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Steam Rally

3rd - 4th June 2012

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This was our first trip back to Carrington since 2008 and was a much more pleasant affair despite Sunday's incessant rain. Maybe because of the Jubilee celebrations planned for Monday night, most exhibitors stayed the distance and it was generally only the heavy vehicles and gung-ho drivers who needed a tow out. With mostly fine weather on Monday and a drying wind, Tuesday morning departures went smoothly for most. The stationary engine line-up, having been reinstated properly last year, now occupies the dividing line between the show field and the camping, with the latter being provided in just two rows behind the engines.

Engines were displayed facing both the tractor lines and some trade stands, depending on which section you were placed in. Only about 40% of the engines were uncovered and running on Sunday but a few day-trippers swelled the ranks on Monday. The feature tractors this year were David Brown & Case, and these were lined up in model & date order in both sections. This approach follows through the rest of the tractors although the other veteran are lined up in a horseshoe formation backing on to Crawford's trade stand which also featured Fowler & Field Marshall machines alongside their modern offerings.

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There were several tractors, Case, David Brown & Massey Harris in wartime liveries, US Army, Royal Air Force & United States Air Force respectively, the latter two displayed alongside a replica Hurricane aircraft. The horticultural contingent put on a very colourful and well presented section offering many different machines including Ransomes, OTA, Gunsmith, British Anzani, Geest, Trusty, Winget, Bowlands, Bristol, Massey Ferguson, Gutbrod, Kubota, Wheel Horse & BMB, alongside several other displays of hand tools, push hoes, etc. By virtue of the ground conditions, the steam section were pretty much stranded where they were put, but what a treat to see the two surviving Robey steam lorries next to each other, however, what a shame they were not what I would call side-by-side for a worthwhile photo opportunity.

Looking at them 'side-by-side', there are considerable differences between the two but once you know that one has been rebuilt from an articulated 3-axle tanker into the 2-axle 6-ton wagon form, the differences make more sense. Both are based within the local area. Again, given the local steam fraternity & manufacturer history, one expected to see a number of Foster showmen's engines, however, they seemed a little thin on the ground with only a couple on display alongside a Wallis & Steevens built in Devizes. Two of these engines provided additional spectacle for the Queen's Jubilee Beacon lighting ceremony late on Monday night. For a relatively small show, the fairground organs were out in force, and were what I term full-size instruments rather than street organs.

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Moving up-field to the commercials, several entrants had brought showmen's living vans alongside their tractor units and it was these that seemed to need a tow out. There were one or two lorries that I don't think I'd seen before but I was disappointed not to get a photo of the Bedford-Scammell OS with its box trailer which had disappeared come Monday. Cars seemed low in numbers compared to even the wet rallies of old, there being just two lines including the WDHVC caravan section, but there was a good selection spanning the 1930s to the 1970s.

There were gaps in the motorcycle section but again a good selection of veteran through to classic amongst their number and I did like the way they were displayed, in a planned haphazard way if that makes sense. Bygones was another section that was abolished some years back but now is back, but it seems that snubbed exhibitors of times past have long memories as there was only one entrant in this section, parked next to a sweet little classic caravan. The model tent was half empty with many vacant tables, no doubt caused by anticipated difficulties in getting exhibits from accommodation to marquee and back again.

Trade stands and stalls were placed facing each other across the two long sides of the main ring with another row facing some of the stationary engines and fairground, plus a few others between the ring and the commercials. The auto-jumblers and junk stalls were positioned at the far end of the field where the stationary engines used to be when we last visited and seemed to be well out of the show as a result. We didn't visit the auction on Saturday but the car-boot sale was definitely smaller than I remember and for the first time, I didn't actually buy anything.

2017: TBA

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