The first Steam Festival was held on the 18th and 19th of August at the Weald and Downland Museum, Singleton and attracted 20 full sized steam engines and a good selection of models of all shapes and sizes. The setting could not have been better for the opportunity to take some really good timeless pictures.
The selection of engines was first class, including Arthur Thompson’s Fowler showmans “Lion”, Gerald Whittaker’s unique Wallis and Steevens Convertible “Mistress”, a full compliment of engines from the Lugg/Russell stable and the superheated Garrett traction “Olive”.
The theme was supposed to be engines at work, or at least that is what we were told when entering Victoria. This was partially correct as there were two engines sawing in the woods and Lion was generating in the fair but this was the sum of the actual work.
Later, a pair of ploughing engines gave a demonstration of mole ploughing in the middle of the exhibition field which was, in our opinion rather risky, (especially in view of the fact that the organiser insisted on any moving engine being escorted by a man with a red flag). The ploughing demo was not fenced off and was so close to the exit from the arena that an engine was forced to drive over the rope to get out!
The rain curse of the 2007 season affected the event making the main field very wet but the engines were able to steam around the various hard roads on the site much to the delight of those brave members of the public that attended.
From a visitors point of view, we are sure that this was a very good event but, from an exhibitors perspective it could have been better. Communication from the organiser was very poor, almost non existent in some cases, which led to a frustrating weekend. Those exhibiting models were expected to camp in a field that was not even on the rally site, had no water or toilets and had just been vacated by a herd of cows, not the best way to treat exhibitors and many told us that they would not be returning.
Singleton Steam Festival has the potential to become a good event, the organiser just has to remember that without exhibits he has no show, and should treat them accordingly.