John Fowler established his Steam Plough Works in Leeds in 1862, his firm going on to be a leading maker of traction engines and agricultural implements, their early machines built by Kitson, Thompson & Hewitson. The B class heavy road haulage engines were built from 1880. Fowlers built an armoured steam road train in 1900 for use in the South African war, where Boer snipers were wreaking havoc. A large Fowler engine clad in armour plating towed three four-wheel armoured trailers for troops. Flaps at the sides of the trailers could be hinged open for the soldiers to fire out at the enemy. Fowlers were mostly compound engines, and all their machines were superbly built. The most notable Fowler machines were the pairs of massive ploughing engines, the backbone of the mechanisation of British farming in the early 20th century. They also produced large quantities of traction engines, steam rollers and road locomotives, many of them big 'Lion' locomotives, the four-shaft 7nhp Lion, the 8nhp Big Lion and the 10nhp Super Lion, together with splendid showman's engines, the last of which sold in Britain was Super Lion 'Supreme', in 1934. Smaller steam tractors included the three-shaft double crank compound E Class. Fowler had already produced their first oil-engined tractor in 1909, and from 1912 they made Fowler-Wyles Motor Ploughs. In 1927 the massive Fowler Gyrotiller was launched, a half-track with a single front wheel, many of which were exported. In the face of competition from heavy oil engined trucks Fowlers made steam wagons from 1924, then tried diesel wagons from 1931. Neither effort was successful, and also abortive was a diesel showman's tractor produced in 1935. Fowler's experience in the 1930s with crawler tractors led to building Matilda tanks in the Second World War. After the War Fowler merged with Marshall of Gainsborough, produced the Track Marshall, a tracked version of the Field Marshall tractor, and the Fowler Challenger Mark V diesel tracked tractor. All production ceased in early 1974.
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