The story of the world’s oldest working excavator, made in Lincoln in 1909, is told in a new documentary by a filmmaker from the city.
The excavator, made by Ruston, Proctor & Co, will be in steam again for the first time since the Covid pandemic began, at an event by the Vintage Excavator Trust in Cumbria on September 18 and 19.
And the event coincides with local filmmaker Andrew Blow releasing DVD ‘The Ruston in the Blue Lagoon’ – the story of how the excavator, known as Steam Navvy, spent 47 years under water before an incredible rescue by Lincoln engineering historian Ray Hooley, now aged 93.
The documentary looks at how the Steam Navvy spent decades in a Bedfordshire chalk pit, before Ray’s 18-month campaign to remove it. The remarkable operation involved a sub-aqua club and nine companies who donated their services including the owners of a 90-ton crane. It ended with the 45-ton Navvy being pulled from 25 feet of water, in October 1977.
The film shows how the excavator was finally restored with help from the Vintage Excavator Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and also looks back at the history of Ruston, Proctor and Co of Lincoln.
Ray, who has a Lincoln Civic Award for his work promoting the city’s industrial heritage, said: “I’m delighted the navvy will be steaming again. It’s gratifying that after such a long struggle future generations can enjoy it and learn from it.
“It’s also doing some good for the [Vintage Excavator] Trust because steam enthusiasts are heading there to see it.”
The DVD is available at the Lincoln Tourist Information shop in Castle Square and online here.