Bedfordshire Steam & Country Fayre 2009

Rally Report by Clive Flack

Not content to provide visitors to our rally with a Special Crane Display bringing together for the first time the only 11 surviving Steam Crane Engines in the country along with more modem examples of cranes which replaced them, the Society also provided the spectacle in the arena, of converting Jonathan Vickery's 1907 Aveling & Porter 4 nhp Convertible Steam Tractor 6319 from Tractor form to Roller on Saturday and back into Tractor form on Sunday! This was the first time this has been attempted as part of the ring events. This event was the 51 sl Rally to be organised by the Society and the largest event in terms of engine attendance with no less than 144 examples of all types on display, it was hardly surprising that the attendance was up!

The Special Crane display, made possible with help from NMT Crane Hire Ltd, was breathtaking, when on both days in keeping with tradition a unique photo opportunity was provided to photograph all 11 engines in front of Shuttleworth House. Talking to Richard Scourfield after the photo opportunity, Richard confided in me that this event was a great spur to pushing along with the restoration in order to attend. Richard, from Pembrokeshire, was present with the family owned Burrell Crane Engine 'Joe Chamberlain', 'Joe' is a 6nhp Road Locomotive built in 1909, given the works number 3166 she was supplied new to Timber Merchants E.J. Barnes of Swindon and fitted with a 5 ton crane. By 1947 she had been converted to a petrol engine which possibly secured her future! Then passing into the hands of Swindon scrap merchant Edwards who used her in their yard. After being sold on and passing through several hands all that remained of 3166 was a very distressed smokebox, the crane brackets, the flywheel crane drive gears and her providence! The family were fortunate enough to manage to trace and purchase the original crankshaft and perch bracket. All the rest of the engine has been made up of new castings and fabrications and lots of time and hard work! Hard work was indeed the word to describe the efforts of all the exhibitors in this section making this unique first possible.

Creating lots of interest were the derelict remains of the only known surviving Clayton & Shuttleworth 7nhp Heavy Traction Engine No 45333. Built in 1912 and fitted with a crane she is believed to have been held in stock until 1914 when sold to Northern Uruguay. Little history is known other than eventually being converted to a semi portable engine. With assistance from the B.S.E.P.S. over 87 drawings of the engine have been found which allowed the identification process to be narrowed down. Originally repatriated 6 years ago the engine has passed through two owners before being purchased by the Scourfield family who intend to rebuild her to her former glory.

Len Crane was present with his pride and joy 1928 Fowler 10nhp B6 Super Lion Crane Engine 17212 'Wolverhampton Wanderer'. Len and Jane were also fortunate in appearing in the Rally programme as entry numbers 24 and 25 respectively! I was delighted to see Robert Crawford's 5nhp Burrell 'The Lark' in the line up. My first recollections of this well proportioned engine are at events in Lincolnshire in the early 1970's. We were fortunate to find R. Bicknell's 1920 Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies 6nhp Crane Engine 31086 'Hooky' parked at the end of the day opposite our caravan giving us plenty of opportunity to study and photograph this interesting engine.

As usual at Old Warden Scottish preservationists were well represented. Ex-Coupland Aveling & Porter KT 7nhp 'Wizard' was in attendance for the second year running the difference being the paintwork now beautifully 'Lined Out'. Owned by G. Scott the most Northerly BSEPS member is Sentinel DG6T 8 ton Steam Waggon of 1930 No. 8351, new to William Tawse Ltd, Aberdeen this very original example is finished in the livery of later owners the Aberdeen Harbour Board who purchased her to haul stone for the construction of breakwaters and defence work.

Present for the first time was 1929 Sentinel DG6 8 ton Steam Waggon 7966 'Nippy' supplied new to J. Lyons & Co, Cadby Hall, Hammersmith, London, her remains were saved for preservation in the 1960's by Edgar Shone of Mill Hill, London. I can remember seeing the chassis and body of 7966 around 1975 in Edgar's yard at the back of the Crown Public House in Cricklewood. My employers at that time were none other Lyons Catering Supplies Ltd of Cadby Hall and I spent considerable time unsuccessfully trying to persuade the directors of 1. Lyons & Co to sponsor or become involved in the preservation of the remains! Indeed, the Sentinel attendance was so large you might have thought the rally was a 'Sentinel Special' as well, It is not very often you get the chance to see two Sentinel DG6's on the same rally field. Also present from Scotland were Gary Thomson and Michael Anderson with William Nicol's immaculate Ex-Vince Allen 1928 Foden C type Tractor 13156 'Merlin' .

Fowler Road Locomotives were well represented by 1911 Fowler B6 10nhp 12226 'Titan' and the 6nhp 1902 Fowler A4 9279 beautifully turned out in the livery of previous owner the renowned N.E. Box. Parked amongst the Traction Engines and dwarfing all around was Tony Warwick's 1911 McLaren 10nhp Road Locomotive 'Gigantic' 1332, repatriated from Australia where she was recovered from a river bed. Working in the wood sawing area was D. Knott's 1920 6 nhp Aveling & Porter AC6 DCC TE No 9096, supplied new in Cornwall eventually passing to Dingle Contractors of Stoke Climsland, passing into preservation in 1963.

Video courtesy of Richard Hobbs -
more photos from of the rally taken by Richard can be viewed here

The Steam Ploughing demonstration was provided by two 12 nhp pairs of Fowler K7's. John Mann's 1916 14258 'Sevington' being joined by her sister engine 14257 'Linkey' owned by A & M Jones. At the Old Warden end of the field were to be found John Saunders with the Saunders Collection 1915 Fowler K7's 14247/8 'Sunrise' and 'Sunset' New in Bedfordshire and eventually purchased by the Case brothers in the early 1970's. Purchased by the present owners the pair were re-boilered and with much other mechanical work restored to their present condition. Showman's Engines were well represented on this occasion by the unique Ex- Tuby Burrell 10 nhp Special Scenic appearing complete with its Burrell-designed scenic car lifting crane. A highlight on Sunday was when Vintage Spirit Deputy Editor, John Reeves, arranged to photograph sister Burrell Showman's Engines 3890 'Majestic' and 3910 'Wait and See'. In a pose resembling the scene on September 10th 1955 when the two derelict engines were photographed standing together at the Griffin Foundry. Also re-united for the first time were Ex- W. Coles & Sons of Bristol Garrett Showman's Tractors 33486 'Queen of Great Britain' and 33566 'Little Billy'. Both engines were supplied new to Browning Bros of Stonehouse, Glos., and were purchased by Coles in 1920 when they were converted to showman's tractors and named after Mr Cole's grandsons, at that time 33486 carried the name 'Little Jim' both engines stayed with the Cole's family until 1972.

Fair Organs were well represented by examples from Verbeeck, Gavioli, Mortier, Razenberg, Marenghi, Andrreas Ruth, Gebroeders, Elbert Pluer and Page and Howard.

The highlight of the weekend for myself and 9 year old Steam Apprentice son, Richie, was when with the kind permission of NMT Cranes owner Mark Ambridge, who with assistance from Alan Goodger offered to lift us 30 metres above the Park to record the event. Many thanks to the BSEPS committee and safety team who allowed and stewarded movement of the Crane to the opposite side of the Park.