On Friday 19th. August we had planned to steam Victoria to the rally at Northchapel in West Sussex. We had spent a lot of time getting her cleaned up and in tip top shape for the 17 mile run to the rally, a journey that we were all looking forward to, so when we saw that it was raining ‘heavens hardest’ when we awoke early on the morning in question, we were rather dismayed. The rain continued and so we postponed our lighting up time while we went to look at the rally field. On arrival it became obvious that we were not going to be able to get into the field at Northchapel, it was so muddy that we thought we might not get the car out. Luckily, we did however and reached the reluctant decision that Victoria would not be going to the rally.
All was not lost though as earlier in the month we had been invited to attend a local fete on Saturday 20th which we had had to decline due to our entry to Northchapel but now we could go so arrangements were made with the organisers to arrive with Victoria at 1pm.
Saturday dawned fine and dry, the engine was steamed and the last few bits of brightwork were polished, Victoria was looking her best. We had recently found a new source of steam coal which we were keen to try and so far it was proving to be good, the acid test would be how it performed on the road.
After a quick run around the village, we set off to climb East Hill on our way to the fete at Clayton Court, Hill Brow. The hill is about a mile long with the road twisting and turning all the way to the top, the driver has to get his fire right at the bottom as he gets little chance to put any more on once he starts the climb, don’t want to risk leaking tubes..
The fire set, we attacked the hill pulling the living wagon, a load of about 3 tons. Victoria as always rose to the challenge, charging up the incline in fine style making plenty of steam all of the way up. The crews faces on reaching the summit said it all, they approved of the new coal. Clayton Court was reached at exactly 1 o’clock and camp was established. The afternoon was warm and sunny, people flocked into the fete and Victoria aroused much interest. At about 4.30 we left for home, the descent of East Hill being completed without incident. We had been really quite disappointed that we did not go to Northchapel rally but the excursion to Clayton Court had been very enjoyable and at last we had found a source of good steam coal, every cloud does have a silver lining.