For the later trailer manufacturers see: Taskers Trailers

Taskers of Andover were a manufacturer of Steam Tractors agricultural machinery and ironmongery, based in Andover, Hampshire, England. The firm was established in 1809 By Robert Tasker a Blacksmith, at Abbots Ann nr Andover, when he took over The Forge were he worked. The company was known by several names over the years as it passed down the family, including Tasker & Fowle, W. Taskers & Sons Ltd. The company collapsed in the 1920s depression and was restructured as Taskers 1932 Ltd.

Taskers were a leading manufacturer of a wide range of agricultural implements and machinery, steam and stationary engines and road vehicles for a period of a 170 years.


Robert Tasker and his brother Wiliam, were born in Stanton-St-Bernard in Wiltshire, were their father operated a blacksmith's shop with a forge. The Eldest son Robert left Wiltshire in February 1806

In the early years of the 19th century, Robert Tasker and his brother, William, started a business that was to become the Waterloo Ironworks. Robert Tasker moved to Abbotts Ann and became assistant to local blacksmith Thomas Maslen at his forge. By 1809, he had taken over the business. Robert was noted as being a strong believer in the Christian faith. And attending the nonconformist Andover Congregational Church. His strong beielifs lead him to open his cottage for Sunday evening prayer meetings. But this caused conflict with the local business owners and Landowners in the area, who were members of the established church, and saw any kind of dissent as a threat to their authority. Little work came his way locally. Robert had to finding customers from places further away like Newbury and Southampton to stay in business.

As an ambitious man he saw the growing industrial as an opportunity, but realised an ordinary blacksmith's shop could not supply what the customers were requiring in the way of cast Iron parts instead of hand forge iron. So he expanded the forge to became the Abbotts Ann Ironworks by adding a foundry. But the inaccessible of the village and the small site was to led Robert Tasker to look for a new factory site to expand. Robert tasker saw the opportunity offered by the new cast ploughshares with there longer life. The addition of the foundry allowed production this new product. with Hampshire being a relatively rural agricultural industry based area there was local demand.

The arrival of the Andover Canal also provide operability for expansion easing transport probles to obtain supplies and ship goods out. A new site was obtained near by for a new Iron works.

Waterloo ironworksEdit

In the Anna Valley, a short distance from the existing forge was Clatford Marsh, and nearby a chalk pit. A couple of miles from the site the road to Andover crossed the Andover to Redbridge Canal. The site offered several advantages. It was cheap land and could be reclaimed easily using chalk waste from the local pit. The canal provided links to Southampton to bring in raw materials like coke and iron to supply a foundry. A water supply was also available from the nearby Pillhill Brook to power a waterwheel

Around this time Robert was joined by his brother William. The exact date of the new works is unknown but is believed to be Just after the battle of Waterloo that it takes its name from in 1815. The new works produced ploughshares, complete ploughs, iron tyres, gates, railings, garden rollers, cooking stoves & seed drills, according to early billheads. It is also known to have produced window frames and door knockers, which were used in houses built by Tasker for their workforce. Examples of feed troughs, signposts exist with the Tasker foundry name on.

In the mid-1830s, the brothers built themselves houses in Anna Valley, close to the new works which was by then expanding. Robert had a house known as Clatford Lodge and William one known as Brookside.

Tasker & FowleEdit

In 1836, Robert Tasker decided to end his active role in managing the business, even though he was only just over fifty. It has been suggested that he wanted to spend more time on religious and charitable work, but the reason was not recorded.

William tasker entered a partnership with a relative of Robert Taskers wife Martha called Geoege Fowle, as Robert Tasker had no children to take over his share. This lasted until 1857 when Williams first two children were old enougth to take over the firm.

There are still a few small cast-iron bridges in use, constructed by Tasker & Fowle. One was made in 1843 to take the road over the River Anton in Upper Clatford. Another, which crosses the current Micheldever Road in Andover, is a footbridge dated 1851 (right). It carries a footpath called the Ladies' Walk, and became necessary after a road was cut across the line of the path in the direction of Micheldever station.


