Home to the Claude Jessett Collection – Steam Traction Engines • Steam Rollers • Fair Organ Museum • The Great Bush Narrow Gauge Railway • Miniature Railway • Historic farming and construction equipment
The Lord Mayors show in city of London is one of the year’s major spectator events. With over 100 floats, marching bands and military exhibits featuring horse mounted cavalry it attracts large crowds along the route which passes many well-known London landmarks. Floats and displays by the ancient livery companies of the city are always a major part of the parade and one of these is entered by The Worshipful Company of Paviors whose task it was originally to keep the London streets and pavements clear of muck, and to round up any stray animals such as dogs and pigs.
On Saturday April 21st The trustees of the Collection at Tinkers park held a “Volunteers experience day” the aim of which was to enable the team of volunteers who had been working on various restoration and maintenance projects over the winter months to enjoy aday when they could try their hand at driving various vehicles and railway engines from parts of the collection that they are not normally associated with. This is partly just for fun, on a day when the park and its internal road system is not open to the public, but also to enable the various groups, that normally work on differing aspects of the collection, to gain experience of different types of vehicles and share in each others areas of interest.
About 40 volunteers took part on a fine and sunny day and the Trustees provided lunchtime refreshments. In the evening, a fish-and-chip supper was laid on, together with a film show at The New Inn when various films of early rallies and other events, involving volunteers in the days before the Trust was formed, were shown that includedsome amusing incidents which were enjoyed by all thosepresent.
Sunday April 22nd saw the annual East Grinstead bus running day taking place. This event, organised by ‘Country bus rallies.’is a very popular event as it gives members of the general public the opportunity of free bus rides from the East Grinstead town centre to nearby towns and villages.The Trust provided two buses from the collection, a 1950’s ex London Transport RT double decker (The classic London red bus) and a 1940’s open top bus from the fleet of Brighton Hove and District. This bus was supplied to Brighton at the start of WW2 in uncompleted form as the body buildershad already gone over to wartime production of military equipment. BH&D completed the work but the vehicle was unable to work on the seafront route, number 17, it was designed for as Brighton’s seafront was closed due to the invasion threat.
After the war the bus was fitted with a detachable roof, one of the first of its type ever to be built.With its new roof the bus could work over most routes, even in inclement winter weather.
The bus was donated to the Trust by an enthusiast who had started work on restoring it but was unable to continue and wanted it to go to a good home in its native home county.Trust volunteers have worked hard over the past 6 years to achieve a full restoration of the vehicle to its original appearance and work is still continuing.
The bus was very popular on the running day round-the-town service as it was a warm and sunny day. Many of the passengers had probably never travelled on an open top bus with an open platformbefore and so it was a novelty particularly enjoyed by the children. Many older folk also enjoyed a ride down memory lane.
As can be seen from the accompanying pictureslong queues formed to enjoy the novelty of riding “up on top”. The volunteer crews worked hard all day but were rewarded by grateful thanks and smiles form the passengers as they disembarked and over £75 was raised, by selling commemorative tea mugs,towards the restoration of the bus which still needs new upholstery on the lower deck. Much work also is needed to restore the old roof which, hopefully, will be in place next year enabling us to operate in all weathers without upstairs passengers getting rain soaked or blown away by the wind!
On Saturday 16th September the Park played host to fourteen children who were taking part in the National Traction Engine Trust’s South Eastern area Steam Apprentice day.The children’s ages ranged from 8 to 18.
To start their day they all had a ride on the ‘Apprentice Express’ which departed from platform 9 ¾of The Great Bush Railway promptly at 10:00am. They were then allocated to their different steam engines and crews for a full day’s activities.
To start with the young apprentices had to clean the smokebox, tubes and fireboxes of their respectivesteam rollers or traction engines. Then they were shown the correct way to light a fire after, which it was down to cleaning and oiling up whilst waiting for the engines to raise steam.
By this time the apprentices had started to look like real steam engine crew having transferred soot, oil and ash to theiroveralls and faces! Time out was taken to enjoy tea and cakes and then it was down to the serious business of learning how to steer and drive an engine.
Two things stood out to those watching the proceedings. The willingness of the participants to listen and learn, and the confidence and enthusiasm with which all approached the various tasks. It was also good to see the mix of ages and the fact that at least half of those taking part were girls, thus finally disposing of the myth that steam engines were merely ‘toys for the boys’!
