Hadlow Down Traction Engine & Historic Vehicle Rally

Posted by Chris Graham on 7th August 2023

Patrick Boniface reports from this year’s very successful Hadlow Down Traction Engine & Historic Vehicle Rally.

Hadlow Down

Hadlow Down Traction Engine & Historic Vehicle Rally: Fowler AA7 ploughing engine Sandringham, from the Claude Jossett Trust.

Cancer Research UK was the main beneficiary of a wonderful weekend of steam engines at Tinkers Park in East Sussex, for the 57th Hadlow Down Traction Engine and Historic Vehicle Rally. The charity has been at the heart of this event for many years and visitors and exhibitors have achieved the astonishing total of in excess of a quarter of a million pounds so far. 

Hadlow Down

Two of the Claude Jessett Trust buses, the 1956 AEC Regent 5 VKR 470 and the ex-London Transport 1950 AEC Regent 3 double-decker KYY 653 alongside Peter Haining’s 1962 AEC Routemaster that served on the Green Line, originally with London Transport.

This year’s event was blessed with fine weather that attracted thousands of visitors to see the behemoths of steam together with those from vintage road transport. This year’s event presented a fascinating range of vehicles, including the beautifully-displayed 1940 Bristol K5G open-top bus. This was built with a Gardner engine and ECW bodywork, and was delivered new to the Brighton Hove & District Bus Company, but with a fixed roof as a double-deck vehicle. After the war in 1952, she was converted to serve as an open-top bus and used on service 17 Rottingdean to Portslade during the summer months.

Hadlow Down

One of the more unusual exhibits was this 1900 American Locomobile Surrey Steam Car.

Much of the restoration work on the vehicle was carried out by Howard Butler before the bus was donated to the Claude Jessett Trust whose volunteers continue to restore her. Another vehicle attracting plenty of attention was the bright green Euclid 924 road scraper. One of the most unusual vehicles on display was a 1900 Locomobile Surrey steam car that was entered by Ruth Atkinson of Billericay, Essex. 

Hadlow Down

Removed from service in 1982, this Bedford TK 4.9-litre fire engine was built by HCB Angus in 1967 for the East Sussex Fire Brigade, and spent much of its service life in Crowborough.

The stars of the show, however, were always the steam traction engines the trust is famous for preserving. Among them was Sandringham, a 1919 Fowler AA7 ploughing engine that was built using parts originally scheduled for delivery to Russia but, following the Russian Revolution of 1918, the parts were used in the United Kingdom instead. When new she was delivered to the Saffron Walden Steam Plough Company, before passing through several owners until, in 2010, the engine was donated to the Claude Jessett Trust. 

Morris Minor 1,098cc Foxy, built in 1972 and kept in a barn for several years and restored during lockdown by Gary Baker, from Brighton.


Scammell trucks were well represented at this year’s event.

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


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