Poverty among the farm labours in the early 1800s lead to riots in 1830. The Labourers saw the farm machinery as robbing them of work - most hated of all being the new threshing-machines. This culminated on 20 November 1830 when a mob of around 300 men whent into the Waterloo Ironworks. They smashed windows, knocked down walls and part of the roof, attacked the foundry crane and waterwheel and destroyed some half-made ploughs. The attack was part of a wave of agricultural riots which began in Kent known as the 'Swing' riots after 'Captain Swing' - an invented name put to letters demanding better pay and conditions for farmworkers.[1]

30 men were arrested by Special Constables and 14 were later charged. Four of those charged with 'riot and tumultuous assembly' at Taskers were acquitted. The other ten were sentenced to death. For nine of them this was immediately commuted to transportation for life to Australia. The authorities wanted one, John Gillmore to die, but he too was eventually transported.

W. Tasker & Sons LtdEdit

For nearly 30 years after Robert Taskers retirement, the only machines made at the Waterloo Ironworks were ones powered by men, horses or the Steam engines of other manufacturers.

This change in business may have come about as William's sons took over on the retirement of George Fowle, who had helped run the company for 20 years in partnership with William Tasker following Robert's early retirement. The firm then became W. Tasker and Sons Ltd in 1858. It was again a Robert and a William Tasker who had charge of the business as William Tasker snr had in typically Victorian style named his first two sons after himself and his brother. the third son was called Henry. Robert jnr. turned to farming instead and was just a financial partner in the firm. William jnr. proved to be the most inventive member of the whole family. Between 1858 and 1873 he lodged at least nine patents; four for improvements to Threshing machines, three for hay elevators and two for ploughs. But none of William jnr's patents was for a steam engine.

By the end of the 1850s Taskers were supplying portable and stationary steam engines made by Clayton, Shuttleworth & Co of Lincoln.

The growth of steam power had reached rural Hampshire as by the 1850s railways were being built everywhere. A line opened in 1854 from London to Andover, and in 1859 the Andover-Redbridge Canal was closed. After a few years a railway line was built along the route of the old canal. The former Taskers wharf at Upper Clatford was then converted, into the company's own private railway siding.

William Tasker jnr. younger brother Henry Tasker, seventeen years his junior was apprenticed to steam engineers Clayton, Shuttleworth & Co in 1864 and afterwards bought his knowledge of steam back to the family firm.

In 1865 the first steam Portable Engines were built at the Waterloo Ironworks. These portable engines are used to drive other machinery. They are portable in that they are mounted on transport wheels, but are pulled about by horses. The first engines were built from many parts supplied by other manufacturers. Tasker & Sons then employed a man from Clayton, Shuttleworth & Co, whose engines they had been selling for several years and a man came from Blackstones, agricultural engineers of Lincolnshire, to help design and assemble the engines. The First portable was sold in 1965 to John smith of Ahstead.[2]

The early engines were not built to standard designs. New plans were drawn up for each and some "standard" bought in parts modified, with the result that every finished engine was unique. However intuitive and craftsman like these methods were, this was not efficient.

In May 1869 the first Traction engine was built, works no. 54 later named Hero, which was sold to ? [3]

Henry Taskers training led to technical advances, but no dramatic rise in the number of engines made - perhaps due to a lack of capital. In 1883 William jnr died, leaving Henry to run the business alone, and now with only a one-third control of the company and its finances. When he had to pay £6,620 to buy-out his brothers' heirs a few years later, the company was deprived of still more capital and began a decline that would not end until the 1930s.

In 1891 a class of was at last introduced as the 8 horsepower "Economic". This design featured a boiler made entirely of steel, whereas all previous Tasker & Sons engines had boilers made of wrought-iron. The the relatively new material of steel only became available in the 1860s. As steel could be produced in larger batches than wrought iron it was cheaper

Then came the First World War, followed by a slump in which the only steam engines called for were road rollers. The very last steam engine built by Taskers was a road roller completed under the shadow of a second company liquidation in 1926.

