For the third year, the 2011 Bill Targett Memorial Steam and Vintage rally was held at Matterley Farm just outside Winchester, though this year it was in a different field. Luckily the weather was kind to the organisers which encouraged quite a good visitor attendance.
There were 38 full sized steam engine entries listed in the programme which represented a comprehensive selection of makes and types including 3 showman’s road locos, 2 ploughing engines, 4 steam wagons including 2 rarities, namely a Clayton and Shuttleworth and a Ransomes, 5 steam tractors, 11 agricultural engines and 13 rollers. It was a shame however that the steam exhibits could not be properly appreciated due to their position on the field.
This years site was a shallow u shape with the steam engines at one end of the u at the top of a slope, their available space was severely limited forcing them to park very close together and with their fronts facing uphill thus presenting their backs to the public. The whole impression was very jumbled with engines, caravans and cars parked this way and that making any photography by visitors very difficult. With such a good selection of steam exhibits this lack of thought in the organisation stage was very disappointing for all concerned.
A play pen has been included for the last 3 years for heavy haulage demonstrations, this year a large derelict American traction engine on an ex Pickford’s trailer provided the load. At random times during the weekend engines dragged this loaded trailer up and around the sloping pen and it must be said that it was more for the enjoyment of the exhibitors then the public as there were not that many people watching. Perhaps the demonstrations would be better received in the main arena at scheduled times during the day.
Other categories of exhibit were well supported, cars, commercials, tractors etc and there were several working demonstrations including the Bicknell family with their steam powered sawmill.
In our opinion, the rally lacked organisation and the field was poorly laid out. Putting the steam engines up and over a slope was not a good idea. Insufficent space was allowed for them which forced them to be far too closely packed together making it uncomfortable for the exhibitors and unsatisfactory for the paying public. If there had been rain, chaos would have been guaranteed.
It is a shame that since moving to Matterley Farm, the club has been unable to get it right and has lost the old fashioned laid back atmosphere that was so prevalent at the old site at Brambridge. Let us hope that lessons will be learnt for future events.