13th - 14th July 2019
This was the 10th Anniversary Sommer Show event for the Starting Handle Club, but the first at this new venue at Spring Farm, Fir Covert Road, Felthorpe, adjacent to the new Norwich NDR road to the north of the city. Sadly, for those of us approaching from the west, we will have to wait some years to see it link up to the A47, so the trip in was through several villages on relatively narrow roads in places. I understand this event used to be part of the Marsham show that is still being held in August at Bob Parke's premises at Marsham, however, I don't know why it's now a separate show.
The Marsham rally did have a group display adjacent to the horticultural machine close by the main parade ring. This new venue has good access roads on site, plenty of parking, access to a working field where the mini-tractor pullers could play to their heart's content and the ploughman could also have a go, and a large show-field that was far from flat, with several big dips and undulations dotted around. This didn't make any difference in real terms as the static tractors were placed around the rim of the two biggest dips, grouped together by maker and then roughly in order of age
The main ring was close to the bottom of the field, due to the need to find a relatively flat bit of ground but was under-utilised with long periods with nothing going on. There was also a working arena at the opposite end of the field, where a very comprehensive hay-making demonstration was made once each day. However, the only commentary was through a megaphone as there was no PA here. There was some very interesting equipment on show here, but before and after the demo, it was all parked up out-of-bounds at the back of this area, and not displayed to the public.
I would suggest all these tractors and bits of equipment could have been displayed at the front of the arena, paraded up to the main ring and the demonstration done there with the benefit of full PA and making another main ring event each day. Yes, there might have been a bit of hay left around, but nothing that couldn't have been quickly cleared, given the equipment and number of bodies involved.
The NICE Society had a very varied club display with plenty of their members taking part with tractors, cars, stationary engines, bygones and models, and this led onto the stationary engine line with quite a good selection of engines, interspersed with the odd bygone display. The Norfolk Fire Engine Museum had several preserved appliances and their model fire-engine on show just across yet another dip.
There were only a few late model large commercials, and a small number of military vehicles, mainly at the lighter end of the market, e.g. Land Rovers and jeeps. Likewise, about a dozen or so motorbikes and similar number of cars on Saturday, but these trebled on Sunday when two long lines were present. Between the tractors and the car-park was a line of model and awning/bygone displays, and then two rows of trade stands facing each other across an aisle.
Right in the middle of the field was the bar, with S&F Catering and a baked potato stand adjacent. Although S&F do quite a range of good stuff, they're not the cheapest way to eat out, and I thought a separate burger & bacon baps stand might prove useful. However, possibly due to the high volume of good quality sport on tv over the weekend, e.g. Wimbledon tennis finals, Grand Prix & Cricket World Cup, I thought visitor numbers were a little sparse so what was on the field was all that was really needed.
I'll be honest and say it was a toss-up whether to attend the SHC show or Cambridgeshire Tractor Club's show at Stow-cum-Quy near Cambridge which is slightly nearer to us, so we may well give that one a try next time around before deciding which one to visit regularly in years to come, assuming they clash again. However, thanks for inviting us and I think I even managed to spot Facebook's Heritage Snapper on Saturday, who managed to do both shows over the weekend.