If you’re an old Dorset hand, you probably already know that the best day out in the County is the Great Dorset Steam Fair. But just in case you don’t, this blog is for you. Charlie and I went yesterday – our third visit, and we love it more and more each time.
The sea of caravans parked in the arrival fields shows the sheer scale of the event. Bearing in mind that that other West Country 5 day summer festival, Glastonbury, which every two years hosts the same number of people as the Dorset Steam Fair, merits back to back coverage in every single newspaper, across Radio 4, and most of our media, I’ve always felt a little intrigued that for some strange reason this huge, magical, mystical clash of so many worlds never even gets a mention. I suppose that’s life. The media isn’t always very interested in what’s really going on out there, is it? So much to look at, immediately on arrival, from Vape stalls…. To a huge steam rally in the grand Arena. So many fantastic costumes and outfits. Within seconds, you plunge into the displays. Late 19th and Early 20th century roadworking demonstrations.
Completely astonishing re-enactment camps for WW1 and WW2, of real beauty and complexity.
The queue to get into the WW1 trench demonstration was massive. It stretched on like this for miles. The trenches looked amazingly complex and huge. I’m not surprised so many people wanted to have a look. The cook’s cafe. The WW2 Centurion tank was a huge attraction. Steam display in the main arena. Lovely real shepherd huts. Quiet corners.
Spots for an ice cream. Toys and Fidgets. Junk shops. Shark balloons. Dinky Donuts. Vintage Cars. Hot boys and happy boys. Everyone having the best time. Punch and Judy. Tea & Cake, Toasties. The famous Rose’s Tea in Mugs. More shepherd’s huts. Andy Lane’s wonderful collection of dug bottles. Tractor community. Tractors pulling very very heavy things was a big draw. The one we were watching broke its gearbox moments after I took this shot. The Morris 1000 Commercial community. South Wilts Agricultural Preservation Society. Yes please. The best tent. I have a friend who is a very well known landscape architect who makes the claim that vegetarians fart a lot more than meat eaters, and that the methane that everyone goes on about from cows is just displaced into that coming from vegetarian humans. Is this true? Well, I just looked it up on the internet. Make of the answers what you will, but depending on your opinion you will like these old posters. The historical bicycle tent contains something I’ve never actually seen…. A Sinclair C5. Clive Sinclair passed away earlier this year. RIP Clive. Choppers community area. All ages are here, All sizes, All life. Persons of a soft nature are advised to watch before riding:
More my scene. The beautiful expression of the operator.
Are these two grandfather and grandson, holding their arms in an identical way, unwittingly? The Famous Gavioli Organ. By late afternoon it was all getting too much for some. A last look at the magnificent arena. An interesting commentary, at that moment, should you be interested, on the infinitesimally small amount of coal the entire British Heritage sector burns each year – but a fascinating insight into how they are trying still to reduce the amount of coal burned and to reduce the carbon footprint of events like this. Maybe the commentary box had a point about trying to get America and China to reduce dependence on coal, first? And then we were home.
Normal service resumes. But I can’t tell you how much I adore every part of the Great Steam Fair. Just for a start, it’s good to see a vast number of people having that one thing that we don’t seem to quite be allowed to have anymore… FUN. Let’s make that our mission for the rest of the year, as we climb the Helter skelter and hurtle down into September, new notebooks in hand. Let’s remember to have fun.