A Sunny weekend for the annual steam rally
Following on from a successful Saturday for the Tinkers park annual traction engine rally Sunday proved equally popular with the crowds and who enjoyed another day of hot sunshine. Once again the train rides and the traditional fairground proved popular family attractions and, with 48 steam road vehicles in attendance it was a very busy arena when it came to parade time.
As ever one of the most popular arena events was the ‘Width of Engine’ competition in which the combined skills of both engine driver and steers person are put to the test. The event calls for the crew to judge the width that will be needed for the engine to stop with its rear wheels between two red/white stripped poles. This has to be judged by the steers person who is standing on the footplate of the engine at the other end of the arena issuing hand signals to the person placing the poles. That person then gives the signal to start whereupon the driver opens the regulator and proceeds as fast as possible down the arena finishing with a controlled stop with the rear wheels as close to the poles either side as possible.
Knocking a pole over disqualifies the engine from the competition. The attempt is then scored by measuring, in inches, the distance between the rear wheels and the poles on each side and this is added to the number of seconds taken for the engine to travel down the course. Outright winner on the day was the Jessett trust’s own Burrell Gold Medal traction engine ‘The Tinker’, which achieved a remarkable combined score of 16 points!
Coming second was the little Wallis and Steevens Advance road roller belonging to Adrian Vaughan and his friend Jeff Bone. Adrian was busy organising things and so Jeff’s steersman was one of a small party of French tractor club members who had come over specially for the show. He had never steered, or even been on a steam engine, before so it was a credit to him that he steered a straight line and judged the width so accurately so as to result in a creditable score.
The French contingent was from Gournay-en-Bray, a town in Normandy that is twinned with Hailsham and had been visited earlier in the year by tractors from the Tinkers Park collection and the Chailey Vintage and Classic Tractor Club who had travelled to France under their own power for an event in Gourney put on by The ‘Club Passion de Tracteur.’ to which they belonged. They were given a warm welcome and drove into the arena on the tractors that had gone over to France. The party was dressed for the occasion in the traditional blue costume of Normandy farmers as worn at harvest time.