Paul Ritchie reports on a two-day steam-up in Dorset which was a welcomed return to something like normality following lockdown.
While 2020 will certainly be remembered for all manner of reasons, the loss of all the summer rallies and shows was a big one as far as those in the steam preservation movement are concerned. However, the reopening of pubs after the initial lockdown spawned a wealth of pub runs, as engine owners took the opportunity to steam-up and head for the roads,
In North Dorset, several engine owners assembled around the villages of Stourpaine and Shillingstone over the weekend of July 11th-12th for a ‘steam and social’, plus a much-needed get-together.
Starting from their relevant stables in nearby owners’ yards, the engines’ first stop was at The White Horse, at Stourpaine. The pub usually organises a steam-up weekend early in the season, but the lockdown prevented it this year, so the landlord was delighted to welcome the engines and crews, albeit a little later than normal.
This event is organised with the help of the Farwell family, with father and son – Mark and Matt – both having their engines out for this run.
Mark was in charge of his 7nhp Fowler general purpose engine No. 11814 Berkshire Tariff Queen; an engine built in 1909. It was named in celebration of a government tariff imposed on imported agricultural produce – the saviour of many farms. In its later life, it worked on Burbage Wharf on the Kennet & Avon Canal then, in the 1970s, Geoff Fincham of Shillingstone restored it from a derelict state.
Matt was crewing his 7nhp Marshall road locomotive No. 68632 Ben Lomond. Built in 1915, this engine is thought to be one of only three three-speed Marshall 7nhp engines in UK preservation. Matt has completed a full restoration of the engine.
Leaving The White Horse, the engines made their way through the Dorset countryside on the Saturday afternoon, to The Ox in Shillingstone, for further thirst-quenching, and a chance to sample the pub’s renowned, homemade pizzas. After that it was off to a local yard belonging to the Antell family, for the rest of the evening.
The Antell family has a long history of transport and engine ownership, and the preservation movement has a lot to thank them for. Paul Antell’s Robey general purpose engine No.29333 Wally, usually seen in the wood-sawing section at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, has been completely restored by him after standing derelict since 1969. The engine was in Tom Antell’s control for the weekend.
Meanwhile, John Antell enjoyed steaming up his mighty 14nhp Fowler ploughing engine No.13482 Fearnought. With its double-pin back wheels, two-speed ploughing gear and 800yd drum, it must have made an impressive sight working the farmland of Essex where it started its working life.
Sunday saw a reverse of the Saturday programme, with the engines heading back to their respective yards after a successful and enjoyable two days which, rest assured, will be the first of many pub runs that these lads will enjoy this year.
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