Brilliant Abbey Hill Steam Rally report

Posted by Chris Graham on 20th July 2022

Joseph Lewis reports from the 2022 Abbey Hill Steam Rally, back at the Yeovil Showground, in Somerset, after a two-year absence.

Abbey Hill Steam Rally

Abbey Hill Steam Rally: Under new ownership is 1924 Burrell showman’s engine No. 3979 Earl Haig that now lives in Cornwall with Terry Sleeman. (Pic: Joseph Lewis)

Significant interest was found in the steam, tractor and commercial vehicle sections. Making its ‘official’ debut was 1914 Aveling & Porter YLD 6hp compound road locomotive No. 8471, AF 4478 Clyde. It spent the whole of the First World War hauling three road wagons, three times a day from the horse lines at Aldershot to Hale, loaded with stable manure. Circa 1920, it is believed that it hauled loads of bricks twice a week from Oxfordshire for the building of old Basingstoke. 

Abbey Hill Steam Rally

Looking splendid, 1914 Aveling & Porter Clyde owned by Caroline and John Lambert is seen pulling Dave Allen’s 1910 Burrell No. 3197 crane engine Old Tim. (Pic: Joseph Lewis)

After that, the engine went to Cornwall and received the AF 4478 registration. The engine was then unheard of until 1960 when it was found in the engine collection housed at Alton Towers, Staffordshire owned by the Bamford family. 

After stays in Yorkshire, the Gillingham area of Dorset and Hampshire it was purchased by heating engineer Bob Hyett from the Thames Valley in April 1987. After Bob was taken early the engine passed to his son and back to Dorset owned by Caroline and John Lambert at Bridport Foundry. They have given the engine a full rebuild over the course of three years. It is the only known roadworthy example of the YLD type in this country and looked superb at the show. 

Abbey Hill Steam Rally

Burrell No. 3798 Red Gauntlet looking as never before, now with Nick Baker. (Pic: Joseph Lewis)

Making its debut in new ownership was the 1924 Burrell 6hp showman’s road locomotive No. 3979 Earl Haig belonging to Terry Sleeman, from Cornwall. It was built as a road locomotive and sold to W J Taylor & Sons, Midsomer Norton, Somerset and reputed to have been used as a dredging engine. In May 1924 the engine was sold to Mrs Symonds of Gloucester who converted her to showman’s specification and was used by her youngest son, Edward, until 1943, when it was sold to Fred Darby & Sons of Ely who used her for a little while on threshing duties. In 1963 she was purchased and restored from a derelict wreck by Stan Burgess of Haddenham, Cambridgeshire, and is well-known on the rally circuit. 

Abbey Hill Steam Rally

1919 Burrell DCC traction engine No. 3798 was supplied new on February 5th, 1919 to GH Kingdon of Umberleigh, Devon who kept the engine for 30 years. (Pic: Joseph Lewis)

The third engine of interest and in new ownership was 1919 Burrell 6hp DCC general purpose engine No. 3798, TA 369 Red Gauntlet. This was supplied new on February 5, 1919 to GH Kingdon of Umberleigh, Devon, who kept the engine for 30 years. The Burrell passed through various owners including CTJ Nichols and was called Norah in the ’60s. In the late 1980s the engine was made to look like a road locomotive by Michael Lugg with a disc flywheel and other modifications. A new smokebox and tubeplate were also fitted. In 1995 the engine changed hands again and a new firebox was fitted. 

Abbey Hill Steam Rally

1927 Burrell A class No.4060 Pride of Newquay owned by James Gang of Cornwall. (Pic: Joseph Lewis)

On being acquired in 2012 by David Glanville of Liskeard, the restoration was completed with a new tender, back axle, drive gears and the rear wheels were re-built and new tyres fitted all-round and the motion work overhauled. Red Gauntlet was moving under its own steam in April 2019 for the first time in 37 years and was purchased by current owner Nick Baker in June 2021. It looked superb as it paraded and was pleasing to see back to its former glory.

Sentinel S4 No. 9032 leaving the arena after the steam parade, an engine that previously has completed a run from John O’Groats to Land’s End. (Pic: Paul Ritchie)

Other delights at Abbey Hill included about 260 tractors, and possibly the oldest was a 1926 John Deere un-styled D LTC900 owned by Lee Curtis. The D was the first John Deere to carry its own design and was made until 1953.

Dave Swaffield’s Aveling & Porter type D compound roller in working clothes. (Pic: Paul Ritchie)

Commercials included 1927 Dennis 30HW 30cwt PX7107 owned by Gary Skinner. This Dennis marked an important milestone in the haulage destiny of Hill Transport of Botley Garage at Hilsea, Portsmouth. The Dennis’ first regular driver was expected to handle the ex-railway 17-gallon milk churns then in use, collected from the Swanmore, Bishops Waltham and Droxford areas. Once the milk round was done, the Dennis was used for other jobs on farms, which included hay and straw to the Pickfords and Carter Paterson stables near the LSWR Portsmouth railway station. 

Brian Whitlock and his fine Ferguson TE-A 20 with Ferguson seven-tine cultivator. (Pic: Joseph Lewis)

A leading south-west member of the Ferguson Club, Brian Whitlock, a well-regarded local Ferguson tractor restorer, exhibited his 1951 Ferguson TE-A 20 converted for use in the hop fields of Kent by Lenfield Engineering, Maidstone together with a finely restored seven-tine Ferguson tiller.

This 1940 Marshall Model M was purchased by the late Wally Balsdon in approximately 1970 and came back into the family’s ownership in 2020.


1941 Bedford OXC artic in civilian livery, owned by Tom Jarrett. (Pic: Joseph Lewis)

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



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