LETTER FROM ENGLAND

By Elmer

Here is a letter from England. It was written personally to me
but I am glad to share it with you. It is enjoyable and
informative. Elmer

ROBERT G. PRATT, ‘Wentlea’ Capel St. Mary, Ipswich,
Suffolk, England

IT HAS BEEN VERY much on my conscience that I have not written
to you lately to thank you for continuing to send the IRON-MEN
ALBUM MAGAZINE which I continue to distribute to your readers in
this country. ***** We all enjoy reading of your ‘doings’
which are so very much in line with what we are doing on this side.
Throughout our summer months, there is a ‘Rally’ (as we
call them) for every Saturday in one part of the country or
another, and sometimes two. As a result of these, enthusiastic
owners get the chance of matching their steeds, getting in some
practice at driving as we are still allowed to use the highway even
on steels, so long as we have third party insurance, which is
compulsory for ALL vehicles on our roads anyway, and some owners
drive their engines many miles, even 70 or 80 miles in some cases,
just to show their paces at a Rally and then face the long run
home.

All this is good for the engines, as they have to be kept in
fair order to undertake these long journeys and of course, various
charities benefit. Our local Rally, that of the East Anglian
Traction Engine Club was a great success, as for one thing, it was
one of the few that was blessed with good weather and for another,
it was well attended by both engines and people. My small steam
road roller, ‘Billy’ was there, the smallest engine on the
field but it had to go by low-loader truck, as it was a distance of
25 miles and it can only do about 4 miles on a filling of water.
That is one of the big difficulties water. In the old days, every
village had its pond and many small rivers had no bridges but the
traffic went through the water, only foot passengers having small
bridges to enable them to get across. So it was easy then for the
owners of those early engines to get a ‘fill,’ now the
village ponds have been filled in, the residents getting their
drinking water through pipes which I suppose is better for their
health and the bridges have high-walled sides you cannot get an
engine’s pick-up hose over (to keep small boys from falling in
I suppose) all of this taking no account of the congestion that
would be caused by a steam engine stopping for water. So next year
I plan to take a trailer or truck behind by other engine as we will
have some 50 miles to go, then we can take water and coal with us.
This engines has no name at present. It is being repainted and when
this has been done I will have to think up a name for it. It was
built in 1911 and was later fitted with solid rubber pressed-on
tyres which are still quite good. This helps to increase road speed
and adds to the comfort of driving. The trailer is quite as old as
the engine.

Your country is not alone in having ministers of religion who
are interested in traction engines. The Road Locomotive Society, of
which you may remember I was Librarian and of which I am now
Chairman, has chosen as my successor the Revd. R. C. Stebbing of
Tacolneston in Norfolk and the library is in good hands with him.
He was a fully qualified engineer, designer and draughtsman before
taking Holy Orders and still has a weakness for steam which is
certainly nothing for anyone to be ashamed of. He is, I believe,
going to write a book on the evolution of the steam plough and
certainly knows as much about this subject as anyone I know. It is
one thing to write a book in England and quite another to get a
publisher to publish it, unless it is a ‘thriller’ or has a
bit of scandal in it, which is a pity.

Writing of more general things, we over here were delighted with
the wonderful reception you Americans gave our Queen on her recent
visit to your great country and we were glad to know you took her
to your hearts.

There has been a lot of silly nonsense written about her here by
people who should know better but this would not blind you to her
great qualities I imagine. Hers is a great task and she wins our
admiration by the way she does it. What a shame our newspapers
sometimes have to stoop so low in order to try and sell those few
extra copies!

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment