We decided to do something different at Woolpit this year, which the organisers kindly accepted, which was to revert to a bygones display rather than take stationary engines, something I used to do up until around the turn of the Millennium. Thanks to being on holiday from work, we were able to get there at a decent time and were rewarded with a front row position on the edge of the parade ring. This was great for being in the thick of things, but I did find people generally were looking towards the ring and not at the display, but hey-ho, never mind.
1919 was the year of the Lincoln Tractor Trials, which will hopefully be recreated later in the year at the Casterton Working Weekend, but Woolpit had managed to gather together no fewer than 13 International Junior 8-16 tractors in varying stages of preservation, to celebrate a centenary of that particular model. It was possible to capture (as long as you had the patience) a picture of nine in a line, but the remainder were on a second row behind the first. Several of these machines had trailed implements, including a cultivator, Bamlett mower and hay-turner.
As usual there was also a very good display of other veteran tractors, including a trio of IHC Titan 10-20n tractors, which preceded the Junior. As well as the Dart seen at Stradsett, this year's other rare offering was a Centaur G2 from 1932 displayed with a Wallis mower. Comparing the Centaur to the earlier Moline and Fowler machines, one thinks it was about a decade behind the times. Like the Juniors, several tractors had attached implements, which is very nice to see. There was also the usual mix of slightly newer vintage and classic tractors on the slope facing the steamers.
There was no miniature steam presence again this year, but there were one or two different full-size engines on show. The wood-sawing was being handled by a newly acquired Ransomes 7hp machine of 1919, which apparently worked in the Fens, and was fitted with wider-than-normal back wheels. Does anyone know why? The Foden steam lorry now appears in Devon County Council livery for whom it worked during its service life, however, I much preferred it in its patina when repatriated from the Henry Ford Museum in the USA.
The stationary engine lines had a little extra space this year as one section moved further into what had previously been part of the carpark to make room for some of the larger commercials. This was because part of the site had been reseeded this year, and the grass needed further time to grow. That said, the smaller jeeps and a couple of military trucks still parked in their traditional place at the top of the bill and Baker's own vehicles were up behind the barn to greet visitors from the overflow carpark.
Back with the stationary engines, several regular exhibitors (including ourselves) were missing for whatever reasons, be it illness, other commitments etc, so they did indeed have plenty of room. There was also a new cup this year, sponsored by P Neave, for Best Unrestored engine, a category which will usually have plenty of potential winners at Woolpit, and one that may be safe from one regular achiever!
Sunday is usually a better day for cars at Woolpit and this year was no exception. New addition this year was an early vintage caravan, and also a very nice Mercedes cabriolet, not listed in the programme, so perhaps a substitute entry. Next to it was a plain white Austin Sheerline limo, a good wedding car if ever I saw one. The Peerless made a very welcome return, but there were several other older very classy vehicles on show. As well as the two fire engines and Foden 4-axle bulker belonging to the site owners, the commercial section also provided a BRS Parcels Scammell Scarab and two buses, a London Transport AEC Routemaster & a Bristol K double-decker of Westcliff-on-Sea Motor Services.
As usual we managed a few bargains from the various stalls, a few more small grease tins to add to the garage collection, some horse brasses to augment Dad's collection and some other odds & ends. There's usually a good mix of collectables and bygones for sale. Caz's favourite plant stall Country Bumpkins were also on site, so of course, I had to find some room for some hanging baskets on the way back.
There were no Walsh & Clarke ploughing engines this year or a threshing drum, but the chaff-cutter was being worked by a David Brown tractor under the trees in the wood-sawing area. Adjacent to this a couple of Caterpillar bulldozers were levelling off a small clearing in the woods which may mean an extra display area next year, perhaps? Let's wait and see if I'm correct.