The Victrorian era and beyond – From steam to trailers
Taskers History – continued……..
William’s Taskers sons took over the business in 1857. William named his first two sons after himself and his brother and in 1858 the company became Tasker & Sons, with Robert and a William Tasker at its head. Robert turned to farming but kept a financial interest leaving William jnr as the innovator. Between 1858 and 1873 he lodged a number of patents relating to threshing-machines, hay elevators and ploughs. Henry Tasker, seventeen years younger brother to William jnr. was apprenticed to steam engineers Clayton, Shuttleworth & Co in 1864 located at Stamp End Works Lincoln. He bought his knowledge of steam back to the family firm along with a license agreement with his former employer to sell and service their stationary boilers.
In 1865, the Waterloo Ironworks made its first three portable steam engines, but it wasn’t until 1891 that Tasker’s could ensure production uniformity of its engine components, and begin to realise the savings offered by ‘mass production’ techniques. With William’s input, such advances first appeared in the 8hp “Economic” steam engine and coincided with the departure from wrought iron to steel for the boiler, a material that helped revolutionize mass production processes.
In 1883 William passed away and Henry was left to manage all aspects of the business on his own. It seems that at some point he bought out his brother’s interests from his family which had a significant impact on the available capital to reinvest back into the business, although a share issue in 1902 raised enough finance to develop the ‘Little Giant’ engine, which although around 300 were produced, the company was liquidated in 1903, to bere-formed as W. Tasker and Sons in 1907. Taskers manufactured living wagons to accompany its steam rollers and of course sturdy shepherd huts which it seems were initially fitted with wooden axles with cast iron stub axles at their extremities, then later a mixture of cast iron and steel axle components throughout. A surge in production in the plant during the First World War was followed by an economic slump where production relied on steam roller manufacturer, but this wasn’t enough to hold off economic pressures and in 1926 the company succumbed and entered receivership and liquidation. The last steam engine, a C class road roller left the works in 1927.
In 1932 the business changed its name toTaskers of Andover (1932) Ltd specialising in commercial trailers. (Readers may at this point draw parallels to the firm Cranes, who ultimately became Crane Fruehauf). Sadly the foundry, pivotal in the creation of the engineering icon finally closed in 1937. A large order from the Air Ministry for Aircraft transportation trailers ensured the name survived through to 1968 when it became Tasker Trailers Ltd, them becoming a subsidiary of Craven Industries and then transferring to Montracon in 1983. Production ceased with the Waterloo Ironworks and the site leveled for housing in 1984.