An overcast day on Saturday 19th April did little to dampen the spirits of over 100 Steam Apprentices at the 10th such event organised by the Society. Held over a weekend at Old Warden Park, there was a good selection of member’s engines of all shapes and sizes for the young apprentices to try their hand.
BSEPS still host the largest steam apprentice event in the country and the children came from both far and wide for the experience.
Society member Ian Baxter-Pownall provided lunch; jacket potatoes, sausages, beans, cheese etc.
Once again, Nick Allen organised a driving course. Nick was actually seen having a go this year, proving it was possible to complete. Apparently, there was only the one completely squashed cone by the end of the day.
The apprentices ages ranged from 5 to 21 years, and even the smallest apprentices were driving the showman’s engine around, some at their arms reach! On Saturday afternoon, all the engines and apprentices lined up for a group photo, before a presentation of certificates of participation. Afterwards the Mamods came out for a run-around, but by now under heavy drizzle.
During Saturday evening, Doctor Busker entertained in his usual way in the marquee, giving the engine crews, helpers and families the chance to relax after a long day.
There was heavy rain during Saturday night, but still fires were lit early and shovel cooked breakfasts were quickly consumed. The heavy nighttime rain had waterlogged the field, so it was considered too wet for any driving activities. There were engines still on the field and these had to make their way to the roadway. Steve Ward made a dash with his roller to the sound of cheers from the apprentices as he reached the road, shortly followed by Paul and Ian Vickery’s similar engine. Burrell Showman’s engines The Ex-Mayor and Margaret made it to the road, where they set up to winch some of the other engines off the field. While this was going on, the apprentices stood patiently behind a rope and did as they were asked, while witnessing something they wouldn’t usually get to see at events.
With all the engines back to the roadway, the weekend’s activities ended just before lunchtime and lots of cold and wet children and families made their way home.