It is forty years since the Club was founded in 1978, and to celebrate this milestone a special version of our September running day was planned. The weekend was to include a road run for traction engines, various games, overnight camping, lots of playing with engines, all culminating in an Anniversary Supper on the Saturday evening.
Preparations for this event had been going on for many weeks with lots of effort being put in by the sub-committee as well as other members. I’m glad to say that their considerable efforts were truly worthwhile as this weekend proved to be one of the most successful and enjoyable events the club has ever embarked upon.
Friday afternoon saw a group of traction engines and wagons set off for the Saxon pub in the village. Everyone involved enjoyed their run and subsequent stop at the pub, although one engine developed a problem whilst there, which precluded it from carrying on. We hope this issue is remedied soon. The other participants returned to the track well before dark after enjoying a good run with their engines.
Saturday dawned bright and sunny with little breeze; perfect! Those who had camped overnight were up and about, with fires lit and engine cleaning begun. More members and engines started to arrive, and soon began to get ready for a day’s steaming.
Road steam was well represented. Roger had his delightful 6” Foden tractor and wagon in steam and chugging around. Models of this type of Foden are, like the full size, very rare indeed, and shows how the boiler and overtype engine could be adapted for various needs. A handsome engine that performs very well.
Terry Y was steaming his 6” Garrett 4CD tractor “Master Potter”, which is always a delight to see.
Steve had his 4” Foden “C” type wagon present and he appeared very relaxed whilst trundling around the site, enjoying his engine in the fine weather. The wagon’s flat bed also proves a very handy perch when it is parked, allowing people to stop and natter in comfort; ideal!
Terry B and daughter Jenny B had brought along their 4” Foster agricultural and 4” McLaren road loco. Both very well built engines, they were a great addition to the road steam contingent.
Geoff B was once again doing his best to wear-out his excellent 3” Burrell agricultural and road train, taking long circumnavigations of the field. Again this engine was beautifully turned-out and is a joy to see.
Chris’s 3” Minnie “Scallywag” was in steam, and I was able to have a close look at this engine. Built from his own patterns and castings, it shows what you can achieve when you put your mind to it. Apart from the high quality engineering that went into it, the engine also has other neatly fashioned features such as the Firehole and smokebox doors.
Peter G had his fine 1 ½” Burrell in steam and was exhibiting great skill in running this little engine.
Ray has his steam car running around and was giving rides to lucky passengers.
On the track we saw some of our “pod” of Sweet Peas. Andy had his 7 ¼” gauge version “Skylark” in steam and hauling passengers, with Peter E taking the controls for part of the afternoon.
Geoff E had his Darjeeling-inspired 5” gauge version “Sherpa” in steam, still looking superb in lined red livery.
Ken had his 5” gauge “Julie” running round, and I can say this engine goes very well, with plenty of power and a good, even exhaust beat.
Hugh came with his loco-boiled version and had a good time running around the track.
Kev had brought his 3 ½” gauge version “Violet” along, though it was not in steam. Built by life member the late Eric S it was felt that it should be present on the Club’s 40th birthday even if it was simply on display.
Paul B had his 5” Simplex in steam and we look forward to Paul having a good crack at the whip with this lovely engine soon.
Peter B had his stationary steam plant running for the afternoon, and very pleasant it looked too. This is another engine that was built by Eric S, and runs like a Swiss watch.
Jenny’s fiancé Sam had brought his 7 ¼” gauge “King of the Scarlets” for a run and enjoyed lap after lap of the track.
Ralph had his large petrol-hydraulic loco on the track which made for a very fine sight. In heavily modified and rebuilt form the loco looks splendid, and drives very nicely indeed. From the comfortable driving position you get the feel of driving a “real” engine, and there is always plenty of power available.
On the pond we had a small flotilla of boats. These included Geoff E’s graceful paddle steamer, Sam H’s little river cruiser, and Ralph’s impressive naval gun boat. The latter was patrolling or rather prowling the pond, making sure no pirates were present, whilst also keeping an eye out for the dreadful Kraken! Sadly the Kraken did claim a victim in the shape of Sam’s boat, but this was quickly rectified and his boat once again took to the water in style.
Games were available, including trying to burst water balloons with sticks over the heads of the passengers on the trains. This proved to have limited success, with the option of just throwing them proving far more effective! However I don’t think we’re in danger of having any of our members being called-up to the England cricket team anytime soon, such was the quality of throwing on display!
We were lucky to have 8nhp Burrell showman’s “Queen Mary” from the Burrell Museum come along to join the party. Resplendent in its weathered paintwork and shining brass work, this engine was generating lights into the night to the delight of those present.
Now we come to the catering department and I’m not sure that words can sufficiently convey the superb quality and excellent service to which we were treated. The small marquee housed the refreshments, with hot and cold drinks abundantly available all day, and this added to the relaxed atmosphere of the event. Members had supplied a splendid array of cakes for our early afternoon vittles’, and these were beautifully arranged and served by members and their wives. I confess to trying both bread puddings that were on offer and both were jolly good stuff!
Engine playing continued into the afternoon, although some members were busy getting ready for the evening supper. As I’ve already said, preparations for this supper had been going on for many weeks, and today was the day. The two large marquees were beautifully laid-out with tables and chairs, with table cloths and flower displays, candles and bunting. Such was the quality of this display it prompted some of those present to ask “Who’s getting married?!”, as it would be no surprise to see an arrangement of this high quality at any good wedding reception.
With some of those attending neatly wearing dinner suits, we were treated to our aperitif of Pimm’s served at our tables. The air of conviviality was punctuated by one of our generous servers inviting us all to go up for our plates. An orderly queue was formed and we collected our meal, served to us once again by some of the members and their wives in a very organised and cheerful fashion. Our splendid supper consisted of freshly baked potatoes, salads, cheeses, baked beans, quiches, cold meats and bread rolls. Carrying our plates back to the “dining tent” we then sat down to enjoy our food and the company of those around us. Some had brought wine to have with their dinner, and whilst other beverages were consumed, we were also lucky to have a barrel of Beeston Brewery’s “Worth The Wait” at our disposal. A very tasty brew this proved to be, and many enjoyed a pint or two! At this point I was annoyed that I was not staying overnight, as I would’ve liked to enjoyed a longer sampling session! Dessert of cup cakes with “40th” icing on, and fruit salad with cream came soon after, and all reported themselves completely satisfied and that the meal was excellent.
Speeches followed, with thanks being given to all those who had played a part to make this event a truly wonderful and memorable occasion, and one that will live in the Club’s memory for years to come. We acknowledged the absence of Club President Richard, who at this time was in hospital, and we all wished him a speedy recovery. Presentations were made, and then it was on to the intriguingly-titled “cabaret”. What followed was a real treat, with Mick W and Geoff E giving us their rendition of how the Battle of Trafalgar would’ve been fought today. With Mick playing Nelson, and Geoff playing Hardy, we were given a very humorous insight into the differences between now and 1805. Poor Nelson was becoming quite frustrated at the encroachment of Health and Safety into the Navy, with such surprises as the crow’s nest being out of bounds as it is too high, the rum ration being abolished, and sails cannot be set unless the crew are wearing harnesses, full body protection and hard hats! However, Nelson did have a crumb of comfort when he discovered that at least one activity was still alive and well in the British Navy! A brilliant performance by these two members, and we hope to see them perform together again, so keep an eye out for them at your local Panto at Christmas!
After this most enjoyable dinner, the clear-up commenced, and dirty plates and platters were being boxed-up ready for washing up. Once again we are all so grateful to those who attended to this task.
With some members heading home, some members settled down to an evening basking in to the glow of the showman’s engine, having had an absolutely wonderful day. The clear up continued the following day. I just hope that barrel of beer was found to be well and truly empty by the morning!
Our thanks go to the generosity and dedication of those members and wives who made this event happen, and ensured that we celebrated the Club’s 40th birthday in most the memorable style.
A piece by our own Kevin B, thanks Kevin, glad that all the hassle and hard work turned out so well.