Saturday, 23 April 2016

Statfold Barn Miniature Steam Rally 2016...

"Saturday Line-Up" (M.Ranieri)
Hi all. First of all..."WHAT A DAY!". Waking up in the Fowler living van to the dawn chorus this morning on site at Statfold Barn was the beginning of a massive day of running around the site doing various jobs, surrounded of course by countless steam engines of all shapes and sizes. At last, after months and months of planning, the Miniature Steam Rally was here and at just gone 6:30am...the day began! After dragging myself from the living van and stumbling across to the loco shed, I grabbed myself a most welcome hot cuppa' before preparing for the job in hand. Stands would be arriving this morning, as would a good twenty or so more engines and so we had to be on the ball. All around, the five SBR engines were slowly coming into steam as their various loco crew's prepared them on the shed frontage. I was soon presented with a radio and the Defender in readiness for leading in more bits and bobs. The opening time of 10:00am rolled around before we knew it and the public were soon arriving whilst the steam trains of the SBR began their days service. All systems were now go and the 72 miniatures in steam today soon found themselves exploring...
"Isibutu Meets Firefly and Co" (M.Ranieri)
In most cases in this picture-heavy post, I'm going to let the images do the talking as they provide you with a clearer picture of what was going on. Mr Partridge was out and about with his recently completed 3" Mac Road Loco "Talos"...
"3-Inch Scale Mac Road Loco" (K.Eyre)
The popular 4.5" Foden Fire Engine...
"Foden Fire Engine" (K.Eyre)
We had road locomotives, agricultural engines, steam tractors, ploughing engines, general purpose and of course the beautiful showman's engines running around the vast site in the Spring sunshine...
"4-Inch Scale Fowler Showman's Engine - Sir Henry" (K.Eyre)
An event like this tends to run itself in terms of the exhibits, once the gates open anyway. The engines simply steam up at their leisure and meander around the site minding their own business. With 72 in steam though, there was always plenty to see...
"Queuing Traffic" (K.Eyre)
A 4" Burrell Agricultural engine, named "Kate"...
"4-Inch Burrell" (K.Eyre)
We had a good variety of sizes this year, from the 1.5" Royal Chester right up to beautiful 6" brutes including the Daniel family's absolutely immaculate Garrett "Jack"...
"6-Inch Garrett" (K.Eyre)
One of my four-years-in-a-row supporters: Mr Hudspith: was at Statfold with his well travelled 4" Foster "Safaniya"...
"The Foster Safaniya" (K.Eyre)
Many engines gathered outside the Seed Oil building for a cuppa'...
"A Small Gathering" (K.Eyre)
Four of the SBR railway engines were employed doing the train service, whilst 0-4-0 Hudswell Clarke No19 found herself working on Platform 3 road throughout the weekend. No19 was offering free footplate rides up and down the car park line and these proved extremely popular with guests of all ages visiting the event...
"No19 In Steam" (K.Eyre)
One of the SBR locomotives in service on the passenger workings was the recently restored 0-6-0 Hudswell Clarke known as "Alpha"...
"HC Alpha" (K.Eyre)
Whilst the many traction engines and railway locomotives were busy going about their day, indoors we had displays of toy steam, Meccano, 16mm, fairground models and much more. In the Hunslet Museum building, the 16mm-scale Bagnall "Frog" (coal fired) is seen working on the Birches Barn Extension Railway layout...
"Coal Fired 16mm Live Steam" (K.Eyre)
In the first field we also had the typical working displays. Corn milling, wood sawing and steam cultivating were the displays on offer. Mr Brett was again working with his much travelled 4" Burrell "Sybil" on the rack sawing display...
"Wood Sawing with Sybil" (Traction Time)
One of the displays we tried to fit in was the Midday "Heavy Haulage" example. Mr Woodbine's superb 6" Burrell DCC Road Loco "Wandering Star" was thankfully employed as we attempted to start one of the SBR's huge triple axle Mack trucks uphill. We estimated the weight at roughly 8 tons but the gradient on this tarmac carpark is pretty strong...
"Mack Pull" (I.Morris)
"Wandering Star" pretty much laughed at the Mack and took it up the car park easily, barely breaking a sweat. The poor old Mack suffered a radiator pipe failure soon after and had to be retired. However, not content to stop at that, we employed the visiting Wallis "Pedler" to be a replacement load for the 6" Burrell. Weighing 3.5 tons (ish), I always knew "Wandering Star" was extremely powerful but not to this extent. In bottom gear, the 6" Burrell lifted 13.5 tons upgrade from a standing start and duly accelerated in absolutely amazing voice uphill. Those privileged enough to be in the right place at the right time got a grand display of power but I feel no other miniature could lay claim to this...what a machine!...
"Wandering Star Pulls Pedler" (D.Hanks)
After doing our 30-minutes or so of heavy haulage (we'll repeat that next time!) there was an hours lull whilst we enjoyed a cuppa' before getting the line-up ready...
"Miniature Foursome" (Traction Time)
It wasn't just the small engines either. We had 5 Full Size engines in steam: Pedler, the Plougher, "Emily" the Simplicity, Arthur Henton's Aveling Roller and Teddy Boston's "Fiery Elias". The display of power was quite something...
"Pedler and the Plougher" (Traction Time)
The ploughing engines came in force this year: 3", 4" and 12"...
