This film is part of Free

A Ruston No 6 Crane Navvy

Shifting limestone at 100 tons an hour - the Ruston steam navvy at work.

Promotional 1920 9 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Media Archive for Central England


Before diesel power the only way to excavate large amounts of material quickly was by using a steam shovel. The machines were developed in America in the 19th century and could work on rails as well as caterpillar tracks. One such machine was the Ruston No. 6 Navvy made in Lincoln by Ruston and Hornsby. This early promotional film shows the rugged equipment in action. It may look primitive but compared to a gang of men with shovels its advantages are obvious.

Ruston and Hornsby was formed by the merger of Richard Hornsby and Sons of Grantham and Ruston Proctor and Company of Lincoln in 1918. Ruston and Proctor had demonstrated the effectivness of the steam navvy as far back as 1910. The No.6 Navvy was in production until the early 1930s.