The Burghley Elephant


Traction engines were a fairly new innovation in the 1860s and the Marquis of Exeter was keen to keep up to date by having his own built, nicknamed the Burghley Elephant, but with unfortunate results.

“The ponderous traction engine, built by Messrs. Ashby and Jeffery, of Stamford, for the Marquis of Exeter, for the purpose of drawing heavy loads, and facetiously called the ‘Burghley Elephant’, has not behaved in a very tractable manner on its first appearance in public.  On Tuesday it was used for the first time for fetching coal from the Midland station-yard, and its first freak on entering the yard was partly to displace a large stack of coal.  With a great amount of management or mismanagement, backing &c., however, it steamed out of the yard with a little over four tons of coal behind it, in something between a railway truck and a stone waggon, without further mischief.  It proceeded all right then until it got near Miss Roberton’s, coach builder, where it again became unmanageable, and ran over a man and a vehicle standing in front of Miss Robertson’s shop : the latter was completely smashed, and the man, we are informed, received considerable injury.  It had a pilot in advance.”

Stamford Mercury, 20th September, 1867.