The number of approved steam and gas (petrol) rallies held in Great Britain each year runs between 70 and 80, according to Jack Wharton, president of the National Traction Engine Club.
We were able to speak with the president on our recent visit to England, through arrangements made by Denis Brandt, former public relations director for the National Traction Engine Club. Wharton lives at Southern Down, Minster Lovell, Oxford OX8 5RD.
We asked for the attendance total at the biggest 1984 show.
Wharton replied that this was the Stourpaines rally in the south of England. It was attended by 103,000 in three days in September.
As in the U.S. and Canada, not all shows or rallies are big. Some are neighborhood get-togethers; others are held on a large acreage, with many engines on view.
Very few engines appear at the NTEC shows, Wharton found. One, a Waterloo, was offered for sale at Stourpaines but at last report was still in England.
Are many women involved? 'Quite a few,' Wharton replied. 'My wife Averill goes with me, and steers our engine, a Fowler Superlion called 'Supreme'. It is 10 HP.'
Wharton bought it second hand in 1958, and worked on restoring it 12 years. 'It was the last showman's engine made. Fowler made only four, and this was the last of the four. It looks like new.'
Wharton worked in steam with a family crew, in earlier years. The family did threshing, separating and hay baling, circulating from farm to farm. Repair of engines and threshing equipment was also a family service.
The NTEC publishes an excellent quarterly magazine titled STEAMING. It is edited by Roger West, whose address is 14 Charles St., Market Harbourough, Leicestershire, England LE 16 9AB.