- See also: Bristol (trucks) - for the Bus and Truck manufacturer
Bristol crawler tractors were made from the 1930 until taken over by Track Marshall in the 1970s. The company has had several owners during this time and the factory moved several times as a result.
The first models were light weight machines on rubber jointed tracks with an Air cooled Flat twin engine designed and built by Douglas in 1932. The Douglas company was hoping sales of the tractor would boost the company, but this was not successful and they went bust soon after. The company was broken up and Bristol Tractors Ltd formed by a former director. The firm moved to Sunbeam Road in London. The engine was changed to a Anzani engine in the form of a V-twin of 1350 cc. The Anzani engine proved problematic with excessive wear problems. This was then replaced by the engine from a Jowett Bradford van. This unit was a 2-cylinder horizontally opposed 780 cc petrol engine, but of similar power. They also offered a twin cylinder 10 hp Victor Cub oil engine version designed for export markets. The Tracks used were designed by Roadles Tractors Ltd. and were latter used on the Ransomes MG tractor
William Jowett took control in 1934, after Bristol Tractors was unable to pay for a batch of engines. Following the takeover production moved to Blake Hill Works near Idle in Bradford. The tractor was relaunched as the 'Improved' Bristol with 3 engine options. From 1938 to 42 a diesel engined version fitted with a Coventry-Victor engine was offered as the model 'D'. Two petrol versions were also offered as the T with a 1003 cc twin cylinder or a 1166 cc 4-cylinder. This was supplemented by a Golf course and Parks version.
The AF28 and AF 35 were introduced in 1942 fitted with an Austin 10/4 engine of 1237 cc. They were produced till 1947.
The factory moved again to Earby, 30 miles from Bradford in 1945, when a converted mill became available from the Ministry of Supply following the end of wartime production. The new MD Clarence Jowett also set up two other firms on the site to supply Bristol and other firms with parts. Kelbrook Metal Products (KMP) to supply tinwork and petrol tanks, and Forecast foundries to supply the castings used. By 1947 production had risen to 30 tractors a week, with implements being produced as well, by a workforce of 120.
Work began after the AF28 & AF 35 went into production on a replacement for the tractor as the design was still mainly based on the original one from 1932. By 1948 the new 'Bristol 20' was ready. The new design incorporated the Rubber jointed track system but with a longer track and frame with an extra support roller and a more conventional rear drive sprocket. Steering was now by the more common twin lever and brake design used by other manufacturers. Engine power was now 22 hp from either petrol or TVO Austin 2.2 litre OHV engine. The machine was designed with a rear linkage and a range of Implements to suit for both agricultural use or civil engineering applications.
The new Bristol 20 sold well in export markets with 245 being sold in New Zealand in one year. The tractor also found applications in unusual jobs such as dragging electricity poles up inaccessible Yorkshire Dales for the Yorkshire Electricity Boards programme to bring power to remote communities in the 1950s.
The Bristol 22 was introduced in 1952 with a more powerful Austin petrol / Kerosene (TVO) engine or a Perkins P3 diesels as an option.
The Bristol 25 was introduced in 1955 and had all steel tracks with 10" pads as standard. The Bristol 25 was offered in an Orchard/ vineyard version and the "Duplex" Civil engineering contractors version with a load over the top bucket
The D arrived in 1959 and was updated to the PD version with a Perkins P3.144 diesel engine in 1960.
In 1961 Bristol passed to H.A. Saunders Ltd. who had been Bristol Tractors sole UK agent. They moved the firms Headquarters to Worcester. Saunders retooled the firm and designed a new model the "Taurus" introduced in 1964. The Taurus was offered as a tractor or as the "Terrier" a Crawler loader with a 4 in 1 bucket optional excavator (backhoe) available. The machine had a more powerful Perkins P3.152 than the PD, with a 3/2 + Hi/Lo gearbox. By 1970 crawlers sales were falling rapidly as their popularity waned and the JCB wheeled machines proved more popular with contractors due to ease of transport. The Taurus was sold to the Marshall Fowler group and became the Track Marshall 1100.
The Bristol "Sough Bridge Works" factory at Earby closed in 1971.
- Bristol, Avon and Somerset (as was)
- London, England
- Bradford then Earby, in Yorkshire, (Jowett)
- Worcester, Worcestershire (Bristol Saunders) HQ operation.
- Gainsborough, Lincolnshire (Marshall)
- Bristol 10 - 1942-47
- Bristol 10 original Douglas engined - 1932-33
- Bristol 20 - 1947-53
- Bristol 22 - 1952-55
- Bristol 25 - 1955-59 with orchard/vineyard and Duplex versions
- Bristol D - 1959-60
- Bristol PD - 1960-63 Tractor or Duplex versions.
- Bristol PD33 - 33" gauge
- Bristol PD44 - 44" gauge
- Bristol PD52 - 52" gauge
- Bristol Europa 1960 A tracked loader that could load over the top, and dump behind itself.(based on the PD
- Bristol Taurus 1964-67 Bulldozer and Loader versions (became the Track Marshall 1100)
There is an owners register for Bristol tractors
Poor examples can be picked up for a couple of hundred pounds but well restored versions can go for £2000 to £3000.
A few examples are in preservation, with the smaller models appearing at tractor shows in the UK. Restored examples are quite rare, but a number of examples are with collectors awaiting restoration.
- If you have a machine please add it to the list with a photo if possible. (you can add a page for your own machine with more details if you like, linked by serial number or registration number).
- Bristol 20 - Exhibited at GDSF
- Bristol 25 - Exhibited at Haddenham Steam Rally 2014
- Bristol AF 28 - Exhibited at the Belvoir Castle Steam Festival
- Bristol AF 28 - Exhibited at National Tractor Show - Peterborough
- Bristol Europa - In S.E. Davis & Son yard.
- Bristol Taurus - Loader fitted with cab working at the VET in Cumbria
- Bristol Taurus - Loader restored with Backactor exhibited at Pickering Steam Rally 2009
- Bristol Taurus - Bulldozer with tracked tipping trailer at Andrew Beaulahs Open Day
- Bristol Taurus Mk 2 - tractor at Shrewsbury Steam Rally working area.
- List of Construction Plant Manufacturers
- List of Tractor Manufacturers
- List of Engine Manufacturers
- Track Marshall
- Shows and Meets
- Clubs Listing
- Bristol Owners Group
References and sources
- Tractor Magazine, Price index
- Classic Tractors of the World by Nick Baldwin
- Tractor World Show Malvern and Peterborough.
- Bristol Tractors 1932-1970 by Victor Laycock.
- Tractor Magazine, price index, May 2008