Item BCA - 2019.1658 - Pandora the steam engine

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BCA - 2019.1658


Pandora the steam engine


  • 1952 (Creation)

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pdf of two photographs

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An email from Fenella Gray the daughter of John Quick.

"Yes its my dad. It is probably at Appleford ... he only got Pandora in 1951 and she was a mess found in a ditch in Weald somewhere. With his friends he brought it back to the Gasworks; here he got her going again. My grandfather Percy Sheppard used to be his co-driver, but he was always letting people have a ride on her. My mum used to get cross with him as he forgot about his family on these days out and gave everyone else a ride but not us children.
I have to get into the attic to find more photos. After he died I gave lots of history to the Traction Engine museum and they let me know that Pandora was still going and Bampton Castle was as well. We thought Bampton Castle had been sold for spares, so it was great to know she is still going. Dad started the racing up at the two places with a man called Arthur Napper who owned the engine Old Timer that lives at the Swan, Buckland Road.
It was our job to shine the brasses up before he went off to the shows. It was quite frightening when you had to clean the box which had Pandora’s name on it as we all would think about the story Opening Pandora’s box and letting everything out.
I think its first outing was at the Coronation Celebrations in Bampton in 1953.

Ken Quick, John's son wrote:-

"Ah yes, the beautiful Pandora, my Dad's pride and joy, she is still going strong down in Dorset. Many happy memories of the Appleford Rally, especially riding all the way home to Bampton sitting in the coal box. Plenty of stops for refreshments though but only lemonade and crisps for me! My Granddad, Percy Sheppard used to be steering with Dad on the gears and feeding the boiler. Happy Days!"

Regarding the photograph of the engine (no people) Jeffrey Shackell told us:-
"It was nice to hear about the memories of Pandora and I love the comment that it was found in a ditch near Weald, how things have changed! Indeed in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s traction engines could be found derelict in a variety of locations as they had absolutely no use by that time other than for the few still at work.
The photograph of John Quick on Pandora was taken at Appleford in 1952, he entered it into a race with 4 other traction engines. Fortunately the history of the very early preservation scene is fairly well recorded and the small Youtube clip shows Pandora at the race. At that event in June 1952 Jack Wharton from Minster Lovell presented his Burrell showman’s engine as a supporting engine, although it did not enter the race. The race was won by Arthur Napper from Appleford who was my fathers uncle, hence my fascination with traction engines! We have one of his engines here at Lew.
The present owner of Pandora lives in North Wales and the boiler of the engine is presently with a boiler maker in Wiltshire having major repairs. The engine is due to be assembled during 2019 and will make an appearance at a special anniversary event at Appleford being planned for 2020 which will be the 70th anniversary of Arthur’s first race.
I am in touch with the present owner and he will be interested to hear of any Pandora tales. I met Mrs Quick in 1999 when with Willie Tomlins we took one of my traction engines round to the Old Gas works to have tea and cakes with her. This was prior to the 2000 50th anniversary which was successfully held in Appleford.
For the record, Old Timer, which was Arthur’s race winning engine now lives in Thatcham and Willie Tomlins has his late father Burrell showman’s engine “Lord Nelson” at the old Swan."

You can see a short film clip of the steam engine racing at Appleford on YouTube at

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