The company's last steam vehicle, was a C Class road roller, in 1927.

Taskers (1932) Ltd / Taskers of Andover Ltd Edit

The new company, Taskers of Andover Ltd, made no effort to revive steam. At some time in the 1930s a last relic of it, a note book with drawings used for making spares, came somehow to be burned in a heating stove, and with that the age of steam at Taskers ended.

In the 1950s the then Chairman of the company Arthur Fuller JP started buying machines to form a Ttaskers Museum of the companies history. The collection was later sold off by auctioneers Christes after a company reorganisation. A Trust was set up to acquire exhibits and the Milestones Museum was created as a result in Basingstoke with the County Council. The museum also house Thornycroft related exhibits and old street scenes.

Steam wagonsEdit

The Firm started building steam wagons with the introduction of No. 1418 in 1909, based on "Little Giant" components. The engine being sold in 1910 to EP Siggers & Co. of Tunbridge Wells in Kent. It later went to J.I Thornycroft of Southampton. The first 13 built had Firehole doors on the side of the Firebox. This was latter dropped in favour of the usual layout. Another innovation was the use of a compact balancing fly weights in side the horn plates instead of a normal flywheel. This idea was also dropped after a few examples were built.

Taskers Trailers / Craven TaskerEdit

Main article: Taskers Trailers

The Company was bought up in the 1970s and became part of the Craven Group. The factory at Andover was closed down as production moved to other facilities following tha take over of Craven taskers trailers operations by Irish company Montracon in the late 1980s.

A descendant of the firm is Montracon Ltd part of the Irish Ballyvesey Holdings Ltd group.

The firm of Andover Trailers was started by former employees of Taskers after the company was shutdown & production moved elseware.

Model RangeEdit

Engine class Engine no. Approximate date of introduction Weight Notes
A1 "Little Giants" 1284 1/2/1902 3ton 2 cwt listed at £400 in 1904
B1 "Little Giants" 1213 9/3/1904 3 ton 5 cwt listed as £440 in 1904
A2 "Little Giants" 1320 7/5/1904 4 ton 8 cwt listed at £450 in 1904
A1 "Colonial" 1336 4/7/1904 Colonials had longer boilers working at higher pressure (170 psi)
B2 1346 6/2/1905 4 to 17 cwt
B1 "Colonial" 1354 2/11/1905
B2 "Colonial" 1403 -/1/1909
Approximate Production Figures by power rating
Power hp No built notes
5 hp 5
6 hp 12
7 hp 28
8 hp 46
10 hp 18
12 hp 24
  • No. 1318 of 1906 a class A1 was bought in 1954 for the Tasker Museum set up by Arthur Fuller JP, chairman of the company
  • No. 1365 of 1907 a Class A2 reg AA2200 was in 1927 converted to a Roller by Burrells and renumbered as Burrell No. 4065 reg PG 9349.[4]
  • No. 1741 of 1917 was bought back by taskers in 1955 and sold in 1969 and later entered preservation as John Wallace.
  • No. 1913 of 1924 was a special 2 twin roller built from a Wagon parts, but the order was cancelled and it was not sold till 1930, when it went to HE Prior of London.

UK Preserved machinesEdit

  • 1910 Tasker Tractor (AA2356) Little Giant -

Preserved machines built by Taskers of Andover (TER lists 37 in the UK)
view  talk  edit

Engine No. Name Build Date Type Weight Power nhp Reg No. Owner Image Other info
Tasker no. 111 - 1872 Portable -  ? - Hampshire CC collection Image needed LHB

In Storage in Hampshire council collection
Tasker no. 203 - 1872 Stationary Boiler - - - Hampshire CC collection Image needed LHB

In storage
Tasker no. 352 Excelsior 1898 TE  ?  ? NO 1060 Hampshire CC collection Image needed LHB

In storage
Tasker no. 1228 - 1898 Portable -  ? - Milestones Museum Taskers no. 1228 (?) PE in Milestones Museum 09 - IMG 4108 At the Milestones Museum in Basingstoke
Tasker no. 1235 Name date built PE weight ? power ? -  ? Image needed LHB

