It’s Showtime! Vintage Tractor Events in Britain

The period between May and September offers plenty of vintage tractor shows in the U.K.


| September 2015



Llandudnos Transport Festival

A glimpse of the tractor line-up at Llandudno’s Transport Festival, with Ferguson and Massey-Harris dominating the scene.

Photo by Josephine Roberts

During the summer, you are never far from a vintage tractor event in the U.K. Numerous small shows are arranged by local clubs and enthusiasts, plus there are large national events that usually provide sufficient entertainment for a long weekend. Either way, between May and September there will always be someplace where you can enjoy looking at old tractors.

Biggest of them all

One of the largest of Britain’s vintage rallies is the Great Dorset Steam Fair, now in its 47th year. The name is somewhat misleading, as this show is about so much more than steam-powered engines and vehicles. The Great Dorset is Britain’s leading heritage event, and is of interest to anyone who has a fascination in our rural and industrial past. Providing a vast blend of entertainment and nostalgia over a 600-acre plot, this fair draws in about 200,000 visitors each year, which just goes to show that far from being a quirky hobby that appeals to just a few enthusiasts, the vintage scene is in fact a huge, growing industry, popular with a far wider audience than one might imagine.

But these large shows aren’t for everyone. They are crowded for a start, and there will always be a certain amount of travelling time and queuing time, and then of course there’s the cost. It might be a small island we live on here, but you’d be surprised how expensive it is to get around here. As I write this, petrol costs approximately £1.15 per litre (roughly $4.25 per gallon), and diesel is slightly more expensive again at about  £1.20 per litre. Shocked? You should be. And in far-flung rural places, the costs can be even greater. Not only have these costs made it expensive for people who wish to take their vintage vehicles to shows and events, they have, more importantly, crippled many of our hauliers too.

With those costs in mind, I usually try to attend the local shows rather than the national events. It’s not just about money, though. I happen to like the fact that at a local event, I stand more of a chance of bumping into old friends, and generally the smaller events are more laid-back in nature and less bureaucratic than the larger events.

The queen of resorts

The first show of the season in this area is the Llandudno Transport Festival, which is held over three days at the start of May. Most shows are held in rural areas, with acreage being the key factor when it comes to venue choice, but this show is held within the Victorian seaside town of Llandudno and a stone’s throw from the beach and promenade. I think you guys would like this show, as I’m sure it is so very different from anything you probably see over there.

If you were wealthy and fashionable in the Victorian and Edwardian periods, Llandudno was the place to be seen. There was a real belief back then that the sea air, and indeed bathing in the chilly sea, could cure all sorts of ailments, and the crème de la crème of society came in droves to enjoy the elegance of Llandudno with its beautiful architecture, its sweeping promenade and its grand pier, all set against the backdrop of the Snowdonian mountains.