The rebranded Earls Barton Transport Show was held over the August Bank Holiday weekend at the usual site Whites Nurseries just off the A45 around a mile from the town, and really was not a lot different to the previous Rally & Country Fayre. Slightly smaller in volume, and without any country crafts, and no major ring attractions, the event suffered the obligatory rain this time on the Sunday which decimated what is usually the strongest day for public. Kim's Auction went ahead as usual on the Saturday, with just under 400 lots on offer. Again, we were well happy with prices fetched for the stuff we took but struggled to find much of interest to buy.
I'm not sure what went on behind the scenes, but a badly-timed and untrue letter was sent to all the previous exhibitors stating that the event was cancelled. However, this was sent after the new committee had sent out entry forms for 2018 and caused a lot of confusion. The Rally & Country Fayre had ceased to function, that part is true, but the Transport Rally had taken its place, and should not have suffered the false rumour of cancellation. Most of the usual trade stands had rebooked, but one or two were in different places due to a re-organisation of the field.
The main ring had moved north-west closer to the steam line, and the classic cars were squeezed in between the trade stands and the miniature steam. Tractors and military vehicles shared the space between the central roadway and the side of the ring. Stationary engines were in their usual place, as were the commercial vehicles, excluding buses. However, both these sections were down in numbers, with nearly a third of the stationary-engines' allocated space unused.
Stirland's and company turned up on Saturday evening to bulk out the sparse commercials with three lorries, two living vans and a tractor. Classic campers faced the commercials. Our own section, the collections in awnings, then ran from the roadway across to the craft end of the marquee in three rows, and comprised of mainly models, several wartime memorabilia sets and several different types of bygones, including cast-iron seats and signs, bottles, petroliana and my favourite, a collection of toy petrol garages.
The motorcycles attempted to fill the big gap between the awning displays, catering and Northamptonshire Film Archive tent. Those guys got into the spirit of the name change and although I didn't see any of Saturday's shows, nor Sunday because of the rain, Monday's hourly offering was transport-themed with a couple of American promotional films and a superb film of a vintage Rolls Royce & Bentley gathering at Goodwood in the mid-1960s.
Some of the attractions usually present, such as Galloping Acrobatics or Cumberland Giants in the main ring, Viking Re-enactment group, Owls or Birds of Prey stand, threshing display, and country crafts such as pole lathes, dry-stone walling etc were absent, and this left a big gap at the end of the field where you went through into what used to be known as the countryside area. The model boat club still used the pond, and there was a local archery club, as well as the Midlands Bernese Carters all in this area, so perhaps this could be rebranded as the Club area. The Wot No Brakes Mini club were nearby but in the main field.
The RHTS crew were also missing, as their club had a Cider & Sausage Festival on at the Station. It was noticeable that the Real Ale bar at Earls Barton was much reduced in the number of options, but what was on offer was of good quality and perhaps much better-known mainstream brewers. However, given the weather on Sunday, perhaps it was not a bad thing financially that expenses had been kept in check. The brass-effect flat plaque, although much different to the cast brass water-wheel plaque of the old event, was still appreciated as a thank-you for coming.