Seen at ?
Tasker no. 1248 - 1900 Stationary engine n/a  ? nhp n/a Hampshire CC collection Taskers no. 1248 Stationary engine in Milestones museum 09 - IMG 4320 In Milestones Museum fixed display (proposal to have engine working)
Tasker no. 1296 The Horse's Friend 1902 Tractor A1 3 Tons 3 nhp BY 160 J. Moore, Southport Lancashire Tasker Little Giant sn 1296 The Horses Friend reg BY 160 at Southport 09 - IMG 7564 Shown at Southport, Scorton, & Kemble in 2009
Tasker no. 1309 Sunny Jim 1904 Tractor A1 3 ton 3 nhp DV 9883 Owner ?,Exeter Image needed LHB

In Museum of Country Life, Sandy Bay
Tasker no. 1318 - 1909 TE 3 ton 3 nhp AA 2143  ? Image needed LHB

seen at
Tasker no. 1352 - 1905 TE  ? 7 nhp HO 5600 Owner ? Image needed LHB

Misc info
Tasker no. 1396 George 1908 TE (ex roller)  ? ton 4 nhp AA 2254 Amberley Museum Image needed LHB

seen at
Tasker no. 1409 Little Giant 1909 CRR 6 ton 4 nhp AA 2299 Claude Jesset Trust, Hadlow Down, Sussex Tasker no. 1409 RR - Little Giant AA2299 at Tinkers Park 2014 - IMG 1329 Unique 5-section front roll. Tinkers Park Rally
Tasker no. 1424 Willow the Wisp/ Hero 1910 Tractor B2  ? 5 nhp AA 2356 R. Willcox, Gloucestershire Taskers little giant 1424 reg AA 2356 at Shugborough Hall 08 - P6220129 At Shugborough Hall Rally in 2008 & Kemble 2009
Tasker no. 1513 Twilight 1912 Tractor Convertible B2 5 ton 5 nhp IB 1597 Owner ? Image needed LHB

TER indicates it as at Milestones Museum
Tasker no. 1592 Pride of Anna Valley 1914 Tractor weight ? 4 nhp AA 5253  ? Image needed LHB

seen at
Tasker no. 1599 - 1914 Tractor  ? ton 4 nhp AA 5296 Hampshire CC collection Tasker no. 1599 Tractor AA 5296 in Milestones Museum 09 - IMG 3942 In Milestones Museum
Tasker no. 1611 Name 1914 Tractor weight ? 4 nhp AA 5309  ?, Ruthin Image needed LHB

seen at ?
Tasker no. 1625 Emily 1914 Tractor B2  ? 5 hp J 3098 Owner ?, Jersey Image needed LHB

was (AA 5385) then BP 5833
Tasker no. 1643 - 1915 Tractor (boiler only)  ?  ? ex AA 5506 Hampshire CC collection SEctioned Traction engine boiler (ex Taskers no. 1643) in Milestones museum 09 - IMG 3925 Displayed as a Sectioned Boiler in Milestones Museum
Tasker no. 1666 One of Kitcheners Boy's 1915 Tractor B2  ? 5 nhp AA 5639 David Last, Oxfordshire Tasker no. 1666 TE One of Kitcheners Boys reg AA 5639 at Woodcote 09 - IMG 8225 At Woodcote Rally 2009
Tasker no. 1675 - 1915 TE  ? 5 nhp AP 9027 Hampshire CC collection Image needed LHB

In storage
Tasker no. 1697 Wee Tam 1916 Tractor - Ex RR weight ? 5 nhp SR 1516 Owner ?, Amersham Image needed LHB

Reconstructed in 1976
Tasker no. 1709 - 1916 TE class C 10 ton 6 nhp PU 4724 Simon Bish, East Sussex to add At Tinkers Park Rally 2010
Tasker no. 1715 - 1917 Roller  ? 8 nhp BP 6289 Hampshire CC collection Image needed LHB

