25th March 2017
The 25th Anniversary Bygone & Organ Extravaganza at Little Downham Village Centre (Hall) near Ely, Cambridgeshire, enjoyed lovely sunshine and good weather on Saturday 25th March. There was a bit of a change this year as the grass paddock previously used for the tractors, stationary engines and exhibitor parking has been redeveloped in the intervening 12 months with two pair of semi-detached bungalows, so the agricultural contingent moved to the grass area in front of the Feoffees Primary School just a few yards up the road.
In all, there were approximately 14 tractors including a pair of Bristols (keep it clean), Farmalls, Nuffields, Fergies, John Deere & Allis Chalmers machines, plus a trio of stationary engines, John Deere, Bamford & Ruston Hornsby, supported by a pair of road-thumpers. This was a highly visible and colour display right on the main street.
Also highly visible was the full-size Ruston & Proctor traction engine 'Success' together with a half-size Foden steam lorry in local firm Darby's livery plus a smaller scale Tasker 'Little Giant' engine and another, make not noted. The Lykamobile 'replica' steam car with its distinctly non-replica disk brakes flitted about from place to place throughout the afternoon.
In the car-park of the hall, a trio of larger organs played throughout the day. The De Jonker organ with its large busty figurehead is always a big draw, as is the Froment family's Pell 'Fenlander II' and the 'Los Tubos' dance organ. Lined up neatly in front of the organs was perhaps a smaller-than-usual contingent of cars & light commercials, perhaps a score in total, almost universally British apart from the Jeep & BMW Issetta bubble-car. There were a handful of motorbikes including a Norzuki racer (Norton frame, Suzuki engine) similar in concept to the Triton.
A small selection of hand-turned organs lined up in the sun leaving just a couple inside the hall to entertain, which made a slightly quieter experience for the bygone exhibitors inside. There was a couple of new faces, a sad consequence of Tony Brown's unexpected passing last October. We took along the thick end of 1000 matchboxes packed into steel trays for ease of handling and display, and the bulk of our collection of smaller oil tins and petroliana, which went down very well, especially the French tins.
Other collections on show included two lots of paraffin (Tilley) lamps, several differing lots of household displays, old tools, restored & replicated unusual musical boxes & instruments, Fenland skating memorabilia, Royal Mail collectables, 2-gallon petrol cans, tea-pots, pocket-watches and small oil cans. There were also a couple of model displays, large-scale trucks and a threshing set-up. As usual, the raffle took over an hour to allocate all the prizes, the staff in the kitchen worked tirelessly all day preparing and serving snacks; it was a very enjoyable afternoon, and proceeds from the day topped GBP1500.