The Great Dorset (England) Steam Fair

52-key Gasparini street organ

A 52-key Gasparini street organ, one of the smaller organs.

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E2762 County F Kewaunee, Wisconsin, 54216

The first week of September saw a migration south to Stourpaine Bushes for the Great Dorset Steam Fair of the north's big guns in the fairground organ world. From Chester-le-Street in County Durham comes old thunder guts, the 98-key Gavioli band organ travelled by George Parmley, while from North Allerton in North Yorkshire comes the winner of last year's Edward Hine Memorial Trophy for the best fairground organ entry, the 112-key Gavioli owned by Richard Preston and Son. Showing his exhaust pipe to the highways from the other side of the north of England will be Tom Varley with the Johnny Verbeeck 115-key instrument from Clitheroe, Lancashire.

The Dorset event is well-known for its fairground organs and this year was no exception. With over 50 entries, 20 were of the 89-key or over variety. Six organs accompanied their owners machines in the fairground section, four being of 89-key size, while Alan Downs big Ferris Wheel sports a 52-keyless. Dean and Harry Lee's Steam Yachts has the ever popular chirpy little 49-key Chiappa.

The site this year was shunted about 270 acres farther north than formerly. The high rising ground which runs up from each side of the entering road is a natural cliff-like terrain and formed a near perfect grandstand equal to Epsom or Silver-stone for the viewing of this very popular section. The hedges, which are very thick, were cut out in large gaps, leaving large areas for viewing at close quarters. The larger trees remained overhanging the road, making the whole mile run a very attractive picture. The land owner, Lady Baker, recently remarked to Michael Oliver, secretary of the show: 'Your traction machines don't seem to hurt the overhanging oaks by giving their leaves a jolly good baking. They are all lovely and green.' To which Michael replied, 'In that case, my lady, this year I'm sure they will get a jolly good roasting.' Which I am sure that they did, considering the great number of steam engines that used this road. A new attraction this year was the horticultural section with thirty-five little garden tractors in full working order performing on seven acres. These ranged in age from a 1924 Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies mower and a 1918 Trusty Mechanical Horse to a 1957 David Brown Market Garden Tractor. Showman's engines are a great attraction at this event. This year several engines in this class appeared for the first time, these being from the famous manufacturing names such as Burrell, Fowler, Foster, and Aveling and Porter. More than 40 of these engines were seen here, being all dressed up in shiny brass and nickel plate with rows of light bulbs around the canopy and a big generator mounted up front.

At least 30 steam rollers were also seen at this show, as were more than 150 gas engines and about 200 gas tractors. Fordsons and Field Marshalls seemed to dominate the tractor scene. About two hundred motorcycles, some very old, were also seen as were about 100 Jeeps and other army exhibits. About fifty horse-drawn covered gypsy wagons as well as 75 rural crafts, such as lace making, needlework, glass blowing, wooden toys, doll houses, and pottery.

Altogether the two mornings that we spent there were very enjoyable. There are many, many exhibits seen here that are not seen at our shows in the States and, of course, many makes of tractors, cars, and gas engines that we never have seen. I can certainly recommend this show to anyone interested in steam. The show runs for five days in early September, each year.