15 September 2000

Great Dorset Steam Fair

THE Great Dorset Steam Fair, held recently at Tarrant Hinton, is the biggest vintage machinery event in Europe and probably the biggest in the world, claim the organisers. So far nobody has come forward to prove them wrong.

The fair has grown rapidly since a group of local enthusiasts held a vintage steam and tractor rally near Blandford in 1968. These days the organisers are disappointed if their steam fair fails to attract 200,000 visitors.

More than 250 agricultural steam engines including portables, ploughing and traction engines were booked in for this years event, as well as 220 vintage tractors plus cars, heavy horses, implements, models and timberyard machinery.

Some of the equipment had a long journey to reach the showground which covered more than 200ha (500 acres). It included five tractors from Germany, stationary engines from France and Holland, and five Burrell traction engines weighing about 12t. Those were shipped from New Zealand – reversing the journey they had made 80 or more years ago when they were exportedfrom the factory in Norfolk.

The oldest traction engine at this years fair was also a Burrell, built in 1877 and owned by Norfolk farmer Richard Parrott. The oldest of the 102 tractors working in the cultivation and threshing areas was a 1915 Case 10-20 with three wheels – all of differentsizes. The oldest stationary engine was an 1899 Hornsby Akroyd with hot bulb ignition.

For more details and pictures from the Dorset Steam Fair, please turn to Farmlife.

When the Ferguson Model A arrived in 1936, it was the first production tractor with Ferguson System linkage and hydraulics.

The working timber yard included this 1925 Burrell traction engine powering a rack saw bench.

Above: This Case Model R tractor is still owned by the Bush family, which bought it new in 1940 for their farm at Shaftesbury, Dorset.

Left: This Case 10-20 three-wheeler, built in 1915, was the oldest tractor in the working section.

A well-restored International 10-20, built in 1930, poses in front of a row of living vans used by steam engine crews when travelling on contract work.

Teams of Clydesdales, Shires, Suffolk Punches and Percherons showed how the land was cultivated before tractors and steam engines arrived.