At first Henry Bentley’s brewery used horse drawn wagons to deliver beer locally and further afield. As they expanded they sent their barrels away by train and also bought traction engines to deliver them by road. It’s not known when they invested in their first road engine but in 1882, the newly formed limited company bought a new road loco from Aveling & Porter of Rochester in Kent. It was given the name “Timothy.”
Later the renamed Bentley’s Yorkshire Breweries were very early users of steam wagons as a means of servicing their public houses and for transport in general. This new form of power later became the norm for breweries all over the country and the industry as a whole were very good steam wagon customers for a very long time.
The first recorded steam lorry to appear at Woodlesford was Thornycroft No. 19 manufactured in February 1900, and then similar No. 17 a month later. These were supplied by the Basingstoke, Hampshire, firm and were followed in February 1904 by locally made Yorkshire Patent Steam Wagon Co. No. 56 which was a 4 ton wagon and for the first time such vehicles came under the requirements of the then newly constituted Motor Taxation laws. This Yorkshire was therefore registered C 465 (C = Yorkshire, West Riding).
The next was a Mann Patent Steam Cart & Wagon Co product, the works number of which is not known but it was registered C 520.
The Yorkshire was Fleet No 1 and the Mann’s became Fleet No 2. Both steam wagon firms had addresses on Pepper Road, Hunslet, Leeds. A further Yorkshire followed, No 80 of 1905, a 2-tonner and this was Fleet No 3 (Reg No C 960).
Another Mann’s came along in 1909, the details of which are not known and then a further Mann wagon which was Fleet No 8 (U 3146).
After that two more Mann wagons followed – being U1683 and another, no details of which are known.
A further Mann was purchased in 1915, second hand from the East & West Yorkshire Union Railway whose headquarters were just a few miles away at Rothwell – themselves very early users of steam wagons – and this may have been C 250.
In 1926, two Sentinel Super wagons were bought by BYB from the Shrewsbury manufacturer – these being consecutively numbered 6377 and 6378 (WU 4271 and WU 4272) respectively. This pair were last licenced in the early 1930s and presumably scrapped when stringent taxation laws were introduced on vehicles such as these that were on solid rubber tyres.
The steam wagon shed and yard was across Aberford Road from the brewery, approximately opposite the brewery’s entrance from this road.
The above information was compiled by Derek Rayner from his own research and the records of the Road Locomotive Society.
PLUCKY ACTION OF A LEEDS MOTOR-DRIVER. A RUNAWAY BREWERY WAGGON.
Yorkshire Evening Post. Saturday 15 October 1915.
An alarming street accident occurred Dewsbury this morning. Joseph Sunderland, of Hunslet, and employed by Messrs. Bentley and Co., Woodlesford Brewery, was steering the motor on which were twenty one barrels of beer, down Leeds Road, when the brake failed to act.
The waggon was soon going at a great speed, but Sunderland, who was accompanied by Harry Thompson, of Woodlesford, kept his seat until the runaway vehicle was brought to standstill coming into collision with the Town Hall Buildings, in Wakefield Road.
The waggon tilted over, and both Sunderland and Thompson had narrow escapes of being seriously injured, falling underneath the waggon, which was badly smashed. Sunderland rendered assistance to a coal cart teamer named Smithson, of Staincliffe, Dewsbury Moor, who was knocked down against the kerbstone and badly injured abouh the head.
Smithson was sent to the Dewsbury and District Infirmary. He had his dog by his side when descending the hill and it was killed on the spot by one of the barrels falling unto it. Nearly all the barrels were smashed and their contents spilled in the road. Sunderland and Thompson were taken inside the Town Hall Recruiting Office and afterards removed to the Dewsbury and District Infirmary.