2nd - 4th May 2015
The 37th Annual Cavalcade of Historical Transport & Country Show organised by Rushden Historical Transport Society was another very successful show with promised rain throughout Sunday morning just cutting back the number of visitors and exhibits for that day only. Indeed, the Saturday saw a record-breaking opening-day crowd come through the gates and Monday was also very busy. Once through the pay gates regular visitors might have been a little bemused to find the initial row of trade stands that used to lead them into the middle of the site had disappeared in favour of a larger display areas for commercial vehicles. Taking full advantage of this, the Suffolk firm of Derek Cooper Transport had brought along around a 20-strong fleet of mainly classic & vintage vehicles.
Made up of a number of older working units with no less than 7 low-loaders to carry a mixture of Scania, Volvo, ERF, Guy, Atkinson and Ford vehicles, mostly in their own livery but others as purchased such as the Alfred Dexter Ltd Atkinson, Cloud Hill Foden S20 tipper & McNichol ERF LV, a most impressive display that dwarfed what they had a Norwich a few weeks earlier, all Rushden's gain and Truckfest's loss. Parked up around and about were the rest of the commercials which I thought was quite a good mix of vehicles this year. This included the ERF A-Series GOB160N which has been in a state of on-going restoration over the last couple of years but this year appeared repainted in a smart brown and yellow Double Diamond livery, part of the Ind Coope brewery group of companies.
Tucked in amongst the trade stands was a long-nosed normal-control International of what looked like New-Zealand heritage with its dual-purpose living and display accommodation, and at the far end of the fairground the Foden DG with Lang Wheels body and Ruston generators in Billy Smart's Circus livery appeared to earning its keep helping to power part of the fairground. Back near to the bulk of the commercials and also occupying part of the former trade-stand area mentioned above, the military displays were up to their usual standard. The marquee displaying the supply routes for foods, munitions, etc. had an area showing uniforms and equipment this year but was still a very good display that must take a lot of setting up. Outside the rare armoured Bedford RL was perhaps the most unusual exhibit closely followed by the French-built Berliet.
The Thornycroft Mighty Antar with its large gun competed with the Foden IMMLC DROPS with its light tank load which was easily demounted and reloaded at odd times throughout the weekend. Adjacent to the commercials and military were the tractors lines, and as so often is the case, a fairly solid line-up of Fordson, Massey-Ferguson and Nuffields to the fore with a few John Deeres and a solitary Allis Chalmers and Field Marshall. There was the odd interloper such as a Garner, BMB President and Turner Yeoman of England but not a rally for the veteran tractor enthusiast, as last year's International Titan 10-20 did not return. Horticultural exhibits are also paltry with just a Trusty Steed and Ransomes MG crawler exhibited as part of the motorcycle section, plus a couple of ex grass-cutter tractors dotted around the site. The motorbikes suffered a little at the weather as Sunday is usually the best day for single day visitors and this was spoilt by the early rain. There was a reasonable line-up on show including the odd veteran (riders as well as bikes).
This also applied to the car section although to be fair Saturday and Monday numbers were around where they normally are. The Ford Granada owners brought out a varied selection of standard cars and limousine conversations, the local Kettering Area Motor Club had a small display, as did the Mini club and the St Neots based private collection of TVRs. As usual in this area, there were a few American dreamboats but at the other end of the scale the odd people's cars such as the Volkswagen Beetle and Skoda R110. I thought this Skoda to be around the earliest I have seen preserved locally but Thorny Garage may have an even early version for sale at the moment. The classic camper line-up was also in this section and included such varied vehicles as a Citroen H-van, Airstream-influenced Argosy and the Watson family's pair of Commer PBs. The classic caravans were across in the other back field but seemed fewer in number than previous years.
Also in this field were the miniature steam engines but whatever coal most of them seemed to be burning at the time of our visit was quite acrid and didn't encourage me to stay for photos, sorry about that. The full size steam were in their usual positions and included a good selection of all types of engine, it seemed to me. I believe there were just two fairground organs and these were situated quite close to each other in the vintage commercials area. The models marquee was up to the usual standard incorporating a variety of displays of circus, fairground, diecast, transport, dioramas, model boats, etc. The line-up of awning displays included yet more models including one of my favourites, the display of old toy garages.
The bygones side of these seem to be reducing in number, however, with just our collection of bottles, display of cast-iron machinery seats, oil-company memorabilia and Oxo collection on show, the latter two amongst the 1940s themed displays close to the pay-gate. Opposite the line of awning displays was the stationary engines and again this seemed to be smaller in number, although I know a couple had returned to the fold at Stradsett in west Norfolk. However, although the numbers were not huge, there were a few unusual engines to be seen such as the Ruston PT carrot-hopper and the Sittley open-crank.
Trade stands were still plentiful despite being condensed into two main areas, but the best buys for me are usually within the models or second-hand stalls. Steve's Tool Emporium is a complete lottery as far as what you might find as half his stuff never gets out of the van, but this year yielded a super set of 13-inch wheel trims for a bargain price that have already improved the appearance of the caravan and may well do the same for the car-trailer. Catering was plentiful and not too expensive compared to what was paid at Norwich a few weeks ago, and the magnificent beer tent speaks for itself.