In October 2017 the society received an email from Mike Haddon of northern England who was asking for information about the small road roller that lives inside the main gate next to the reception building. The roller was built by Wallis & Steevens in Basingstoke in southern England but little more was known about its history. It was donated to the society in 1978 by the Clarence Council and arrived at the museum in a stripped state. Most of the engine was missing along with the engine hood, seat and controls. The roller was given a cosmetic restoration at some stage to make it presentable and is quite popular with small children who enjoy ‘driving’ it. The builders plate is still attached to the roller and the makers number PEU/C 51570 was given to Mike to help him identify which model roller it is. Mike replied that the roller was built in 1951, that the ‘P’ in PEU indicated it had a petrol engine and that the PEU models were first built in 1945. The roller is thought to have been constructed late in the period they were built, as the PEUs were superceded soon after by mainly diesel powered models. The PEU rollers were fitted with Morris 12/24 car engines and weighed about two tons. He advised that two similar rollers have been preserved in England and he offered to source information on them which will help the museum to perhaps restore the roller in the future.
A.H McDonald Roller
Little was known of the history of the diesel roller until John Touzel of Korumburra, Victoria was contacted. The roller is a ‘FHE’ model, serial no. 550FHE and fitted with a ‘FEB’ engine no. 4890FEB and was built by A H McDonald at their Richmond, Victoria factory. The engines were rated at 5–6 horsepower at 500 rpm. This roller is classified as a 3 wheel footpath roller with a weight of 3 to 3¼ tons [Imperial weight] and was despatched from the factory on 10 December 1945 and sold to the Corporation of Hobart (Hobart City Council?). Earlier they had also purchased a similar FHE roller (548FHE) which was the first FHE roller built with a FEB engine, making the roller at the museum the third built with the FEB engine. The rollers with the FEB engine were built between 1945 and 1952. Previous FHE rollers were fitted with the FE engine. The museum roller is missing the overhead canopy and the water moistening equipment for the rear rolls. Most McDonald rollers had two numbers — one for the engine and one for the roller and it is not uncommon to find a roller with a later engine on it. The museums roller is also missing the frame builders plate which should be located on the gooseneck at the front, as at some stage this casting has been broken and repaired by welding and reinforcing with steel plates. The roller was donated to the museum by Quon’s Glenorchy Quarries in 1978.
AJS was the name used for cars and motorcycles made by company A. J. Stevens & Co. Ltd, Wolverhampton, England from 1909 to 1931. By that time the company held 117 motorcycle world records. After the firm was sold, the name continued to be used by Matchless, Associated Motorcycles and Norton-Villiers on four-stroke motorcycles until 1969, and since the name’s resale once again in 1974 on two-stroke scramblers and today on small-capacity roadsters and cruisers.