The 6th March Steam & Vintage Show took place at Floods Ferry Road March over the weekend of 3-4 August. There were a few minor tweaks to the layout this year, with the bygones & model displays moving back across the roadway along with the classic caravans to join the stalls and club displays on the right-hand side of the showground as you come in the gate, leaving the left-hand side clear for the vehicle displays, fairground and occasional stalls or catering if required. The other change was that the stationary engine lines moved across the roadway further towards the centre of the field, although most of the steam engines remained in the bottom left-hand corner beyond the roadway, but overall, probably the layout to stick with for future years.
There were a few extra barn engines this year to fill most of the visible gaps from last year although there was rumoured to be a couple of deserters to another show not that far away, but I would expect them to return if they are able to next year. Right at the end of the line, there were a few interesting proper vintage vehicles, a Morris Commercial estate bus, a similar slightly larger charabanc and a model T van as modelled by Corgi, joined by a veteran De Dion Bouton car on Sunday, and supplemented by a more modern commercial, the Morris FFK belonging to the Jacklin family.
Commercials were a little thinner on the ground this year, partly down to the Gowler fleet not attending, although one of their former lorries was on the field as mentioned above. Also, the organisers didn't have any of their own fleet on site this year, so there you have 6-7 vehicles down before you start. There were also hardly any military vehicles this year, but this could be due to Baston Blitz event being held near Peterborough over the same weekend. It was good to see at least a couple of ex London Transport buses amongst the mainly local lorries. There was a reasonable selection of motorbikes on show, and likewise classic cars and light commercials.
As mentioned earlier, the steam section were down in the bottom corner of the field, There was a similar number of full-size steam on display, with Dragon/Pride of the Fens Burrell Scenic Showman's engine being towed in behind a JCB FastTrack on Sunday morning, presumably returning in the same manner at the end of the day. I would say there was nearly a score of miniature steam together with a couple of other miniature vehicles as well, and good to see the couple we were parked next to at Lopham's Vintage Rally a week or so before.
Next to the miniatures was an archery display, then the Wild Bunch with their western town, leading on to the Wall of Death (present this year after being absent last) and then on to the beer tent and food court area. In front of the food court, a semi-open area led up to the main ring with trade stands on two sides, and then another couple of rows of stalls before reaching the awning displays.
After being parked up in nowhere-land last year, we were better situated this with two rows facing each other across a wide walkway. The displays were geared more towards models, but again, there were several absentees from the usual crowd, probably fed-up after last year's positioning. This year was much better, but I have to say, it only takes one person to start packing up and more join in, and speaking as a past volunteer steward at similar local events (indeed on the same site for a number of years), I was disgusted that at least two exhibiters had completely packed away their display and taken down their awnings by 3pm. In my opinion, it's not fair on the organisers or any public that are still on the field.
Some people do come out after lunch to these shows, but if part of the show is packing up as they are walking around, what is to encourage them to come another year? Attendances may fall, shows may fail, and then the same people who are keen to pack up and get off will be moaning there is nothing on for them to go to. One might argue that some exhibitors may have a long way to go, but one was local and another less than 25 miles away.
Behind the awning displays, a small but diverse line up of horse-drawn, vintage & classic caravans were also back where they are best displayed, and these bridged the gaps to the club displays. Indeed, Wisbech & District Historic Vehicle Club's caravan section were part of this and facing them this year were the Peterborough Farm Machinery Preservation Society, Peterborough Pushrods & Pistons, the Ford Granada club (apologies not sure of their formal name) and the St Neots-based Odd Wheel Club. Opposite across the roadway, the Scammell Register had one of their promotional units on site.
Lastly it was great to see our near neighbours the Dunlop family still firmly involved with the ongoing preservation and safe-guarding of the future of the former Borough of Wisbech Leyland fire engine, Vivien, after George's death last year. There is now a small range of promotional items on sale such as keyrings, mugs, coasters, calendars, tea-towels and even a jigsaw, with images painted by acclaimed local artist Roy Didwell, whose perspective on vintage machinery is widely liked around the area. Please support this venture if you can, it is a part of our local history.
As last year, no programme so cannot yet confirm dates for next year, best to keep an eye on the event's Facebook page for more info.