Object type
Remains of a steam car, the 'Blue Belle', built by Col. R.E.B. Crompton C.B., F.R.S., between 1862 and 1868 in Rawal Pindi, Punjab, then in India but now in Pakistan. Crompton is quoted extensively in a pamphlet commemorating the presentation of the remains to the Motor Museum in 1912. In it he states that he commenced work “with the assistance of a blacksmith . . . the construction of the first portion of the engine which I, at a later date, christened the ‘Blue Belle’. By 1862, he had “put together and run experimentally a rough road car of which the wheels and frame still exist, and for which I cast and bored the cylinders and made the slide valves and most of the motion which is now on the engine in the Museum”. He continued with the project, but only slowly, because of the studies required to pass the examinations for the Army. In 1864 he went out to India, stationed in the Punjab (Rawal Pindi). When he discovered that he had a great deal of leisure time, he wrote home and asked for certain parts of the first engine to be sent out to India. This included a steam fire-engine boiler fitted with Field tubes, as this was the lightest form of boiler available. Once he had received the boiler, some angle irons for the frame a set of axles, a 6 in. screw-cutting lathe and a small planing machine, he set to work – primarily during the hot weather – during 1866 and 1867. He “completed the car . . . about the year 1868” and went on to perfect it further over the next four years. When he left India, he “brought parts of the ‘Blue Belle’ with him, giving all that was left of them to the Motor Museum in 1912.

Steam car

Road Transport