Shropshire Steam Rally Part 1- steam power and tractors

Jude and I had not visited the Shropshire Steam Rally for over 20 years so once we decided to attend this year’s show we were looking forward to seeing how things have changed.

The first change was the length of the traffic jam full of people waiting to get in. Once parked up the queue of people was also extremely long but once we got in the rich aroma of hot oil, steam and coal smoke reminded us that not everything had changed.

We were soon greeted by a strange array of characters.

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We decided to pass through the trade stands, of which there were many, on our way to the displays of old tractors, working horses and then the steam vehicles themselves. But there were so many trade stands we took an age to find out way back out. It was worth all the searching though.

Before being enthralled by watching the mobile sawmill powered by a sturdy steam traction engine we were entertained by this steam organ. None of the operators wore safety gloves and the machinery had no guards, so there was definitely no health and safety executive watching their every move. How refreshing! But we did count how many fingers they all had. All present and correct!

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The next vehicle to catch our attention was powering a road stone crushing and grading machine. The owners of this old conglomeration of machines and artifacts and their friends who had come along to put on the working display were in a “bit of a flap” as it had ground to a halt. Busily each man searched for the breakage or cause of the break down, heads down, eyes peeled and brains working hard. Visitors watched on, willing them on and hoping to see and hear the cogwheels grinding once more.

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And the next pair were powering threshing machinery. One of these was also proving to be temperamental throwing the bails of hay out in random bunches with a “cat’s cradle” of string wrapped around instead of neatly tied cuboid-shaped bails. The other slowly trundled along more successfully.

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Next it was off to wander the lines of old tractors – I have to admit I have a soft spot for old tractors particularly the red Massey Fergussons and the Fordsons in their livery of contrasting deep blue and rich orange. But there was a fascinating line-up of tractors of all ages and from all over the world. It was great to see some working with their varying engine sounds and exhaust notes.

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A few bits and pieces of agricultural paraphenalia added an air of nostalgia.

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I loved getting in close to the vintage farm machinery and picking out detailing of colours, patterns and textures.

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Fergie Foraging – when we hunt for mushrooms and toadstools in autumn woodlands and fields we call it Fungi Foraging or Fungi Foray so as we went seeking out Massey Fergusson tractors in the forest of vintage tractors I thought we should call it Fergie Foraging or going on a Fergie Foray. Whatever we call it it was most successful.

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But there were plenty of others which although not Fergies were just as interesting to the eye and to the memory.

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As we left the tractor display area we came across this old craftsmen who certainly looked the part. He was a “bodger” which although is now often a derogatory term for a poor worker, in reality it was a skilled job, making the staves for the back of chairs, turning wood on a foot pedaled machine. He was skilled both as a craftsman and as a communicator. He kept the children amused while educating them at the same time. Great to watch and listen to!

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To finish with here is just a small hint of what we can look forward to in part two.

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Published by greenbenchramblings

A retired primary school head teacher, I now spend much of my time gardening in our quarter acre plot in rural Shropshire south of Shrewsbury. I share my garden with Jude my wife a newly retired teacher , eight assorted chickens and a plethora of wildlife. Jude does all the heavy work as I have a damaged spine and right leg. We also garden on an allotment nearby. We are interested in all things related to gardens, green issues and wildlife.

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