It’s always nice to go to a new rally, especially one in a completely different area of the country with which you are not familiar.
Your correspondent was fortunate to be invited to help crew on James Ragsdales recently restored Garrett Showman’s Engine. For those unfamiliar with its restoration, it has been restored from a boiler and other original parts found in a Norfolk cellar. Originally a built as a tractor, ‘Invincible’ has been restored to full showman’s specification by James and his family. It’s a stunning job, which culminated in James winning the Steam Apprentice Clubs ‘Technical Achievement’ award at last year’s NTET AGM (which also saw his father Dave receiving an award for his services to the preservation movement). The engine is a delight to drive, and a real credit to everyone who worked on it
Also present was Dave’s Burrell Showman’s ‘Princess of Wales’. The engine is celebrating its 100th year in 2015 and was suitably decorated with birthday bunting for its trips around the arena. It was new to Wynn’s of Newport and subsequently passed to Rogers Amusements who added the dynamo. ‘Princess of Wales’ was retired by the firm in the 1940’s and only entered preservation in the 80’s when the family decided to sell her.
A rare treat was the sight of Fowler showman’s engines ‘Renown’ & ‘Repulse’ on the same rally field, and traveling around the ring together during the engine parade. Both engines worked for northern showman John Murphy.
Away from the twisted brass, several engines caught my eye. Foremost being Aveling & Porter Roller 11240 lettered up in the livery of well-known East Anglian firm Taylor Brothers of Wimbish, which was accompanied by a matching living wagon. The last time I had seen this engine was when the John Ullman collection was sold at Cheffins in October 2010.
Elvaston is a fantastic rally, in a lovely setting. My only regret is that I spent so much time polishing ‘Invincible’ that I didn’t get time to inspect the other engines for as long as I might wish!