Welland Steam Rally.

27th - 29th July. 2001  

    Seeing as the Much Marcle steam rally fell victim to foot and mouth disease we decided that the Welland steam rally was to be blessed with our presence.  The weather was looking good, and by half past three on Friday afternoon we were well under way.
    To say there was a good turnout would be a classic understatement, the fields surrounding the rally were full with caravans and large motor homes.  We managed to find a suitable space and phoned the other club members who were coming to warn them that the site could very well be full.  Luckily, those who did arrive the next day managed to fit in without too much hassle.

If only you could code the smell into HTML.    

Having set up camp, Gordon, Roy, Scrote ( OK - so he's really not called Scrote - but he used to have a scooter and the name stuck ) and myself headed for the nearby town of Upton for a bite to eat.  We found it easier to travel on the two trikes rather than put on 'leather gear' for solo bike riding.


 Upon our return, the steam rally's 'night life' was just beginning.  Standing at the top of the hill looking down there was a splendid array of showman's engines and fairground rides - all illuminated, and plumes of smoke rose from the various engines.  All stirring stuff, I'm afraid the 'net just doesn't do it justice, you had to be there.

filmed in "Madmaxoscope"   

  One of the more spectacular sights was the tractor pulling.  Some of the 'conventional' tractors were having difficulty towards the end of the run but one 'professional' pulling tractor ( pictured left ) made it look easy.  This monster was going so fast at the end that he had to brake, causing the 'sliding weight' to hit the top of its ramp with an almighty clang.  I pity the poor guy sitting in the operator's cab.  This same tractor was later spotted ploughing uphill at around 40 mph.  I want one ! 


    The weather forecast for Saturday said it was to be the hottest day of the year,  and they were correct.   The sun had driven most people out of their tents at an ungodly hour and it looked like it was going to be a scorcher.  I managed to find a spot in the shade next to the main arena, the ideal spot for getting the best photographs.  Wrong !  The first display was the military vehicles, and the first vehicle happened to be a Sherman tank - which did one lap of the arena and parked straight in front of me.  Oh well - better luck next time.

There is a green hill far away - - with a Fowler BB 1   ?   

 At least I still had a good view of the rest of the rally site.  Up on the hill opposite a pair of Fowler ploughing engines were working away.  The image of an engine silhouetted against the skyline is one of those sights that makes these events worthwhile, in my humble opinion.
    The Sherman did eventually move out of the way and the parade of steam engine was next on the agenda.  This time I was in prime position and there were no obstructions.  The only difficult bit is choosing which piccies to put on this page - I do have * some * consideration for your connection time.

Showman's engine Ploughing engine Steam lorry - chain drive Steam lorry - shaft drive Steam roller - in case you couldn't tell. 

    By now it was getting seriously hot.  Scrote and myself decided to head out of the steam rally and find somewhere for dinner.  Even rolling along on the trike it was too hot for comfort so we dived into a rather inviting pub.  The hottest day of the year and I go and have curry for dinner - will I never learn ?  Ross on Wye was the next port of call, where we wandered around for a while before setting off back to Welland.

Now that's what you call a tank badge.    

There were a fair number of bikes on display, ranging from the over restored, to the 'found in a ditch' varieties.  Strangely enough, I don't recall seeing a Vincent, although a few other vee twins were around, including the very smart Indian pictured left.   Rumour had it that the band appearing later was to be the Wurzles - now call me a sad old git, but I was quite looking forward to seeing these icons of pop, even if it was 25 years ago that they made number one.  Come to think of it, 1976 had a very hot Summer too.  Maybe it's an omen. 

"Texas chain saw sculpter" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

    Now here's something you don't see every day - a man sculpting using a chain saw.  Very noisy, very messy, a tad dangerous and good fun, by the look of it.
    The rest of the afternoon was spent just nosing around and trying to keep in the shade as much as possible.
    Once again, we  headed out for tea, returning before they locked the main gates at ten o clock. 

This picture fails - fireworks are always a bugger to get right.
       Speaking of ten o clock, it was at this time that the firework display started, which was nothing short of excellent.  I dread to think how much money went up in smoke, literally, but it was one of the best displays I had seen.  Sadly the photographs, once again, don't do it justice.

" I drove my tractor through your haystack last night."   

  Following a drink and a nibble it was time for the 'headline' band of the night. > > > > > The Wurzles. < < < < <
They went down a storm - just about everybody joined in.  How come so many people knew the words to most of the songs ?    Come on, admit it, I bet * YOU * know the words too.
    The bar was serving until one in the morning - the tractor pulling went on until much later.
    And so ended a very good day. 

    Sunday morning and that sun was at it again.  A quick walk down to the main arena for a bite to eat, then it was time for the tractors to 'do their thing'.

Flying the flag for agricultural trike riders.    

There were tractors of all shapes and sizes - some restored to better than original and some than had just driven off the farm.    Especially for Mike Healy, from the 'Trike Register' is this wonderful three wheeled tractor. { pictured left }
We had a bit of a tractor traffic jam with dozens of the things trying to get into and out of the arena - sort of a farmyard rush hour. 

The simplicty of open crank engines.   

 After watching the tractors for a while our attention wandered over to the stationary engines.  These delightful little ( and not so little ) things happily popped and bounced with a rhythm all of their own.    I can see the attraction of stationary engines, they sort of lull you to a state of calm with the soothing combination of sound and movement.     Who knows, maybe one day 'engine therapy' will be available on the National Health ?
    By now the temperature was climbing into the 'uncomfortable' regions again, so we decided to pack up in a leisurely fashion and make a move towards home.    There was still so much that we hadn't seen - the model tent - the craft tent - the falconry display, and we certainly hadn't been around all of the stalls that were selling weird and wonderful things.
    Maybe  next year I will book a few extra days off work and spend even more time at what turned out to be a most enjoyable weekend.