Because of a clash with the point-to-point meetings at the Horseheath Racecourse, the Thurlow rally had to change dates this year and move back a week from its traditional first weekend in August, but it didn’t seem to affect the attendance. There were a few other changes as well, both to the layout and also entry arrangements which saw a fenced-off car-park separate to the main show field.
This year the steam engines ranged up directly opposite the main ring which was much better than the higgledy-piggledy arrangement of trade stands which have been there in the past. The displaced trade stands found themselves behind the small fair-ground facing the vintage vehicles with the rest behind the craft tents facing the tractors. The tractors faced away from the stationary engines instead of towards them as in previous years.
Other than the miniature steam, which were pitched between the full-size steam and the start of the barn engines, there were very few other model or bygone displays on show. However, the electric model Caterpillar, scraper and mole-drainer was my favourite exhibit of the weekend, closely followed by Smith’s of Linton commercial vehicle collection. A pair of Bedford TKs, one in use as a catering van, were joined by a pair of Ford vans, a Thames or Anglia 307E and a Mk II Escort, plus a GMC and Chevrolet pick-up trucks, all splendidly restored.
The commercial vehicle section was in general the healthiest in years with examples of Bedford, AEC, Foden, Scammell, Peterbilt, Kenworth, BMC, Ford, Commer, Shelvoke & Drewry, Atkinson, Austin & Landrover, as well as a handful of buses attending on Sunday, including Bedfords, Bristol & AEC. The cars included the Sunday rendezvous of Austin Princess limousines (and hearses) in addition to the more ordinary classic models, but even these included a rare Hudson and a trio of mid-50s Vauxhalls.
The tractor lime-up was pretty comprehensive of British & American marques, with examples of Northrop, David Brown, Nuffield, Ford & Fordson, Ferguson & Massey Ferguson representing the UK and Farmall, Minneapolis Moline, Allis Chalmers & International representing the USA. Other examples included an Oppermann Motocart, Worthington Model T (similar to a Pattinson) conversion and a selection of horticultural machines.
The days of the multitude of grey Wolseley stationary engines are long gone at Thurlow, now one can see a multitude of open crank horizontal engines. Fairbanks Morse, Jaeger, Ruston, Bamford, Amanco, Waterloo Boy, Bentall and Crossley horizontals were all on show, as well as the more common domestic vertical engines such as Lister, Petter, Ruston, etc.
Lastly, the steam engine section provided the usual mix of steam rollers, tractors, traction engines, road locomotives, showmen’s engines and steam lorries, with almost two dozen listed in the programme. As remarked a couple of years ago, this section offers a representative mix of different makes including Aveling & Porter, Aveling Barford, Wallis & Steevens, Burrell, Clayton & Shuttleworth, Foster, Fowler, Garrett, Ransomes Sims & Jefferies, Ruston Proctor, Marshall, Sentinel & Foden, which I make (unlucky) thirteen, ironic as No. 13 is listed as No Entry in the programme, in accordance with old-time superstition.
Although no amounts are mentioned, the rally indicates that the East Anglian Air Ambulance, St Nicholas Hospice, Macmillan Cancer Unit & Rainbow Children’s Ward at West Suffolk Hospital, and the Motor Neurone Disease Association have all benefited from donations in recent years.