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Steam Rally

24th - 26th May 2014

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Our return visit to the 55th Carrington Rally Steam & Heritage Show went well, despite a lot of rain falling late Friday night and into Saturday morning, which decimated the Saturday car-boot sale, although the Auction in fields across the other side of the main road went ahead as planned. However, belief in the improving forecast carried the organising committee through Saturday and early Sunday morning, and gradually it all improved steadily over the weekend. That said, most of the heavier steamers stayed on the hard-standing just inside the exhibitors entrance to the showfield, but some naive comments on Facebook about the lack of a steam ring parade on Sunday afternoon show how little some visitors know about theses types of shows and how difficult they are to put on in those conditions.

Anybody who comes to Carrington should know after all these years and the number of times the show has come up against the weather that if it's rained on Saturday, bring your Wellies and a dose of Great British spirit and get on with it. Layout was pretty much unchanged to what I remember in 2012, although I can't speak for last year when we were away caravanning, but roughly working across the field it runs tractors and theme, horticultural and trade stands, more stalls & trade stands bordering the ring, then beer tent & fair, vehicles (motorcycles, cars, commercials & military) and finally miniature steam & bygones. Large steam and junk stalls border the car-park where the pedestrian entrances are, and across the far side, the craft and bygones marquee and stationary engines form the dividing line between show and camping area.

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The main agricultural theme this year was Ford & Fordson with Ransomes implements as a sub-theme, one which could be run across the horticultural section as well for a change, plus a focus on those veteran tractors which were over 100 years old. The themed tractors occupied the half of the field near the stationary engines while the balance of other makes ran up towards where the steam line would normally be positioned. The veterans were tucked in a square area behind the Robert H Crawford & Son trade stand. At this point it is worth mentioning the Crawford family and company as they bring a diverse number of exhibits to the show from their base a short distance up the road at Frithville. This year we had the Matbro Mantis mechanical digger, based on a Fordson skid unit, very much a compatriot of the early JCB 'gravedigger' models.

We also had the 1897 Hornsby tractor, 1925 Robey steam wagon, early 20s Ford truck and Austin Gipsy on display amongst their other more anonymous machinery. As the weather and ground improved, the number of vehicles on display increased from Sunday to Monday, with a number of commercials finally moving out from the camping to the show field. Likewise, more cars appeared on Monday although to be the fair there was a nucleus of owners who either came both days or who were staying on site like the WDHVC caravan section. The motorbikes were parked in a seemingly haphazard arrangement but I think the pegs were either on a curve or diagonal/ diamond formation, either way I liked it as you could either get a good individual shot close-up or two full bikes in the picture without them being too close together as at some other shows.

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There was a little bit of chuntering from an early arrival on the engine line when we arrived teatime Friday and got placed on the front camping row, not that we had anything to say in the matter. However, after some loud and barbed comments, a hard confrontational week at work and a great desire just to relax and enjoy whatever the weekend brought, he had to be told to go and complain somewhere else and as is so often the case, he soon shut up and we ignored each other for the rest of the weekend.

Noticeably, he'd moved his van Sunday night so he could be one of the first to load up and b*gger off, although sometimes an early exit can lead to delays if you get stuck on a cowpat or on a bit of mud, as another engine man found out. It must have been the weight of the silverware that did it. However, with a bit of pushing and shoving from his mates, he was eventually on his way. Sometimes, it's just better to wait and have your pick of the available exit routes later in the day.

All-in-all, not a bad weekend, and next year's dates were published in the programme as Saturday 23rd May for the Auction & car-boot. We'll hopefully see you at the show itself on 24th-25th May 2015.

2017: TBA

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