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Sentinel Steam Waggons vol1 cover    

          The Sentinel Volume 1  1875-1930

                    Authors W.J.(Bill) Hughes & Joseph L Thomas

                     This book was written by W.J.(Bill) Hughes based on information supplied by J.L.Thomas and published

                     by David & Charles Ltd in 1974. 

              It covers the formation of Alley & Macllelan Ltd by Stephen Alley and John Macllelan in 1875. It describes in detail the development of the product range including ships engines[picture 1 ], steering gear, [picture ]  haulage winches, a range of valves, and even  complete pre-fabricated  ships.  [picture 3]  Stephen Alley died in 1895 and was succeeded by his son  Stephen Evans Alley then only 25.    

  sentinel steam waggons steering gear Vol1 ph2                               sentinel steam waggons vol1pic2                            sentinel steam waggons pre fab ships Vol1 ph3

Picture 1 Ships Engines                                    Picture 2 Steering Gear                        Picture 3 Pre-fabricated Ships

The highways act of 1896 lead to the development of a whole new breed of light steam vehicles and a series of trials by emerging manufacturers.  Among these was Simpson & Bibby who after struggling for several years sold their patent rights to Alley & Macllelan Ltd who were looking for new products with higher added value. The book describes in detail the early Simpson-Bodman and Simpson-Bibby steam ‘lurries’ [picture 4]and how Daniel Simpson was forced to find a new source of finance in 1902. This turned out to be Stephen Alley resulting in the first Sentinel steam waggon being built in 1905 based on the designs of Daniel Simpson.

The ‘Standard Sentinel’ waggon, as it later became known, was very successful from the start. (Note: Unlike other manufactures Sentinel always called their vehicles waggons with two ‘g’s’).  These were made as 3 ton and 6 ton models with flat, sided and tipper bodies. Other bodies including vans, tankers, gully emptiers, tar sprayers and post & chain were available to order. 

sentinel steam waggons steam lorry Vol1 pic4      sentinel steam waggon cabless lorry Vol1 ph5

Picture 4 Steam Lurries                       Picture 5 Standard Waggon

Initially these waggons had no cab for driver protection and were fitted with metal straked or wooden fellow wheels. [picture 5]  By 1907 a crude cab roof was fitted and in 1912 solid rubber tyred wheels were available as an optional extra. By 1914 rubber tyres were standard on all waggons. 

The advent of the first world war increased demand considerably and put a great strain on production space at Polmadie.  In 1915 Alley & MacLlelan prefabricated a complete new factory in Glasgow which they erected on a green field site in Whitchurch Road, Shrewsbury specifically for the production of Steam waggons.

The first wagon left the Shrewsbury works in September 1915.  Two years later Stephen Alley sold all his shares in Alley & MacLlelan Ltd and then bought the whole manufacturing unit at Shrewsbury becoming Managing Director and majority shareholder.  From then on The Sentinel Waggon Works Ltd traded as an entirely separate company.

The factory was totally re-styled in 1923 to produce the new Super-Sentinel steam waggon [picture 6]which is described in detail in the book.  In the same year they produce a steam loco [picture 9]and railcar unit using Super-Sentinel engine and boiler units. In 1924 they added a tractor for towing trailers. [picture 7]  This was developed into a ploughing tractor and a timber tractor with ‘roadless’ tracks.  A horse drawn portable engine on a frame was produced in 1925 available in single and double-cylinder versions. [picture 8] Each of these developments are described with technical detail and photos.

stentinel steam waggons vol1ph6                        sentinel steam waggons vol1ph7             sentinel steam waggons vol1ph8  

Picture 6 Super-Sentinel Waggon             Picture 7 Tractor for towing               Picture 8 Portable Engine

sentinel steam waggons vol1ph9                 sentinel steam waggons vol1ph10  

Picture 9 Steam Loco                                 Picture 10 Double Engine Railcar

The book also covers Sentinel trailers which were available in various sizes from the start in 1905. Remarkable six-cylinder single acting engine was developed in 1929 for use in the L.N.E.R. railcars both with single and later double-engines. [picture 10]

The company introduced a new double-geared (DG) waggon in 1927 but this development was reserved for chapter one of the second volume.


This book was published by David & Charles Ltd in 1975 and sold out three years later.  I try to buy second-hand copies whenever I can on the open market for re-sale.  Sometimes I am offered copies by members of the various steam clubs I am in and rarely refuse even though the price is often high due to the rarity.

If you want to buy a copy then please e-mail me to check on availability and current price at :

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