Over 137 full size steam exhibits attended the Society's 47th annual rally, as did a wide variety of other exhibits. The highlight of the show was the gathering of former John Crawley engines. John founded the Society in 1956 and has been our President for many years. He was on site over the weekend talking to the owners and crews of the 15 engine that took part in the display. John was also fortunate to meet up with many of his old crew and school friends who had come especially for the event. The engine lead the grand parade on both days to the theme music from "The Iron Maiden" film that several of the engines starred in, and to which John was the technical director. A marquee near the engines showed the history of each one along with archive photographs and some information on the film.
Several exhibits were making a first time visit to the event and were based in different areas of the vast site at Old Warden. One of the highlights for many was to see two Single Cylinder Ploughing engines together, No. 1368 "Margaret" belonging to Andrew Melrose in Somerset and No. 1642 owned by Michael Beeby, both having worked commercially for the Beeby family. These were joined by McLaren "Avis" which was one of the former John Crawley engines, and John Mann's Fowler "Sevington". In the road making display Christopher Case exhibited his 1942 Marshall Portable on its first outing in many years, and ran the Society's Marsden Stone Crusher 22 years senior of the engine!
Standing along side the Old Glory stand was a new build Foster Wellington Tractor, which the Great Northern Steam Company were building as a commercial project using patterns from David Ragsdale. The same David Ragsdale that bought along his Burrell Showman's "Princess of Wales" for the first time. Another first timer was the Aveling & Porter Showman's Tractor "Princess Victoria" up from Yeovil. On the Saturday evening Fowler B6 Showman's Road Locomotive "Valiant" was once again to be found with the ex Pat Collins Marenghi Fair Organ "Wonderland" and was joined by a second former Pat Collins engine, Burrell Scenic Showman's "No.1", another of the Crawley display.
An engine returning to the area after a long absence was Paul and Anne Blanch's Clayton & Shuttleworth "Valiant" from Norfolk, which attended early Society events in the ownership of Albert Deans of Baldock. Other engines back after a break of a few years were Richard Hazell's Wallis & Steevens "Duke of Wellington" formally owned by Teddy Reed, and the Burrell "Crimson Lady" in the ownership of Mark and Roger Fensom, a credit to the late George Fensom as she looked every bit a royal show engine after restoration work by David and Paul Harrower. Len Crane bought along his Fowler Crane Engine "Wolverhampton Wanderer" and his fair organ Also attending for the first time was McLaren Road Locomotive "Captain Scott". Rob Tyler steamed his Fowler T3 Tractor "Mr. Blower" which is nearing the end of a major restoration and Mick George and crew bought one of the few surviving Armstrong Whitworth rollers, No. 10 R2. Joe and Danny Dovey bought their Foden wagon in Horrell's livery and Barry Weatherhead had a change bringing his Standard Sentinel in its distinctive yellow livery. Mick Simmonds showed his Super Sentinel, which was new to Henry Franklin of Biggleswade as promised in the last magazine. Richard Hazell and crews displayed three S Type Sentinels, being 4, 6 and 8 wheelers, all built in 1934 and in the same livery, quite a sight. Two Stanley Steam Cars made their first visit to Old Warden with Stuart Gray's Model 60 Tourer of 1910 making its first appearance at any event after an extensive restoration, and Bernard Green's 740 Model of 1925 which has also undergone extensive restoration since returning from across the globe.
There was also a display from the Shelvoke & Drewery Enthusiasts Club. They had gathered together 8 vehicles built in nearby Letchworth including the dustcart that featured on Channel 4's "Salvage Squad" Programme. A highlight in the miniature section was the 4" Foster Hornsby track laying engine.
This year's show saw the return of a Society sales stand selling all items of clothing and some other bits and pieces. This also saw the launch of the new 50th Anniversary Polo Shirts and a chance to view the 3" Scale Marshall that is being raffled to celebrate the Anniversary next year. On display in the tent was the new cylinder and pattern for the Worbey Family's Garrett Wagon, No. 30826 of 1912.
It was an end of an era for Burrell Showman's No. 3949 "Princess Mary" which was on her last outing before being laid up for sometime. As ever Jimmer Marsh was at the helm with regular crew Steve and Jason Brackstone and Leah Gmiterek. The engine worked hard in the fairground as it has at our event since 1999 only missing 2001 because of the foot and mouth crisis.
Saturday evening saw two possible road runs, one to the White Horse at Broom and one to the Crown at Northill. Eleven engines steamed to Broom along with a couple of vintage vehicles and miniatures; seven engines and four miniatures visited Northill.
Admission to the rally also included entry to the Shuttleworth Collection, Bird of Prey Centre and Swiss Garden, which were open on Friday for exhibitors to view. Evening entertainment in the bar was provided on Thursday by Colin Rickards, on Friday by "Off the Record" and Saturday by "Maxwell's Hammer". Daytime entertainment in the beer garden was steel band "Caribbean Sound" who were a huge hit with both exhibitors and the public alike catering for all ages.