River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Steam Rallies

September 2001

A report from the Weeting show

Did you go to the Weeting Show? If you didn't and you like the nostalgia of steam then you missed a treat. There is something quite unique about the smell that one gets with steam power, a mixture of steam and burning coal smoke, with a trace of oil thrown in. A smell that brings memories flooding back for some of us. We were told that there were no fewer than 98 steam powered vehicles there, mainly traction engines but with a few road rollers and steam lorries. Certainly that is far more than I have ever seen before gathered together on one site and must make it one of the biggest events of its kind in the Country. Apart from the main attraction of steam, there were some interesting demonstrations of past farming methods, and there were vintage/classic cars, tractors, lorries, bikes and stationary engines. There were some fantastic models also, each representing countless hours of work. Apart from the vehicles and engines there was a large 'craft' tent, a variety of stalls, refreshment tents, and a fun fair. The weather was perfect for the three days of the show and it made a good day out for everyone.

For me, being a kind of car 'nut', there were too few cars and bikes, but there was a group of four RME Rileys from the 1950's, two two and a halfs and two one and a halfs (litres, that is). This was interesting for me since we had a two and a half back in those days. I went to talk to one of the proud owners sitting in his car and, to my surprise, he turned out to be an American. It seemed that his only reason for owning an old Riley was that he liked them, which was fair enough I suppose.

To be critical for a moment, the show occupied a very large area and was neither well laid out nor well signposted, which meant that one could have difficulty finding particular exhibits and do a lot of unnecessary walking - and that was no fun for anyone with problems walking, especially on such a hot day. The entrance fee, it was £10 for the two of us, seemed excessive.

There was another somewhat smaller but similar affair on the last weekend in July at Walpole St Andrew. There were far fewer steam units, but more than enough to generate the smoke and smell, and I think there were more cars and commercial vehicles. The show ground was more compact and, for me at least, it was no less enjoyable than the Weeting show. The entrance fee for us of just £1 each was the exact opposite of Weeting, the objective of this show was to raise money for charity and we would have been quite happy if the fee had been doubled.

Either way, if you like that sort of event, then watch out for them next year.

Ron Watts

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