On the 2nd of June we decided to journey over to deepest Sussex and visit the Hadlow Down rally at Tinkers Park, an event that has been going for 42 years but was new to us. After finding the site, we parked the car and paid our entrance fee. We were immediately met with 4 or 5 engines parked just inside the gate, several of which had just arrived and were stopped outside the beer tent where the crews were refreshing themselves.
Looking at the programme revealed that 43 engines were expected but we could only see a dozen or so at first glance, so we continued our exploration. The field was not very large and sloped uphill with a small arena at the top, another field led off of the first and it was here that we found the rest of the steam section. The second field was more sloping than the first and all the engines were parked head up against a hedge very close together so it was very difficult to take any photos. It seemed that space was at a premium as the engines living vans were also parked tightly side by side with no room for the usual paraphernalia such as tents, gazebos and cars. The remainder of this field contained the car, commercial, military and tractor sections as well as the market arranged down the hill.
We found our spot beside the arena ready for the engine parade and waited with interest to see just how they were all going to get to the arena let alone get in it, as by this time the ground was packed with visitors but, at just before one o?clock things started to happen and a steady stream of steamers began to make their way to the arena unassisted. Due to the sloping ground and the rain of the previous day, difficulty was experienced by some engines but eventually almost 50 machines were shoe-horned into the tiny space which was an impressive sight.
Later in the day some engines returned to the arena for games such as invitation steering, an activity greatly appreciated by the public if the number of volunteers were anything to go by.
Hadlow Down is an old, well established event which has almost outgrown its site. Things are now packed too close together a fact that detracts from the marvellous selection of exhibits and means that visitors cannot fully appreciate what?s on show, it must also make life uncomfortable for exhibitors, particularly when trying to move about. Perhaps, sometimes, bigger is not always better.