- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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|
|Power hp||No built||notes|
- 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.
- 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 -
|Engine No.||Name||Build Date||Type||Weight||Power nhp||Reg No.||Owner||Image||Other info|
|-||1872||Portable||-||?||-||Hampshire CC collection||
||In Storage in Hampshire council collection|
|-||1872||Stationary Boiler||-||-||-||Hampshire CC collection||
|-||1898||TE||?||?||NO 1060||Hampshire CC collection||
|-||1898||Portable||-||?||-||Milestones Museum||At the Milestones Museum in Basingstoke|
|-||1900||Stationary engine||n/a||? nhp||n/a||Hampshire CC collection||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||Shown at Southport, Scorton, & Kemble in 2009|
|Sunny Jim||1904||Tractor A1||3 ton||3 nhp||DV 9883||Owner ?||
|-||1905||TE||?||7 nhp||HO 5600||Owner ?||
|Willow the Wisp||1910||Tractor B2||?||5 nhp||AA 2356||R. Willcox, Gloucestershire||At Shugborough Hall Rally in 2008 & Kemble 2009|
|Twilight||1912||Tractor Convertible B2||5 ton||5 nhp||IB 1597||Owner ?||
|-||1914||Tractor||? ton||4 nhp||AA 5296||Hampshire CC collection||In Milestones Museum|
|Emily||1914||Tractor B2||?||5 hp||-||Owner ?||
|-||1915||Tractor (boiler only)||?||?||ex AA 5506||Hampshire CC collection||As a Sectioned Boiler in Milestones Museum|
|Tasker no. 1666||One of Kitcheners Boy's||1915||Tractor B2||?||5 nhp||AA 5639||David Last, ?||At Woodcote Rally 2009|
|-||1915||TE||?||?||AP 9027||Hampshire CC collection||
|-||1916||Tractor||weight ?||power ?||SR 1516||Owner ?||
|-||1916||TE class C||?||6 nhp||PU 4724||Simon Bish, East Sussex||to add||At Tinkers Park Rally 2010|
|-||1917||Roller||?||?||BP 6289||Hampshire CC collection||
|Blossom||1917||Tractor||?||?||SR 1294||Hampshire CC collection||In storage|
|Jolly||1918||Tractor B2||?||5 nhp||SR 1252||W. Tomlins, Oxfordshire||150px]]||at Kemble 2009|
|-||1917||TE||?||?||AP 9281||Hampshire CC collection||
|-||1920||Tractor||?||?||HO 2822||Hampshire CC collection||
|Little Jim||1920||Showmans type B2||?||5 nhp||HO 29 30||Owner ?||
|Bobby/ Sooty||1922||Convertible tractor||? ton||4 nhp||SA 5861||owner ?||
||photo on Steam-up|
|1923||Convertible B2||5 ton||5 nhp||KL 9885||M. Lewendon, Wiltshire||To add||At Kemble 2009|
|-||1923||Roller (Convertible)||?||?||BD 7994||Milestones Museum||In Milestones Museum Collection|
|-||1924||Wagon (Little Giant)||5 ton||5 nhp||YB 183||Milestones Museum||In Milestones Museum collection|
|-||1928||TE class B2||6 Tons||4||932 GRO||owner ?||
||Featured on Steam Scene|
|-||1928||RR||10 ton||6 nhp||OT 8201||Hampshire CC collection||In Milestones Museum|
|Tasker no. ?||name||date built||type||weight||power||Reg no.||Owner ?||
|Tasker no. ?||Name||date built||TE||weight ?||power ?||Reg no. ?||Hampshire CC collection|| 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||
|Machine types Key:||References|
|SW = Steam Wagon, PE = Ploughing Engine, RR = Road Roller, SM = Showmans, TE = Traction Engine|