The International Steam Pages

Roxton Park Steam Rally 1970

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I recently recovered some of my slides which included those taken at Bedfordshire Steam Engine Preservation Society's Roxton Park Rally in September 1970. While it was clearly on a smaller scale than the society's present event at Old Warden the key elements are instantly recognisable and many pictures look like those I have been taking more than forty year later... Slides were never 'free' like today's digital images and there aren't that many of them. My memories of the event are necessarily hazy but I do remember being mightily impressed by the steam ploughing. Thanks are due to members of the Traction Talk Forum who have come up with suggested identifications where registrations were not visible.

It's a Fowler ploughing engine, I have had it suggested that it is the late Bill Colebrook on it, which would make it 13880/1917. Now as it was the first of a pair (with 13881) it should have been a right hand engine but I have since learned that the two engines swapped drums etc while they were in the ownership of Lord Rayleigh’s Estates, this was not unusual as it helped balance wear on the gears, hence 13880 here has the 'wrong' handedness. Bill Rayner adds that 13880 was eventually sold in good order when Bill C was no longer able to maintain and operate it. For many years it has been reported as being in store in Bury St. Edmunds, hopefully one day it will re-emerge as others have done.

There is a further twist to the story, in that the other half 13881 is now a left handed engine again, it's operational and appears at rallies, particularly at the Crockey Hill celebration in 2016. When it changed hands in the 1970s, the purchaser Ephraim Flear already had a right hand engine (14375) and so 13881 was converted back again! 

And here's a shot of the ploughing, some of the spectators look to be far too close to the cable, at least by today's standards. Dick Eastwood suggests a Fowler BB1.

That's a Burrell Showman's Tractor in the foreground, 3868/1920, 'Island Prince' but I am told now that the Fowler behind it was 15466/1920 'The Duchess'..

This appears to be Fowler 11357/1908, I have included both cropped and uncropped versions, there were obviously quite a few engines present:

Burrell Showman's engine 3912/1921 'Pride of the Fens' followed:

Marshall 76751/1923 is the nearest engine, that's Robey triple roller 45655/1930 on the right, it's now with the Robey Trust in Tavistock..

The nearest engine is Foster 14625/1931, that behind seems to be Marshall 76751/1923 seen above.

Of these 3, that's the 'The Duchess' again on the right while Marshall 43560/1905 is on the left.

Foster 14625/1931 again on the left with Clayton & Shuttleworth 48224/1919 on the right.

These two rollers but both have 'Saunders' on the boards, that on the left is a Fowler, I have had it suggested that this is their original roller which would make it 17560/1929. That on the right is Aveling and Porter 11675/1926.

A classic selection, the little boys in shorts will be not far off their 60th birthdays now!

Then as now, steam powered threshing was a major attraction:

Finally at the show, a small organ:

A PS with a query... This slide was in the same box but from a different film, I can't read the processing date, most likely it would have been between 1970 and 1972, I've no memory of where it was taken but see below. AP 9071 does not appear in Steam Scenes or the index of the Traction Engine Register but I do suspect that it is Allchin 1415/1907 which both Steam Scenes and the TER give as AP 9077 although there are pictures on the web of it carrying AP 9071 as here as well as AP 9077. The bridge behind does look similar to the railway bridge at Havenstreet on the Isle of Wight.

Rob and Yuehong  Dickinson