Simon Colbeck reports on a great weekend of steam, tractors, beer tents and entertainment at the Whitwell Steam & Country Fair.
The Whitwell Steam & Country Fair (June 26th-27th) was, for many of the exhibitors, the first traditional rally for a very long time. It certainly felt like everyone was enjoying being back on a rally field, this being one of the few events to have survived on the calendar for this year.
The Whitwell Steam & Country Fair owes its origins to Nick Hill of Waterhall Farm, Whitwell, in Hertfordshire. In 1995, he built a barn to house his collection of vintage agricultural machinery. This included a corn dressing machine, rolling mill, chaff cutter and potato riddle, all of which were powered by stationary engines. Over the following years, Nick organised a number of get-togethers at Waterhall Farm to display the collection, together with other local agricultural bygones.
By 1998, the event had grown to become the first Whitwell Steam & Country Fair. Then, in 2008, it moved to Mansells Farm just outside Codicote, in Hertfordshire. This year the proceeds from the show went to the Garden House Hospice and Sue Ryder Foundation.
Over the years, the number of exhibits has grown with the show being particularly well-known for having a fine selection of tractors; this year there were nearly 140 listed in the programme.
A highlight of the steam exhibits was Paul and Ian Vickery’s recently-restored 7nhp Burrell single-cylinder traction engine. This was its first public outing following its renovation during lockdown. Now resplendent in traditional Burrell crimson livery, the engine was just ready in time for the show, with only some minor lining details on the wheels needed to complete this superb project.
Constructed in 1902, No. 2507 had spent many years on the Isle of Wight before returning to the mainland after being purchased by the Vickery family in 2019. During its lockdown restoration, Paul and Ian have taken the opportunity to give the engine a thorough mechanical overhaul, including fitting a new second shaft and final drive gear.
Always a delight to see on the rally field was Sandy Ross’s diminutive Aveling & Porter BN class, 4-ton roller. Constructed in 1912, No. 7385 – with its inside flywheel and narrow track – always looks a tad unstable, to my eyes!
In addition to an excellent collection of miniature traction engines, the show also boasted a 7¼-inch railway line. The portable line is owned and operated by the North London Society of Model Engineers, based at Colney Heath. Services were hauled by a freelance 0-6-0T with a marine-type boiler and a superb one-third scale model of a World War 1 Simplex Tin Turtle armoured petrol tractor.
With so many tractors on display, the arena tractor parade was superb, with a highlight being a demonstration of the remarkable turning capabilities of the exceedingly rare Doe 130 twin tractor of 1966.
The organisers are to be congratulated on putting on such a great show despite all the uncertainty of these difficult times. I look forward to another excellent show next year.
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