At the beginning of the 2010 season Burrell showmans engine “Lady Pride of England” returned to Hampshire from its recent home in Worcestershire to be rallied for a season on the fields of Hampshire and Sussex, I say returned to Hampshire as it lived and was restored in that county from 1989 until her owner moved to Worcestershire in 2001 taking his engine with him.
Due to the pressure of work and various other factors the engine was not rallied a great deal in recent years in the midlands so, it was agreed that it could return to the South coast for a year.
I have been involved with Lady since 1989 and felt very honoured that the owner, Keith Leadbeater, entrusted her care to me for a year, a task that would have been near impossible without the invaluable assistance of the Wakelin family.
So, the great day finally came and Lady arrived back in Hampshire being transported by lowloader straight to the Bill Targett rally site near Winchester. Here, Lloyd, Wendy, Jack, Harry and I prepared her for the rally on the following weekend, polishing and cleaning paintwork and brass ready for her return to public life.
Lady Pride of England is a 7nhp 3 speed showmans road locomotive built by Charles Burrell in 1904, in fact she is the first 7nhp showmans to be built by them, mounted on springs, fitted with a dynamo and lots of twisted brass she is a much different animal to Victoria.
Though all traction engines work on the same principle, some were designed for specific jobs, Victoria was built as an agricultural engine, spending her working life around the farms of Petersfield threshing and hauling but primarily as a source of power for farming machinery, travelling short distances between jobs. She was a very advanced engine for her day and extremely good at what she did, having a working career of almost 50 years.
Lady however was designed to spend a great deal more time on the road, hauling heavy fairground rides from town to town then generating the electricity to power the lights which illuminated the machine while at the fair, consequently, she is a more complicated design with a third, faster gear and compound cylinders for greater economy. Also, she is fitted with suspension on both front and rear axles to aid faster running and perhaps give the crew a bit of a better ride!
Steam men will tell you that all engines are different, they each have characters of their own and have good days and bad, varying moods equal to any horse, Victoria and Lady are no exception, entirely different to drive, each with their own little quirks and ways, what works on one does not necessarily work on the other..
Victoria, being a single cylinder agricultural and having no canopy is a joy to drive on the road, the driver and steersman have a good view of the highway and the world passes by with the minimum of fuss.
Lady is much bigger, has a dynamo in front of the smokebox and a large full length canopy so the crews vision is much more limited. She is faster which in itself creates more potential problems as everything happens much more quickly, and though has reasonable brakes, it is more difficult to stop. The crew have to concentrate a lot more on keeping the engine on the straight and narrow.
Even with all this to consider, there is something special about taking a large showmans engine on the road, it is a challenge but thrilling at the same time and creates a lot of interest from passers by. Motorists are divided in their opinion, depending whether the are in front or behind!
We believe in driving these engines whenever possible to and from events, that is where the challenge lies and in the past season, 2010, we have driven about 150 miles on Victoria and over 90 on Lady, quite something considering that the combined age of these two grand old ladies is 232 years old.
Luckily, Lady Pride of England will be staying in Hampshire for another year so will be travelling around the rally fields of the South with Victoria, Empress of India for the 2011 season so keep an eye out for us at events this summer. Kevin Lockyer (KL)