The Vintage Excavator Trust



Building the Iron - Ruston Bucyrus Excavators and how we built them


A new E-book by Geoff Lewis 


"Bring some spanners and give me a hand as I take you round the 22, 38 and 54 RB erecting shops!"


Link to Geoff's website here.

The VET was established to preserve Britain's Engineering Heritage.


Most people can relate to the Navvies who built the canals and railways with pick and shovel or a modern machine working on a contruction site. However, there is little knowledge of what was in between.


That is where the Trust comes in. 


Over the past 30 years the collection of Vintage Excavators has grown. Some machines are owned by the VET whilst others belong to individuals. Together they form a unique collection of some 80 machines.


The oldest is the 1909 built Ruston Proctor Number 306. This originally worked in a chalk pit in Bedfordshire. When the pit closed in 1931 it spent nearly 50 years underwater before being exctracted in 1977 by Ray Hooley.



The incredible story of no 306 and its rescue by a team of sub-aqua divers and staff and equipment from nine volunteering businesses is told in a new DVD, "The Ruston in the Blue Lagoon."


Its been made by Producer Andrew Blow (ex-ITV Yorkshire) who, like Ray Hooley, is based in the Ruston home city of Lincoln. It explains how the Trust has further renovated no 306, with the help of a Heritage Lottery Grant, to the extent that it is now the world's oldest working excavator.


The DVD is available in the Threlkeld shop or online from here:

It can be streamed from here:


The DVD covering the restoration along with a booklet covering Early Excavators can be purchased here.



If you would like to become a member of the VET then please download the membership form.


The secretary, Pam Beaumont, can be contacted by email on

VET Membership Application
VET membership-application.docx
Microsoft Word document [64.0 KB]

The Ruston Proctor Steam Navvy restored to working order in 2015

Privately owned 19-RB and 10-RB at work in at the September Working Weekend 2016