In storage
Tasker no. 1718 Lily of the Valley 1916 TE weight ? 5 nhp PU 5236  ?, Craven Arms Image needed LHB

Seen at
Tasker no. 1726 Blossom 1917 Tractor  ? 4 nhp SR 1294 Hampshire CC collection Taskers no. 1726 TE - Blossom - SR 1294 in Milstones Museum 09 - IMG 3935 In Milestones Museum
Tasker no. 1741 - 1917 TE weight ? 4 nhp HO 2040  ?, Guildford Image needed LHB

Seen at
Tasker no. 1765 Jolly 1918 Tractor B2  ? 5 nhp SR 1252 W. Tomlins, Oxfordshire 150px]] at Kemble 2009
Tasker no. 1776 - 1917 TE 10 to 6 nhp AP 9281 Hampshire CC collection Image needed LHB

In storage
Tasker no. 1818 - 1920 Tractor  ? 4 nhp HO 2822 Hampshire CC collection Image needed LHB

Sectioned for display - In storage
Tasker no. 1822 Little Jim II 1920 Showmans type B2 Tractor  ? 5 nhp HO 29 30 Owner ?,High Wycombe Image needed LHB

Misc info
Tasker no. 1833 The Fox 1921 Crane Tractor (ex RR) 8 ton 4 nhp MD 5864 owner ?, Hampshire Image needed LHB

Seen at
Tasker no. 1895 Bobby/ Sooty 1922 Convertible tractor  ? ton 4 nhp SA 5861 owner ?, Chester Image needed LHB

photo on Steam-up
Tasker no. 1902 Alice
Formerly St.Aman[5]
1923 Convertible B2 5 ton 5 nhp KL 9885 M. Lewendon, Wiltshire To add At Kemble 2009
Tasker no. 1906 - 1923 Roller (Convertible) 8 ton 4 nhp BD 7994 Milestones Museum Tasker no. 1906 Convertible Roller - BD 7994 in Milestons Museum 09 - IMG 3916 In Milestones Museum Collection
Tasker no. 1911 - 1924 Convertible tractor 5 ton 4 nhp SA 6914  ?, Inverurie Image needed LHB

Seen at
Tasker no. 1915 - 1924 Wagon (Little Giant) 5 ton 5 nhp YB 183 Milestones Museum Taskers no. 1915 - SW - YB 183 in Milestones Museum 09 - IMG 4106 In Milestones Museum collection
Tasker no. 1926 - 1926 RR weight ? 4 nhp TT 8344  ?, Tiverton ? Image needed LHB

Seen at
Tasker no. 1928 - 1928 TE class B2 6 Tons 4 932 GRO(ex TK 4540) owner ? Image needed LHB

Featured on Steam Scenes at Bedford Steam
Tasker no. 1933 - 1928 RR 10 ton 6 nhp OT 8201 Hampshire CC collection Taskers no. 1933 RR - OT 8201 in Milstones Museum 09 - IMG 4053 In Milestones Museum
Tasker no. ? name date built type weight power Reg no. Owner ? Image needed LHB

Misc info
Tasker no. ? Name date built TE weight ? power ? Reg no. ? Hampshire CC collection Tasker no. ? TE in Milestones Museum 09 - IMG 4100 Engine no.(works no.) or Reg no. unknown ?
Located in Milestones Museum
Make and no Name date built type weight power Reg no. Owner Photo Misc info
Make and no Name date built type weight power Reg no. Owner Image needed LHB

Misc info
Machine types Key: References
SW = Steam Wagon, PE= Portable Engine, Plg = Ploughing Engine, RR = Road Roller, SM = Showman's, ST = Steam tractor, TE = Traction Engine
  1. Hobsbawm, Eric and George Rudé (1973) Captain Swing: A Social History of the Great English Agricultural Uprising of 1830. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  2. Old Glory Magazine no. 226, p 52
  3. Old Glory Magazine No. 227, page ?
  4. Old Glory Magazine no. 226 p54
  5. (steam-up web site)

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

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