Affiliated to the National Traction Engine Club President: HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF BEDFORD Hon. Secretary: J. CRAWLEY, Field House, Turvey, Bedfordshire.
Having been a reader of your excellent magazine which I obtain through my very good friend Bob Pratt of Ipswich, England, I was wondering whether you could help me by giving a mention in the Album of what we think is the largest Rally yet held. It was a three day affair, the Saturday being devoted to the arrivals of the Engines, many under their own steam, from all parts of the country. In the evening we had the old fairground organs running making electricity for their own coloured lights and driving the old time (folding paper) organs, four of which we had present.
On the Sunday we had Engines giving demonstrations of the work for which they were originally built --Steam Ploughing, Steam Mole Draining, Steam Threshing, Steam Rolling and Showman's Engines again driving the organs.
On the Monday which was the main Rally Day, His Grace the Duke of Bedford, on whose Estate the Rally was held, arrived on the field steering the writer's 7 n.h.p., 1920 Fowler Showman's Engine 'Kitchener' Immediately upon entering the ring he was welcomed in the customary manner by every Engine blowing its whistle, some noise, as there were 65 other Engines present. The main event of the afternoon was a challenge race between His Grace the Duke of Bedford and the Marquis of Tavistock, his son. Immediately the race had started, the field was deluged with rain causing the 21,000 odd spectators to seek shelter under the trees. Meanwhile the contestants, much to their credit, continued the race, His Grace being the ultimate winner.
Unfortunately the weather forecast for the weekend spoilt our chances of realising anything like the anticipated attendance, which is usual for these events, and consequently we have a very large number of programmes available and I did think that perhaps you would be so kind as to mention in the Album, that these might be obtained from the writer at 25 cents post free.
I am also the Vice Chairman and Editor of the English National Traction Engine Club and I enclose copies of the three issues of the club magazine that have been published this year, which I think might be of interest to you. Should any of your readers be interested I can supply these at 25 cents post free for the ordinary issues and 50 cents post free for the January special edition. (s) John Crawley, Secretary
(Following is an account of the Rally as it appeared in the Saturday, Aug. 6, 1960 issue of The World's Fair newspaper in England.)
WOBURN TRACTION ENGINE RALLY
By Ted Cooper
When I visited Woburn on Bank Holiday Monday, August 1, it seemed that all the world and his wife had descended on the spacious Park and the Traction Engine Rally Arena was already thronged with people, intent on seeing everything and enjoying a memorable day. I must, at the outset, extend my congratulations to the organizers of the Rally, the Bedford Steam Engine Preservation Society and to Mr. John Crawley, the tireless Secretary, in particular -- for the really excellent manner in which the entire event was staged, for this Rally is the largest in Britain.
The Rally covered the three days of the holiday week-end, but Monday was the Big Day in every respect --big crowds, big entries and big enthusiasm! On the Saturday the engines were arriving throughout the day and many were in steam for inspection purposes, showman-type engines and organs were working during the afternoon and evening, giving a real Showland atmosphere to the proceedings. The organs present were H. Epton and Sons' 89-key Marenghi Scenic type, John Crawley's 89-key Marenghi and W. Chamberlain's 89-key Limonaire. On Sunday, July 31, various engines gave displays of mole draining, timber winching, threshing, steam rolling and ploughing, and the crowds also enjoyed recitals on the organ.
The engines were drawn up in line on three sides of the arena, thus affording the steam fans ample opportunity to study their details and take photographs, and this regimental lineup made conditions much easier for the competitors to enter the arena in procession.
A very efficient public address system enabled everyone on the ground to hear the descriptive commentary that was given by Eric Jelly a gentleman who knew his engines.
The official opening ceremony by His Grace the Duke of Bedford was scheduled for 2 p.m., and some time before that hour John Crawley's showman type Burrell 'William V' moved off towards the Abbey, driven by its owner, to meet the Duke who was to steer it on its journey back to the arena. As the hands of the clock neared 2 p.m. all necks were craned in the direction of the Abbey and as the majestic engine slowly came into view over the brow of the hill there was a deafening chorus from the whistles of the engines around the arena. As the engine entered the arena the assembled crowd gave the white-clad Duke a terrific welcome. Climbing down from his lofty perch the Duke moved across towards the Secretary's tent and was introduced by Mr. Crawley.
In his usual lighthearted manner the Duke opened his remarks by saying how much pleasure he derived from being associated with the Traction Engine Rallies at Woburn Park and he welcomed 'these hard-working men and women' to Woburn. 'Many of them,' he said, 'came long distances to attend and I hope they will come again and again and always have full steam. That is enough steam from me, as I am here to open the Rally. I have pleasure in declaring the Rally open. I would, however, like to add a few words. It was previously arranged that I was to have a race with Lord Montagu of Beaulieu -- but you all know what happened to Lord Montagu! To avoid disappointment I have been challenged by my son and I only hope that he lets the 'Old Man' win! I will now hand you over to our hardworking Secretary, Mr. John Crawley, in whose hands the events will be capably presented to you.'
The Grand Parade of engines then took place, each engine as it passed the commentator's box being fully described, and after passing the special enclosure the engines were marshalled into rows along the length of the arena. When the last engine was finally in position the arena made a wonderful sight and it was hard to realize that many of the engines had been built at the turn of the century thanks to the hard work put in by their owners to preserve them. As soon as the engines had left the arena the challenge Race between the Duke of Bedford and his son, the Marquis of Tavistock, was announced, and the two contestants moved into the arena to mount their engines. The Duke took the wheel of T. C. Fensome's Marshall traction engine, No. 43560, and the Marquis climbed aboard Messrs. A. and G. Fensom's Burrell traction, No. 4055. The green Burrell, No. 4094, owned and driven by L. C. W. Parris, acted as pace-maker.
At the starter's signal the pacemaker set off at a lively speed, closely followed by the Duke the self-styled 'Prince of Steam' -- and despite valiant efforts on the part of his son he romped home an easy winner, thus upholding his proud title. At the end of the race the contestants made a circuit of the arena in the Serpollet steam car, receiving the well-deserved plaudits of the crowd. Space forbids a detailed account of the ensuing items in the long programme but these included an obstacle relay race, steam roller balloon race, egg and spoon race, traction engine sack race, traction engine polo race, Sentinel obstacle race, ladies' steering race and musical chairs. The commentator, in passing, mentioned the high speeds attained by the Sentinel steam wagons, instancing Sentinel S.4 owned by A. M. Stafford. 'This engine,' he said, 'has done 66 m.p.h. -- and the Police said so!' There was a grand total of 64 engines in steam, with two of the show man type engines driving the organs of H. Epton and Son and W. Chamberlain.
A recent addition to the attractions at Woburn Abbey is the Amusement Park, adjoining the Children's Playground, with Raymond Beardow as concessionaire. In addition to the amusements on this site Raymond also operates the Crazy Golf course, Putting Green, adult boating lake, Kiddies' paddle boats and automatic machines. In the Amusement Park stands Raymond Beardow and Sons' Galloping Horses, a Walker-built machine that came to Woburn from Kings of Lickey Hills. A Peter Pan railway is operated by the Supercar Company and nearby Jimmy Wheatley has his Sand Train, a Bingo stall and roll-ups.
Raymond Beardow also features a smart Kiddie's Yacht ride, swings, wheel'em-in, pick-a-straw and automatics, and Mrs. Bailey completes the games with her large ring hoopla stall. It was good to meet these Notts and Derby travellers and have a chat about events on their 'home ground' Quite a happy little family, and all spoke very highly of the Duke of Bedford and the managerial staff at Woburn Abbey.