2011 Miniature Traction Engine Rally Pictorial Report

At the end of the season in 2010, a small group of members suggested that the Society could hold a miniature steam rally in 2011, making it open to visitors, including the public. This was thought to be an excellent idea by all the membership at the AGM where date for the weekend was chosen, the 16th and 17th April, as this was the first weekend in the season that did not clash with other model engineering events.

The objective of the two day event was to show model traction engines, road vehicles and similar models to be operated in the open air in steam working machinery such as balers, threshers, stationary engines as the full size used to do in the past. It was also hoped that the event would be well attended by the general public to get the Society put back on the Basingstoke map!

After months of hard work put in by a separate event sub-committee, the reality of the event was better than ever expected. The weekend was a huge success for our club of our size, attracting many visiting engines from all over the south of England. The event also proved popular with the public, with the 5" gauge railway giving over 800 passenger rides for the two days. Congratulations go to the extremely hardworking rally sub-committee and a dedicated membership who pulled out all the stops to help make the show a success.

Set up began on at 9am on Friday morning, when the craft centre's paddock became available to the Society. The rally sub-committee had already been up since 4am putting ‘Steam Rally’ direction signs up all along the ring-road to direct campers to the site to set up for the weekend. 36 traction engines were booked for the weekend, with the majority all camping with caravans; there was little space left once they had all arrived! The rally field was set up with all the relevant equipment with coal and water points laid on around the site. Much of the railway was also set up and was ready for the many passenger numbers the following Saturday. The 'Garden Gang' (the garden railway boys) were screwing down the last few lengths of the first running loop track to the newly completed garden railway, as the builders had finished late due to the unexpected cold spell around Christmas time.

Meanwhile, after midday the setup was beginning in the main halls, where the club exhibition of members’ models was held, along with traders and other modelling paraphernalia! In the halls there were four stands of model stationary engines and the Basingstoke model boat club. Much more had arrived by Saturday morning, and the full compliment of members’ models had arrived also. Unfortunately, the hall was not as full as hoped as two traders had to cancel at the last minute, including Mamod sadly, who would have been an excellent stand for all the younger steam enthusiasts (as I think it would be fair to say a great majority of model engineers started with a Mamod!)

It was an early start for most on Saturday morning, particularly for the rally event team who were anxious to see the results of their hard work. Most traction engines were ready on the field slowly raising steam whilst a many of the locomotives on the railway side were all unloaded and being prepared. On the visitors front, we had model engineers come from all around Basingstoke; we had members come from Oxford, Southampton and even afar as Exeter bringing models of all types and scales, most of which I hope have been captured in the photographs below. Visitors were not just on the traction engine front either; we had visitors from Salisbury and Bournemouth helping out with the passenger hauling on the railway too.

In the rally field there was much movement as all the models were driving around the site entertaining the public, there were two engines working scale machinery; one on a bench saw and the other was bailing grass! On the field there was the tool supplier JB Cutting tools, the catering team and the bar. There was much to see on the station throughout the weekend as an intensive change around of locomotives was in place with most trains double headed all weekend. On the Saturday, there were three special double-headed trains; there were two GNR Sir Nigel Gresley's O1 2-8-0 in grey livery, two double-headed B1's 4-6-0 in BR black livery and double headed BR class 37's. The new garden railway, rebuilt more substantially in its old location, was also operating with just a single loop, proving popular with our riding passengers who have missed it since it closed back in 2007. Since the rally, the second outside loop is almost complete and should be in operation for the next public running event. It is excellent to see it back, let’s hope it attracts new members with the smaller models.

On top of all the Rally's model engineering activities, the 14 independent craft businesses that make up the Craft Centre were all open, some staying open on the Sunday too, including art studios, an old fashioned sweet shop, aroma therapy providers, florists and wood turners who operate from the converted farm buildings, helping to provide attractions for other family members.

Big thanks go out to John P, Neil, Darren, Collin and Ken who all worked hard organising and planning the show, the thanks are extended to the membership for all turning out in droves contributing in some way whether running their locos, exhibiting their locos or manning the busy Station throughout the weekend. Special thanks go to all visitors, both model engineers and public, who came and supported the event and who we hope enjoyed themselves and will want to come back next year! Thanks also to Basingstoke Council whose co-operation made the event possible.

Below are a few photos from the event, mostly taken on the Saturday by John and James Taviner. Image 45 by Malcolm Duckett.

Engines in the Field...


Engines at the Station...

Engines in the Hall...


Please note that all engines are subject to availability. The Society will endeavour to offer the programme as advertised, however this may change at short notice.