The well- known and popular Chalk Pits Museum at Amberley, West Sussex, staged a new event in August of 2011 combining steam engines, Victoriana and a fairground.
The Victorian Weekend and Fairground at night held on the 6th and 7th of August was blessed with fine weather and well supported with interesting exhibits.
Six full size steam engines were present, 2 traction engines, 1 roller, 1 steam tractor, a Fowler crane engine and a Burrell showman’s engine, all of which spent their time chuffing around the museums road network. It is unusual in this day and age for organisers to encourage full size machines to drive around at will and unescorted by “yellow jackets”, but it is a popular part of any Amberley event both with exhibitors and visitors.
Queen Victoria opened proceedings at lunchtime on Saturday arriving in an open horse drawn carriage then having an impromptu walkabout worthy of the modern Royal family. Ordinary mortals had the opportunity to travel in regal splendour as Her Majesty’s carriage offered rides for the rest of the weekend.
The fair was located in two areas of the site, small side shows and stalls just inside the main gate and larger machines including Harris’s Gallopers in the “white pit” next to the road making gallery.
Many of the exhibitors joined the staff in dressing in Victorian style which added greatly to the atmosphere.
For a first event, this weekend seemed a popular hit and will hopefully become a regular feature on the Amberley calendar. KL