A|t the end of the afternoon 14 tired, dirty, but very happy apprentices went home having learned a good deal, whilst having fun under the safe supervision of our engine owners.
Thanks must go to Claude Jessett Trust trustee Adrian Vaughan for organising the day and to volunteers from Tinkers Park and the Sussex Steam Engine Club for allowing use of their steam engines and for making it all happen .
The NTET steam Apprentice scheme is vital to ensure thatour steam and engineering inheritance is in safe hands for the future.
NOTE: if any attendees took nice pictures and would like to see them here. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org with a short description. Thanks.
On Saturday September 23rd Tinkers park threw its gates open to the public for the annual open day. The aim of the day was to show off the collection of steam engines, farm equipment and the Great Bush Railway to visitors in a friendly and informal way and to showcase the work the volunteers of the Claude Jessett Trust over the past 12 months.
The event attracted visitors of all ages, both local and from as far away as Suffolk, Cumbria and even Scotland, some of whom were on holiday in the area. Attractions included free rides on the steam railway and the ‘Green Goddess’ fire engine as well as the miniature railway and the ever popular traction engine trailer rides round the park. In addition there was a display of classic cars and commercial vehicles provided by two local vintage vehicle clubs.
A free bus service connecting both Buxted railway station and Uckfield bus station was provided by the trust’s own vintage buses, which included a 1940’s open top double decker.
There were displays of working steam engines and tractors showing timber saw-bench working and old-time road making. The latter featured demonstrations of a machine commonly known as a wacker, a lethal looking tool designed to compact the infillfollowing trench digging operations, which provided some amusement with volunteers trying their hand at squashing tin cans!
The organ museum was open and two of the trust’s fairground organs were also playing in the park. Popular exhibits in the exhibition hall were two larger scale model railways, one of which is owned by the trust and featured live steam locomotives. Light refreshments and local beer and cider were available and, with the sun shining for most of the day, visitors took advantage of our picnic tables to enjoya break whilst watching the activity gong on around them.
The following day saw around 20 steam engines set off from the park for the Sussex Steam Engine Club’s annual road run to Waldron. This has become a very popular event that also now attracts as good a selection of vintage cars, motorcycles and tractors as can be seen at at many a vintage rally.The Jessett trust entered four steam engines from the collection and, with a warm autumn sun still shining a great day was had by all.
The ex Brighton Hove and District open top bus owned by the Trust took part in the East Grinstead bus running day on April 30th. The bus is a Bristol K5G and was delivered to BH&D for use on the seafront service as an open topper in 1939 in an unfinished state, owing to the outbreak of war. It entered service in 1940 having been fitted out in the Holland Road works of the company. In the early 1950’s it was rebuilt as a convertible open top bus, with a removable roof, to enable it to be used on town services in the winter.
As a volunteer for The Claude Jessett trust I attended the Volunteers experience day on Saturday April 22nd. The idea of this day is to give volunteers a chance to experience driving or operating as many items in the collection as possible as well as a chance to socialise with other volunteers who may not be able to attend the regular volunteer evenings or weekends. As a volunteer you get the chance to work on any number of on-going projects. You may change your project as time goes on or you may stick to one particular area of interest, traction engines, tractors or railways for instance. The Volunteer experience day gives you the chance to see the overall picture of what is currently being worked on, as well as items in the collection that have already been restored but that you may not have had the chance to get acquainted with.
Over the Easter weekend the Bluebell Railway was host to a particularly famous locomotive, Number 4472 ‘Flying Scotsman’. Appearing in its BR guise and numbered 60103 the Bluebell advertised the event under the title “Flying Scotsman Flying South”. The Claude Jessett Trust was approached by the railway to provide two steam road engines to form part of the display in the loco’ yard at Sheffield Park. They particularly wanted a showmans engine so the 1913 Aveling and Porter ‘Southern Queen’ converted by Claude Jessett and Owen Mitchell in the 1960’s fitted the bill and it was backed up by the Tasker roller ‘Little Giant’ originally built as a light haulage tractor in 1909 and shown as such at the Royal show at Gloucester in that year although later converted to a steam roller.