We report from one of the last steam and classic vehicle gatherings of 2021 in West Sussex which was enjoyed by all, despite the weather!
Despite many Boxing Day events being cancelled, due to the pandemic, a number of traditional events did take place across the country, even though the weather forecast wasn’t good.
The largest steam and vehicle gathering took place at The Red Lyon, in Slidford, near Horsham, West Sussex. It saw Chris Cook debut his mighty 1901 Fowler B5 No. 8726 road locomotive, which he ‘roaded’ from his base near Crawley despite the poor weather conditions.
The event, as usual, was well supported by the Searle clan, members of which were seen with the 1920 Burrell 6hp No. 3829 crane engine Her Majesty, the 1920 Burrell 6hp No. 3847 showman’s Princess Marina, the 1901 Fowler B5 No. 8920 crane engine The Great North and the 1923 Foden No. 11340 4-ton steam bus, Puffing Billy.
They were joined by the Marsh’s 1928 Foden C type wagon No. 13196 London Pride and, a while after and arriving from the other direction, was the furthest-travelled attendee, the ex-South Africa, ex-Billy Trelor 1901 Fowler B5 No. 8726, Major Schofield RE with fine road wagon behind.
The B5 certainly made for a very impressive and imposing sight, and truly was great to see, especially given that the engine had only arrived with its new owners just a few days before Christmas. This engine was seen in South Africa decades ago, and then popped up for sale at the 1996 Great Dorset Steam Fair, in a rough state. Having changed hands more than once, it was then given a full rebuild, after which it was enjoyed occasionally by the then owner, Billy Trelor, who was based at Haltwhistle, in Northumberland.
The support cast featured a raft of vehicles from the J Bell & Sons fleet, including a superb, and rare to the UK, Bedford PC 10/12cwt Ute in immaculate condition. This vehicle was assembled in Australia, of course, with parts that were shipped out from Luton, in Bedfordshire.
Other delights taking part in the Boxing Day fun included the 1926, Northumberland-registered, Faulkner & Sons-lettered normal control Chevrolet R 20/25cwt, featuring the four-cylinder 21.7hp overhead-valve engine (advanced in its day), with three-speed transmission. It was followed by a very stylish, bright red 1954 Chevrolet 3100 pick-up. That year Chevrolet restyled the dashboard, gauges, curved screen and grille, and also included the larger, 3.9-litre engine, of course.
Among the interesting cars present were various American classics, including a Marilyn Monroe-style Ford Thunderbird, and a dark blue 1950 Austin A90 Atlantic four-seater convertible, powered by a 2.6-litre engine. Fortunately, the rain had stopped by the time the main players arrived, which resulted in a good crowd at The Red Lyon and even Father Christmas made a guest appearance.
It was also good to see Joe Dovey and his family obviously enjoying the event with their ex-Australian, ex-Joe Black, Foden traction engine, which is making good progress again. The event brought the curtain down on the truncated, 2021 season and, hopefully, we can all now start looking forward to more predictable times in 2022.
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