Circumstances forced me out of work a good hour ahead of normal leaving time to set off for the 32nd annual Lincolnshire Steam & Vintage Rally, which was a good thing as the A17 was at its slowest, barely moving more than 35mph from Fleet Hargate all the way up to and beyond Swineshead towards Heckington. Those delays must have added 20 minutes onto our journey but helped us in the end, because as we drove up through Lincoln's Cathedral Quarter the heavens opened and monsoon rains arrived. However, 10 minutes later we arrived on the showground in sunny conditions, and managed to get pitched and erect the awning before the back edge of the storm came through again with another heavy rain-storm.
As predicted there were one or two new faces in the Bygones section and just one big empty space this year, where the large petrol-can collection usually stands. We were pitched in our usual position with our backs to the wood-sawing and fairground, where the Wall of Death was again not present, presumably at Dorset in readiness for the following week's Great Dorset Steam Fair. Trade stands and stalls so cost quite a bit to stand at Lincoln, and yet again, it was noticeable that there were quite a few gaps, but it's not obvious whether this is due to non-attendance of a pre-booked pitch or just regular pitches not being re-booked.
I stepped in early to secure a Pyramid-branded waterproof bag which was destined to hold lounger cushions but after getting it home realised it was an ideal size to hold both our new awning carpet and folding tables, so at £5 each, kicked myself for not taking the option of 2 for £9. Having now searched on-line, I realise they were liquidation stock as the manufacturer appears to be no longer in business, so are unlikely to be able to get another. Enough of the personal stuff and back to the rally. The two-part fire-engine displays are very diverse, with a varied display from the RAF Museum of Firefighting at nearby Scampton and a very varied display of other "Civilian" appliances on another part of the site.
This latter display grew this year to around a dozen vehicles with some very nice Leyland Cub limousine-style appliances on show. The nearby commercial section did not extend as far down the roadway as in previous years, with more room set aside for camping, but this did mean there were more organised rows of vehicles towards the eastern edge of the site, which made the display much more compact and intense if that makes sense. It was good to see a pair of well-presented Scammell Routeman lorries with the Michellotti-designed "cheese-grater" cab, one of my favourite lorry types alongside the Foden S21, both complex styles created using fibreglass.
Full-size steam was captured relatively early on Saturday and many had not moved far if at all from their low-loaders, no doubt in view of the recent rain, and indeed maybe under instructions not to move. Accordingly, several were still on their low-loaders and many had not turned around to present their face to the public. On a plus note, the steam engine low-loader area continues to give us a selection of older semi-preserved tractor units which may enter full preservation in due course.
On my infrequent visits back to the caravan I tended to get caught by friends, who are always welcome, but time spent chatting and reminiscing meant I didn't get back up to that end of the field again on Saturday, so the car selection is mostly from Sunday. The military vehicle section was in resurgence this year with several heavy-weight offerings, including a full-size Sherman tank and a Stuart armoured vehicle on a Rogers trailer behind a Diamond T 981 tank transporter, and also a 2nd Diamond T as well. With Morris Quad towing its gun and limber, and a few other heavies such as the Mack, GMCs, Reo etc, medium-sized Bedford RLs as well as the smaller Jeeps and Landrovers, this was the best military vehicle display for some years, imo.
Stationary engines and motorcycles are always present in numbers, and generally of very good quality, with the engines always throwing up some unusual marques. Tractors are never disappointing quality of what's on show, but how I wish there were more veterans but again site usage conditions and incompatibility of a nice lawned showground with spud wheels or tracks may be a factor here as well. Horticultural were photographed as they were starting to parade but time constraints meant I had to shoot what I could at the time.
This year, I was able to spend a bit more time around the miniature steam, and there are some lovely works of modellers art on show. It's not all steam either as there are several scale lorries, and my favourite of the weekend was the Foden DG with its 4-in-line low-loader trailer, a proper big boy's toy. However, the model exhibition hall did seem to be a little bit "samey" year-on-year, although the quality of exhibits is always excellent, but you do have to have something exceptional to break in as a new exhibitor and this shows. One couldn't really get close to the radio-controlled lorry arena due to it constantly being surrounded by interested visitors, so just one poor-quality snatched shot of this area this year.
One section I did think was down on numbers was the fairground organs, with not quite as many big organs as I remember. However, that said, there is still a very good selection and in most areas of the showground, you're not often long out of earshot of a traditional tune. With fine weather, I did venture up to the fair and the beer tent to take some night-time pictures and the turnout of campers and exhibitors was huge. All-in-all, still one of my cannot-miss events but we did seem to get the balance right this year, with more time spent socialising without missing out on any particular section.