Pudsey has a number of wonderful groups and charities within the town. Each month we want to shine the spotlight on one and let them tell you more about what they’re up to. This month, it’s the fantastic Friends of Pudsey Roller. The Friends of Pudsey Roller group is dedicated to the restoration and support of the famous steam roller that once resided in Pudsey Park. A lot of members of our community have fond memories of the roller so this month we decided to hand over the spotlight to the group to tell us what they’ve been up to and what you can do to help.
Friends of Pudsey Roller was initiated in April 2009 in Pudsey Civic Hall to raise funds for the restoration of the 1921-built Fowler steam roller (constructed in Hunslet) which was presented to Pudsey by Sir Walter Ward, the Mayor of Pudsey in 1959 and placed in Pudsey Park for the children of the town to play on. It was well kept by the Urban District Council until that was subsumed by Leeds City Council in 1974 and unfortunately it then deteriorated. It was removed from the park in 1990, after being declared unsafe, and various unsuccessful attempts were made by groups and individuals to obtain it for preservation.
However, local members of the Road Roller Association, a national organisation founded in 1974, persuaded it to get involved and the RRA subsequently negotiated a 25-year long loan agreement with Leeds City Council which was signed in 2007. Following that, it was possible for a start to be made towards rescuing the roller. By that time, for a large number of years, it had been sadly neglected and almost went for scrap. It had lain unprotected and uncared for out in the open in various yards and it was obvious that a considerable amount of money would be needed to restore the roller to working order.
The loan agreement commits the RRA to fund the roller being brought back to ‘life’ and eventually to be returned to Pudsey to take part in an event such as the Pudsey Carnival where it would be once again enjoyed by local people and others who may have played on it as children many years ago.
FoPR’s objective is to help the Road Roller Association to fulfil the ‘reincarnation’ of this steam roller that once was static in Pudsey and to breathe steam into it to once more in order to make it a mobile and once again become a well-loved item.
It should he pointed out that the roller in the park was not the Fowler steam roller which once belonged to Pudsey Urban District Council. That machine was taken out of council service in the early 1950s and subsequently scrapped; having been replaced by a more up-to-date diesel roller.
Today, it will no longer be possible to position the steam roller in the park for children to play on. The current Health & Safety requirements will not allow that.
Friends of Pudsey Roller is solely dedicated to fund-raising for the preservation, restoration and future upkeep of the Fowler steam roller that once stood in Pudsey Park from 1959 to 1990 and currently to bring it into working condition, so that it can be once again be enjoyed by the people and children of Pudsey.
A deep interest in the engineering activities of Leeds – which at one time was the steam capital of Britain when it comes to the construction of railway, road and other types of steam engines. Over time there were more than 30 firms which built all manner of steam engines in the city dating back to at least 1804. These were exported all over the globe. The restoration of the Pudsey Roller is a small but very important part of that – especially for people who once lived in Pudsey – and FoPR has received donations from very many of these people in various locations around the world in recognition of this.
As part of its fund raising activities, FoPR has organised twice-yearly Pie and Pea Suppers at the Farsley Liberal Club, where one of our members is involved. The theme of these very successful suppers has been ‘Transport and Steam’ and they have included such-wide ranging local topics as Leeds trams; Smith’s steam cranes; Ledgard’s buses; Yorkshire airships and Bradford trolleybuses. These suppers have been a very useful fund-raising activity which, sadly, at the moment, are not possible as a result of the pandemic.
In addition to the above, the FoPR fund raising and display stand has frequently attended local shows such as the Pudsey Carnival, Transport Fairs at Pudsey Civic Hall and the Pudsey Allotments and Cottage Gardeners’ Association flower shows.
It is absolutely possible for anyone in the community to join Friends of Pudsey Roller via its website; payment by PayPal – or by sending a cheque or postal order for only £6.00 annually to the FoPR Treasurer, Cambridge House, Calverley Lane, Bramley, Leeds, LS13 3LR.
Assistance on the organisation’s stand at events is always welcome. Someone to manage, on behalf of FoPR via eBay, the sale of fund-raising items which have been donated to the cause would also be very much appreciated.