The Great Dorset (England) Steam Fair

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A 52-key Gasparini street organ, one of the smaller organs.
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One of the many farm steam traction engines seen at this fair.
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The Burrell Showman's Road Locomotive.
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They had just brought this steam roller in and were preparing to unload it.
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Part of the row of rollers getting up steam.
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Getting up steam to unload this fine example of a Showman's engine.
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A massive Fowler roller.

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,

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

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.

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