We visit the brilliant Shillingstone Steam Rally

Posted by Chris Graham on 3rd August 2023

Joseph Lewis reports on the Three Okefords Preservation Society’s successful Shillingstone Steam Rally, held at Blandford, Dorset, in May.

Shillingstone Steam Rally

Shillingstone Steam Rally: A 1926 Lister R-type owned by Joe Phillips, from Sherborne. The tank currently has a 45-gallon capacity but, in factory use, this would have been 200 gallons – over four times the size!

There was around 30 steam engines – sponsored by Shaftesbury Steam Restoration – at this year’s Shillingstone Steam Rally, which took place on May 20th-21st in sunny Dorset. The engines on show included the 1934 Foster traction engine Little Gem, owned by Richard Pocock from Berwick St John, which is said to be the last traction engine ever to be sold new in this country. 

Shillingstone Steam Rally

Tim Moores, from Sturminster Newton, showed his 1917 Lister R-type, from the first batch manufactured. This R-type was used on a winch by the RAF to raise blimps or non-rigid airships.

Around 40 miniature steam entries – sponsored by Bridport Foundry Ltd – were also present, and featured a number of highlights. One example was a 6in Davey Paxman built by the owner William Dakin from Sandbach, Cheshire, over a 30-year period. This was scaled down from the owner’s full-size traction engine, and I understand Shillingstone was the first time out for this major project.

A notable, 1912 International Famous owned by R Hart from Bere Regis, here seen turning an 1890 Hathaway table-top butter churn that was made in Chippenham, Wiltshire. I understand the churn was sold with a cream separator pulley.

Another miniature was a poignantly-named road loco owned by Daniel Collett from Spetisbury, in Dorset. Stevie, named after the current owner’s late father, is a 4in Burrell single-crank compound road loco. It was originally built around 1991 by Ken Rogers of County Durham, from drawings and a mixture of bespoke and some John Rex castings. The engine was rallied regularly as far afield as Norway! It was later purchased by a family in Devon, where it was rallied for a few years at local shows, until its boiler failed inspection. 

Jacob Davis, from Yeovil, was exhibiting Phil Upshall’s 21hp Petter S-type. This was originally used for pumping water in the Welsh valleys, and has recently received a new fuel pick-up pipe.

The engine was then sold to a well-known steam engine broker, where a brand new John Rex, commercially-welded boiler was fitted in 2017. The engine then spent a little time in Ireland before being sold to a gentleman in Neath, Wales, in 2020, where it had a freshen-up to the paintwork. It was purchased by its current owner – Daniel Collett (Collett Agricultural Engineering) of Blandford, in Dorset – in mid-September, 2021, where its restoration to full show standard will continue. 

Smokey is an Aveling & Porter L Type steam tractor that was built in 1926 for Kent County Council, and converted to a roller in the 1930s. It spent the rest of its working life with Wingham Engineering Ltd, near Canterbury. Smokey was purchased by the current owners – Chris Gerrard and family from Christchurch, Dorset – in 1986, and the engine was converted back to a tractor between the early 1990s and 2010.

Following a recent boiler re-tubing in May 2023, a high-pressure Buffalo-type steam injector has been fitted, the ash-pan rebuilt, new machined crank bearings fitted and work continues on the paintwork and livery, to name just a few of the tasks undertaken. All the tireless cleaning and polishing is proudly done by Daniel’s steam-loving fiancée, Jacqueline Sym.

One of the stars of the steam section was Little Gem, a 1934 Foster traction engine owned by Richard Pocock, and said to be the last traction engine to be sold new in the United Kingdom.

Stationary engine stars at the rally included a 1926 Lister R-type owned by Joe Phillips, from Sherborne. Intriguingly, this R-type is mounted on a trailer which dates from around the time of the First World War.  The trailer was purchased by a previous owner from locally-based Adlam Trailers.

Making its debut in the miniature steam was the 6in Davey Paxman built by William Dakin from Sandbach, Cheshire. This was scaled down from William’s full-size Davey Paxman, and completed after 30 years under construction.

My thanks to Three Okefords Preservation Society chairman Mike Welch, and the committee.

Shillingstone Steam Rally

Stevie is a special 4in Burrell single-crank compound road loco owned by Daniel Collett from Blandford, and named after the current owner’s late father.


Shillingstone Steam Rally

Around 30 full-size steam engines and 40 miniature steam entries were exhibited at the Three Okefords Preservation Society’s Shillingstone Rally, all against the scenic surroundings which exhibitors and visitors evidently enjoy so much.

This report comes from the latest issue of Old Glory, and you can get a money-saving subscription to this magazine simply by clicking HERE


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