Tourist on Board

Great Dorset Steam Fair

| July/August 2003

Morning line-up of showman engines at the 2002 Great Dorset Steam Fair in Tarrant, Hinton, England. This is only a portion of the engines on hand for this huge event.

I have been accused of spending too much of my ''spare' time on steam engine pursuits, but what better way for a steam nut to spend some time than to attend the world's largest steam event, the Great Dorset Steam Fair!

Last August, my sister, Barb Brodbeck, and I traveled to England and attended three days of the five-day show, and I'll say right off the trip exceeded our wildest expectations due in no small part to the efforts of Ross and Mike Lawrence of Somerset, England, who arranged accommodations, introductions and rides for us during our stay. I knew the event was large and encompassed a great deal, but nothing prepared me for the experience. My nine rolls of film might help explain the excitement.

Setting In

Upon our arrival in England we called Ross' cell phone, only to hear the wonderful sounds of organ music (there are some 100 organs at the show) and whistles in the background. Ross told us to follow the signs for the show (the Dorset Fair is situated on a huge 500-acre site in Tarrant, Hinton, just a bit northeast of Blandford Forum in south-central England off the A354 Highway) and stop at the administration area. After identifying ourselves, we were told to 'take the far lane (one of five!), past the Ferris wheel to the hedge road, turn right and then left, and at the top of the hill is the 'playpen.''

Intrepid travelers Beth Vanarsdall (left) and her sister, Barb Brodbeck, with Ross and Mike Lawrence's Wallis & Steevens, 'Lord Louis,' named after Prince Charles' favorite uncle, Lord Mountbatton. Most every engine has a name, and most every name has a story behind it, as well. Tending to polishing chores is Ania Legg, who also enjoys time behind the boiler running the engine.

Fowler 16 HP plowing engines 'Dreadnought' (left) and 'Victory.' Built in 1925, they were originally shipped to a sugar refinery in Scotland.