"Black Beauty and Black Bess" (Traction Time)
We also had a good number of the less seen McLaren's: 5 in total...
"4-Inch Mac Maud" (Traction Time)
The 1:45pm to 2pm parade came around before any of us could blink and I soon found myself marching into the line-up field with a massive trail of miniatures following me. After getting a good few into a well organised line and thinking how good they looked, I counted to my horror to the result of only 30 engines...meaning another 40 were yet to come and want a place! We ended up with a massive great circle of engines which looked fantastic: a tribute to all of our valued exhibitors who gave up their weekend for us this year...
"Engines All Around" (K.Eyre)
A repeat of the line-up pic from the title image now follows, just to show you the scale of what was going on. For us as a team having organised this, I felt quite emotional to be honest looking at the huge lines of engines all around us. It was quite a journey this one...
"Miniatures Galore" (M.Ranieri)
The 72 engines lined up in the field looked absolutely marvellous and the 2pm Whistle Up - joined by all of our big engines too - was absolutely ear splitting to say the very least. They must have heard us in Tamworth! Following the line-up it was time to disperse the amassed hoards of miniature steamers and prepare for a photo-op run down the concrete road towards Oak Tree (we needed a snap of the engines with a train). "Fiery Elias" meanwhile returned to her spot in the sun outside the traverser shed...
"Teddy Boston's Fiery Elias" (K.Eyre)
Engines on the concrete road, bound for Oak Tree and beyond...
"A Pair of Burrell's" (M.Ranieri)
The concrete tramway allowed the miniatures to steam away from Statfold, down the field and then cross-over the railway, returning along the driveway. This is a good hard running surface, nice and flat, and includes just over a mile of good running on one circuit. The railway and the miniatures were completely entwined for the weekend and this photograph by M.Ranieri proves that...
"Fiji Meets The Miniatures" (M.Ranieri)
Best in show this year went to one of the most unusual traction engines I've ever seen. This Canadian-style Waterous traction engine is driven by her owner - Mr T.Barraclough of Telford and made a fine sight chugging happily along the tramway...
"Waterous Traction Engine" (M.Ranieri)
Izzy, aboard his 6" Savage "Firefly", was most helpful throughout the weekend providing coal bags and water from his well-stocked trailer...
"Firefly Out & About" (M.Ranieri)
One further lovely aspect about the weekend was the ability to pair big with small. Statfold's huge BB Ploughing engine was paired alongside Steve Elliott's equally lovely 3" Fowler Z7...
"Plougher's Big and Small" (M.Ranieri)
The day continued right through to closing time with engines steaming all over the place. Statfold was a real steam heaven: trains and traction engines and models galore. I am so pleased with how it all went off. Ken Eyre captured me here in the car park during the continuing afternoon sunny period, radio in hand as per...
"Me With Two 6" Engines" (K.Eyre)
Eventually, as closing time neared, engines started to bed down for the evening after a very pleasant day. But, for us, it wasn't over yet! The lads were busy shunting stock with the 0-4-2 "Howard" in preparation for the 6pm Exhibitor Special, bound for Oak Tree and of course our private exhibitor/staff party with steam rally favourite Dr Busker. I quickly got washed and changed, although the new outfit did still include my overalls, in preparation for driving my favourite SBR engine: Bagnall 4-4-0 "Isibutu". This huge Bagnall has featured on the blog before, see here, and she was chosen for tonight's duty due to the heavy train weight. "Isibutu" and "Howard" would double-head the well loaded train out, around the railway and back to Oak Tree where the set would be split and half the train returned to Statfold Jnc as ECS to dispose the Bagnall, with "Howard" remaining on for the evening return trains. I drove "Isibutu" off shed and down into the yard before backing her onto the train in the fading light ready for departure...
Needless to say, we had a storming run around the railway. The train was full to standing room only on all 5 coaches and so "Isibutu" bore the brunt of the weight. She sounded like a dream as we attacked the various climbs on the SBR and I was grinning from ear to ear. Arrival at Oak Tree came all too soon and I was relieved there in order to head into the roundhouse to check on proceedings with food & entertainment etc (it never stops!). Then it was time for a well-deserved beer whilst the now fed exhibitors enjoyed the wonders of the SBR roundhouse and, from 8pm onwards, the performance by Dr Busker. I retired not long before midnight after an absolutely fantastic but hugely draining day. Well done SBR - well done to my great team Nick, Leanne and Phil. Many thanks to everyone who helped with this event - whether you crewed an engine, brought an exhibit, worked the box, helped in the field, put up signs or made the tea - it all helped. Many thanks also to Ken Eyre, Malcolm Ranieri, Stuart Carrier (Traction Time) and Mr Hanks for allowing their images to be used to illustrate this rambling-on post. My many thanks to all who supported this event, I hope we did Statfold proud. All the best everyone, Sam...

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