Museum’s steam roller ‘Joan’ in need of community support

Steam crane
Steam crane

Amberley Museum has announced a new fundraising campaign: it is calling on the community to help support its steam collection.

Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre is a registered charity and non-profit organisation which works to preserve the industrial heritage in the south east, whilst conserving and displaying their exhibits for educational interest.

Amberley Museum's Joan the Steam Engine

Amberley Museum's Joan the Steam Engine

The fundraising team has asked the the community helps to keep Amberley Museum special.

They are currently fundraising for donations to support the steam collection at the museum.

Their historic steam crane and Marshall steam roller ‘Joan’ need essential boiler repairs to get them back in to steaming action.

Just £2,000 will enable them to fund the specialist works required and once again demonstrate the exciting power of the steam crane and roller to their visitors.

Steam roller

Steam roller

The Steam Crane displayed in the museum’s wood yard, was made by Smith of Rodley near Leeds in 1937.

Steam cranes were built in large numbers for use in docks, construction sites and factories up to 1950.

Today less than half a dozen remain in operational condition in the UK.

Originally used by a company in Essex, the steam crane was bought by Charlton Saw Mills, Chichester in 1963 where it remained in use until donated to the Museum in 1986.

Smith and Rodley Steam Crane

Smith and Rodley Steam Crane

Until the last couple of years museum volunteers have frequently demonstrated the steam crane to visitors, using it to move wood onto the rack saw bench next to the crane.

Now the crane’s boiler is in need of intensive repair work, and we need to raise funds to employ a specialist welder to carry out the work.

The aim is to work the steam crane and saw benches together and reinstate the area as a working exhibit.

This will greatly add to the educative and enjoyment value of the wood yard. The working steam crane is a dramatic and exciting sight for visitors to the museum to enjoy.

The Marshall Steam Roller, which is on long term loan from West Sussex County Council, was purchased new by Midhurst Rural District Council, and this roller operated in the Midhurst area all its working life.

At eight tons working weight, it is a medium sized roller suitable for general purpose work, and ideal for the job it was bought to do; a fact borne out by its service of over 50 years.

It became traditional for rollers to be named after the driver’s wife, and so it became known as Joan, wife of driver Alan Pronger.

The couple set up home in the roller’s living van following their marriage in 1955. The living van can be seen in the Pavior’s Museum of Roadmaking at Amberley Museum.

By the early 1980s it was the last steam roller to be operated by a local authority anywhere in the country.

In 1983 it was transferred to Amberley Museum where it has been operated and maintained by volunteers.

It has won a number of awards and attended local shows and annually the Lords Mayor Show in London as part of the Paviors Company display.

For a couple of years, the steam roller has been out of action, requiring extensive boiler work, including new tubes.

Funds are needed to complete these works and get Joan back into steam. A working roller is a visibly exciting event and they would love to be able to drive her around the Museum on a regular basis, helping show visitors how roads were maintained.

To support the fundraising project, contact the museum for more information, or visit the JustGiving page, available at

Amberley Museum has 36 acres to explore and more than 40 exhibit buildings to visit, focusing on industrial and transport history. Take a ride on the narrow gauge railway and historic bus.

Exhibits include the telecommunications hall, electricity hall, working printshop, lime kilns, steam engines and more.

The museum is home to traditional craftspeople such as the Woodturners and Blacksmith, with a café, gift shop, nature trails and picnic areas. The Museum is accessibility friendly and dogs are welcome on site.

This year the museum is celebrating its 40th season, and more than 50 events are being hosted in 2018 from children’s activity days to classic vehicle shows.

It will be open until October 28.

For more information on the museum’s events or education programme, see their website for full details at