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Awards and Loans

The Trust offers financial assistance to individuals or groups to carry through restoration or improvement projects to completion. The Trust also invites enquiries about sponsoring one or more Awards.

David Davies:

 A railway enthusiast from a very young age, Dave became a keen railway photographer but was always most interested in the engineering.  In 1965 he saw at Didcot GWR loco 4079 ‘Pendennis Castle.’ and was invited to help in its cosmetic restoration. Although he never met co-owner Bill McAlpine, Bill was indirectly responsible for what came later when Dave became a fireman and, after 9 years, a driver.  After a dozen years as a Great Western Society volunteer during which time he set up the machine shop, a career move took him to Plymouth. No railway preservation locally, but temptation presented itself in the form of a Robey Tandem Roller parked in a children’s playground in Tavistock. In 1982 the local authority agreed to donate it, and in 1983 the Robey Trust was formed.

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The roller was moved to the local college where Dave taught students patternmaking, foundry work and machining which enabled them to replace all the missing, worn or damaged parts.  Research for a history of Robey & Co meant a tour of UK looking at every Robey artefact know to exist. The MD of Robey of Lincoln, Mr Neville Beal, undertook to restore the roller’s boiler - the last boiler to come out of the Robey works. By then the Robey Trust had a good idea of Robey’s production 1854-1988 so the search was on for stationary engines of all types, plus one example of each type of road engine, thrasher, living van, stone crusher and so on plus an oil engine.In order to raise both profile and income, the Tavistock Steam Fair was established in 1991 and has been held every year since.



By this stage accommodation was becoming a serious problem; current storage was full and dedicated machine shop facilities were needed.  Fortunately the Heritage Lottery Fund appeared at this point and after months of intense work, the Trust was granted £85,000. As a result “The New Perseverance Ironworks” was built in 1995 to house, restore and display acquisitions which included experimental engines, boilers, a 40-ton winding engine and high-speed generating engines. The machine shops were added with Cincinnati mill and Mitchell lathe, which gave the opportunity to introduce training courses for Robey Trust members in the safe operation of machine tools, as well as engineering, welding/fabrication and wood-working, all duly certificated to NVQ standards.



In parallel with all this, the road steam fleet grew:-

  • The Tandem Roller was finished after 11 years;
  • The earliest Robey Portable engine known to exist in the UK was found;
  • Traction engine 33348 was found in Ireland;
  • The Robey prototype 3-point roller and the only Robey living van known to exist;
  • The only “convertible” engine 40991;
  • The earliest known Robey thrashing machine;
  • The first of only two living vans known to have been built by the firm;
  • A colonial direct-ploughing steam tractor from Mozambique;
  • A traction engine from Australia;
  • One of only two steam wagons in the UK.

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The Community room facilities built over the workshops are shared by other Tavistock groups, such as the History Society and the next project, after acquiring a large mine waste tip on adjacent land, is to remove it, so doubling the trust’s available land – but that is a project for the next generation!

Dave Davies time at the helm of the Robey Trust has demonstrated what transport heritage work it is all about: rescue, restoration, preservation, presentation, use, education, training and skills transfer. A wonderful achievement.





Guy Black: 

 Guy Black's passion for engineering was fostered in the metalwork classes at Rye Grammar School and followed up by an apprenticeship at Weslake Engineering, leading engine development consultants to motor manufacturers internationally. During this time he was involved in many development and design projects ranging from engines for racing motorcycles to a V12 F1 engine as well various road car projects. Inevitably, the motor sport environment of Weslakes inspired Guy to pursue his own motor sport ambitions, commencing with motorcycle racing and then to cars for speed trials and hill climbing. The success of his cars led to a regular stream of fellow competitors seeking Guy's expertise to improve their own car’s performance and this led to the formation of Lynx Engineering to restore and prepare historic Jaguars, C types and D types.

After learning to fly, his interest in aviation blossomed as one might expect, but not every new pilot takes on two Supermarine Spitfires for restoration. He was soon to become disappointed with the quality of the contracted out work which fell short of his exacting standards and to overcome this problem, Retrotec Ltd was formed as a sister company so that the work could be undertaken in-house. It was not long before the historic aircraft side took over completely and he withdrew from Lynx Enginerering and set up Aero Vintage, which will sell you all you need to restore or maintain your WWI, WWII or later aircraft, and will even sell you complete aircraft.

Fury Kestrel engine

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 In 1997 he set up the Historic Aircraft Collection Ltd to provide an operational platform for some of the vintage aircraft that Guy had restored, to exploit their potential in films and airshow work. The Historic Aircraft collection hosts superb restorations such as a Sopwith Pup of 1917, Hawker Fury, Hawker Nimrod 1 of 1932 Hawker Hurricane, Supermarine Spitfire and the latest restoration, an Airco DH9 WW1 bomber designed by Geoffrey de Havilland.


Guy is not one to sit back though as he continues searching for more rare machines to resurrect back to immaculate flying condition. Guy and his team now have a well-earned reputation within the historic aviation community for dedication to the highest levels of authenticity and craftsmanship, setting a standard others will find hard to equal. He has not only restored to very high standards a unique flight of aircraft but through his expertise makes available the materials and components which enable others to carry out their own aircraft restoration and preservation.


The National Transport Trust makes loans to groups, associations and individuals at advantageous rates for the restoration of artefacts - whether mobile or part of the infrastructure.  Applications must be supported by a simple business plan which demonstrates the financial viability of the project. A sample business plan is available on request from the Treasurer.


The Trust does occasionaly make Awards for schemes which further the preservation movement. Again if you wish further information please contact the Treasurer.


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National Transport Trust, Old Bank House, 26 Station Approach, Hinchley Wood, Esher, Surrey KT10 0SR