and a clockmaker in Ashbourne.
On this DVD: Alton Engineering; David Ragdale, Pattern maker; Tom Nuttall’s Garden Centre; Charles Haycock, Clockmaker.
Fred meets up with a few old friends at the North Staffs & Cheshire Traction Engine Club. All the engines are in steam and we see them at work felling trees, sawing up wood and repairing the road. He meets up with another old friend, Len Crane and has a look at the restoration work he’s done at the Bratch Pumping Station near Wolverhampton, He visits the Severn Valley Railway to have a look round the workshops, then travels on to the black Country Living Museum
On this DVD: North Staffs & Cheshire Traction Engine Club; Len Crane, Bratch Pumping Station; Severn Valley Railway; Black Country Living Museum.
Fred looks at the way chains were made at the Black Country Living Museum before travelling all the way from Dudley to Anglesey to visit Parys Mountain, a vast copper mine that was once the largest in the whole world. He visits a copper spinner to learn about this traditional craft and goes to the Ffestiniog Railway where he has a go at driving one of their engines.
On this DVD : The Black Country Living Museum; Parys Mountain; Copper spinning; Ffestiniog Railway.
Fred and his team are in the mountains of Snowdonia on the final stage of their journey. They drive the engine over the Llanberis Pass to get to the Welsh Slate Museum where Fred has a look at the engineering workshops. On their way back home to Bolton they stop in to have a look at the Anderton Boat lift. Back in Lancashire he stops off at two engineering workshops which provided vital for his engine. Budenberg’s the company that made the pressure gauge and Smith Bullough, the place where he got the nuts and bolts.
On this DVD: Llanberis Pass; Welsh Slate Museum; Anderton Boat Lift; Budenberg’s & Smith Bullough.