With long-term illness in the family, I didn't want to commit to a full weekend away at Norwich, so once again entered for just the Sunday with a couple of horticultural machines. Booking in on arrival, I was surprised to find that we were to be placed inside and on drawing up to the correct shed, a gentlemen soon appeared and told me exactly where he wanted the machines placed, such a change from last year when we couldn't find out where to drop them. As well as the horticultural, virtually all the motorbikes were inside as well with a few sharing one of the sheds with the horticultural, and the rest inside the main exhibition space as 2018.
Stationary engines were back near the booking-in office, which seems to be their most common site, as each year they've been placed somewhere else, they seem to revert to this area the next! I don't think there was quite as many as before, but that's what happens when they get pushed out to nowhere-land, the attendance gradually falls off. The predominate make seemed to be Lister. Squeezed in front of the engines and between them and the military were the classic cars, with an overflow section down by the edge of the main ring, so I guess it paid to be late to get a ringside place.
The Norfolk Military Vehicle Group had their usual large selection of hardware on display, with a mixture of staff cars, jeeps, Land Rovers and general-purpose trucks. When this event first started the emphasis was very much on tractors with a similar outlook to Newark & Malvern, Both those shows have evolved or diversified, whatever you may call it, into a wider vintage or heritage show, and Norwich has tried to do the same. The commercial vehicle section at Norwich is huge but the tractor sections have declined in the last few years, and something needs to be done to revitalise them.
It used to take a long time to look around the tractors but not anymore. However, on the plus side, at least there is plenty of space to get photos. Now you need to allocate more time looking around the lorries. Several fleets made the relatively short hop from the Cambridgeshire Fens, amongst them John Thomas, Tony Knowles, PC Howard & Burlingham's. Several local Norfolk fleets were also on show, including Abel's removals. Perhaps one of the more unusual exhibits was what I assumed to be an imported Australian-style- cabbed Atkinson, a boxier utilitarian shape than the equivalent age ash-framed coachbuilt UK Borderers, Venturers, etc on show.
On the opposite side of the showground, the Norfolk Fire Engine Trust had a variety of their engines on display, ranging from an Austin K2 towing vehicle, through the more modern Mercedes and Dennis appliances, to the awesome Seagrove which was giving rides across the showground. You get an idea of the size of this appliance when you see it return to its starting point, and it needs a banksman to make sure it can get around the corners without hitting the fencing set back on either side of the roadway.
To be honest one day was enough for me this year, and even then, I spent quite a bit of time sitting in the car. I know the show was earlier in the year this time being right at the end of March, rather than later in April, and that uncertainty over dates doesn't help either exhibitor or public attendance, but I'm not sure the show is sustainable in its present form. I suppose the motto is "use it or lose it", and hopefully it will return in 2020, but as I write this almost 6 weeks later, there is no clue on their website whether this will be the case.