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The Columbia Printing Press

This Printing Press was manufactured between 1845 and 1851 by Clymer, Dixon and Company and purchased by Samuel Caddel of Rochester from V & J Figgins of London


The Columbia Press was the invention of George Clymer, an American of Swiss extraction. His interest in printing began when he was working for a manufacturer of wood screw presses which were in use at that time. By 1805 he was working independently and by 1814 he was in production with his new improved one-pull iron press The high cost of presses produced in America (between $400-$500) and the fact that they were by no means easily transportable forced Clymer to look towards England to enable him to produce saleable presses He left America in 1817 and on arrival in England he immediately patented his design for 14years. His first presses were manufactured in conjunction with R W Cope, who later made his name producing the rival Albion Press. By 1819 Clymer was making his own presses under his own name.

In 1830 Clymer went into partnership with one S Dixon and traded under the name of Clymer and Dixon The partnership lasted until Clymer's death in August 1834. The factory was then run by Dixon until 1845 when he took on an associate and the firm then traded under the name of Clymer. Dixon & Co. It was probably during the period 1845 to 1851, when the firm was sold, that the press now in the museum was built. Clymer & Dixon's factory lasted until 1863 when the works and all existing presses were sold One buyer was V Figgins of London, a type- founder, and it was from him that Samuel Caddel bought the Press. It was used to print the Rochester Gazette until 1868 when it ceased publication on the death of Caddel. The Press was transferred to the Rochester & Chatham Printing Company, who in 1933 presented it to the Eastgate House Museum in Rochester, where it resided until the late 1970's. It was then moved to the Guildhall Museum where the main frame stood on the forecourt in Rochester High Street.

In 1984 all components were moved to the Brook Pumping Station - with the help of the Royal Engineers - and restoration work was carried out by MIAG It is now back in working order, and it is occasionally used to print material for the museum.

The Aveling & Porter Diesel Road Roller

A Brief History of the Strood Works.

Thomas Aveling (1824-1882) set up an engineering works in Rochester in 1850.

He was a capable engineer and inventor and enthusiastic pioneer in the mechanisation of agriculture. In 1861 he established his works in Strood, inparnership with the capitalist Richard Porter, for the manufacture of traction engines.

The Invicta works flourished under the guidance of Aveling's son Thomas Lake Aveling. The Invicta works employed around 1000 men at the turn of the century.

After the First World War the firm became part of the Agricultural and General Engineers Limited. This company included other well known engineering companies such as Blackstone's of Stamford and Barford and Perkins of Peterborough. In December 1933 manufacture of Road Rollers was transfered to Grantham, Linconshire under the combined name of Aveling and Barford.

The factory was taken over by Wingets Limited for the manufacture of concrete mixers. Aveling's office building and part of Wingets factory has been preserved as part of the Civic Centre.

Although Thomas Aveling did not invent the steam roller, the Strood works produced road rollers from 1867 and became the worlds largest steam roller factory. Of the 12,700 steam engines built at Strood 8,600 were steam rollers. Aveling started producing oil engined rollers in 1923. These rollers were powered by a single cylinder slow running oil engine made by Blackstone. These early rollers followed the same basic design as the steam rollers having mang componants in common.

The story of the Diesel Roller at the Old Brook.


The roller was rescued from the childrens playing field in Darnley Road, Strood. By 1989 with changes in the way that safety was being regarded in children's play areas, the old roller that had given pleasure to countless number of children since 1965 (I was one! - ed) was doomed. Considered unsafe she was heading for the scrapyard.

Rochester City Council approached our group to see if we could take on the restoration of the roller. Both MIAG and the Council recognised the importance to both the local community and to the preservation world, why the roller should be saved. In 1989 the roller was moved to the Old Brook Pumping Station to start what was to be a 6 year restoration programme.

After surveying the roller to see waht was required the restoration began. Many of the parts of the roller had been welded together to stop small fingers being crushed. These parts , together with others that had rusted themselves together had to laboriously freed. The original Blackstone engine had hundreds of missing parts so a replacement was required, the quest taking 3 years. Other parts of the roller were fabricated from scratch, others repaired.

The roller is now fully working, although due to its size (13 tons) is rarely taken out. Its first 'trial' was in the nearby Chatham Historic Dockyard.

The original engine was a Blackstone ESI which developed 26bhp at 265rpm. The engine was later converted to type ESK, delivering 28bhp. The replacement engine is also an ESK. The roller is 16 feet long , 7 feet wide and weighs 13 tons. The elegant funnel reminiscent of earlier steam rollers houses the engines exhaust pipe. The roller is a Q type. It was sold to the Rochester Corporation in 1925 and is still giving service to the community today.


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