A fine day with patches of sunlight drifting over the flat fen towards the Isle of Ely. Also floating on the wind were wisps of smoke, the scent of steam coal and the sounds of a friendly and informative country voice carried from the public address system....."a foine owd tractor that, owned by a chap lives just down the road. Probbly built about 1958, somewhere round that toime. "
Yes, we're at the annual Haddenham Steam Rally, just south of Ely. There are of course a large number of steam traction-engines present, but even more tractors of various vintages, some restored to look as though they've just rolled off the production line, others in what might be called "farmyard condition". I've often wondered what happened to all the old rusty tractors that used to stand, covered in nettles and ivy, behind every shed in the fens. I think I may have found my answer.
Here they are, fully functional and spruced up enough to win cups.
Here's a bean drill that lacks a steering wheel but is controlled by a bar which can be moved left and right. But we'd better have a look at the steam engines...
....like this showman's engine that would have been used to tow fairground rides from town to town and then to power the roundabouts and big wheels.
There's an awful lot of cleaning and polishing involved in keeping such huge machines in tip-top condition. There were also some smaller representatives of the brotherhood of steam....
These are often home-built by enthusiasts who may spend years on a project. They work just like the real thing and are correct in every detail. Some are even based on plans of machines that have not survived the intervening decades.
Where to next?
Commercial vehicles from the past are well represented. There were also plenty of vintage cars and motorcycles on display.
All this shininess is hard for the photographer to resist, even if some onlookers think you're crazy!
Fish and chips are difficult to pass by too, especially when served from a converted London Transport bus. You can even go upstairs to eat if you want.
After eating you might like to wander around some of the stalls...
…..where all that rustiness calls out to be photographed, if not purchased.
It's amazing what some people will sell - and buy!
These stylish figures were part of one of the fairground organs that were pumping out their jolly music across the site. I always get home wishing I'd taken more close-ups of these ornate creations, maybe one day I will.
Over in one corner of the showground there was a demonstration of road-making machinery, some of the workers labouring much harder than others.
Abel's World Wide Furniture Removals brought several vehicles of differing ages, but I was rather taken with this splendid bicycle - though I'm not sure how much furniture you could move world-wide with such a machine!
(there were also lots of heavy horses there, but nobody wants to see them, do they?) 😉