Write up - 2009 - Dorset Steam Fair

Sue Virgin, the Senior Safety Officer at Dorset County Council and the ex-Secretary of this Group invited us – the car Group and the then motorcycle Section – to take part in the Great Dorset Steam Fair.  Dorset County Council had paid for a space at the Steam Fair using their Road Safety budget, and we were to be part of a Safety Village.  I attended a meeting which was fortuitous in the fact that it was at sunny Winfrith where I work – in the very building!  The other participants were the Highways Agency, Ambulance, Fire and Police Services.  Our bikers wanted to display a bike, but I was advised that this would not be possible.  My ears pricked up, however, when a bike simulator was mentioned.   Without any persuasion from me, they agreed that our bikers could have it and contact details were promptly exchanged.  A crash car was also planned if they could obtain one without paying the earth for it.  Seems crash cars for free are more difficult to come by now.


I arranged for IAM House to let me have some goodies – or a Show Pack as it is called!  I also mentioned that old Advanced Driving Magazines would be welcome.  Within 2 days of asking 2 great big parcels arrived and the next day – a box of Advanced Driving Magazines.  How’s that for service!  We were all set.


Anyway, Tuesday 1st September dawned – it didn’t shine – in fact it looked rather overcast and a bit windy.  We had bought an EasiUp gazebo with plain back, window sides and zipped front 18 months ago, but it had never been out of the box.  Now was its chance to shine even if the sun didn’t.  Brian Purnell, Secretary of the motorcycle Section, my husband, Barry and I were the set-up team, whilst the other car committee members saw to the first of our Lecture Evenings.  We arrived around lunch time at the Show Ground at Tarrant Hinton and found the pitch we were allocated across from the Main Ring.  Quite gobsmacked really, as it was enormous!  Looked like half a field to me.  The EasiUp is supposed to be assembled and then secured.  That is all very well if the weather is nice and calm!  No such luck!  There were the 3 of us struggling to erect this EasiUp without it blowing away straight off across the site.  Nothing else for it, we had to secure it first!!  Acquiring a 4th person to help us made this much easier.


We left the assembled EasiUp with trepidation around 5pm, still windy and intermittently rainy.


However, over the next 5 days, the EasiUp proved its worth.  We could never have taken part without it.  It stood up – literally – to everything that week, and the bonus was it was bright red – you could see it from most parts of the 600 acre site!  Gordon and Matt had the worst of the weather on the Wednesday as the rain and wind were relentless.  Barry and I did Thursday with David White aiding and abetting us in the morning.  Friday was Barry and I again;  this time with Jessie and Lyall arriving for the pm session.  Saturday saw Fiona McVey, Rosemary Lander and I there and the same on the Sunday.  Matt turned up in addition, on both Thursday and Sunday day (bless him) to see if he could help.  Probably to check that the EasiUp with us in it was still there!  Dismantling the EasiUp on Sunday afternoon was much easier as we had had the experience of putting it up wrongly!!  Still, you learn something new every day and the next time we use it I am sure it will live up to its name.


I know my attendance for 6 days was time consuming and tiring, but I can honestly say that it was well worth the effort.  We met a lot of really nice people from all over the Country, made great contacts with the members of the Services, and were kept quite busy.  I found the time went fast and before I knew it, the week was over.  The bike simulator proved a really good draw.  It was not a game, but a proper simulator by Honda.  There was a choice of 3 skill levels and 3 journey types.  The only thing it did not do was roll from side to side, but then, with the intermittent buffeting wind – who needed that!  The bike section will be using the simulator again as they found it a great asset.  Wonder if they have a car simulator?


The Steam Fair itself is well worth a visit.  The organisation involved in coping safely with such a large number of people and associated paraphernalia is second to none.  Entering and leaving the site with its myriad of entrances was very well controlled and done as quickly as possible with safety of paramount importance.  Yes, I would do it again.  I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.


Some time was also spent looking around some of the steam engines - well it would have been rude not to.  I am sure that the observant here will spot that this is the image used on the November 2009 newsletter cover.


In the main steam engine area, some people were lucky enough to get a "lift" on a small steam engine:



Finally, as part of a bird show this naughty bird decided it did not quite want to play, and flew off, straight over my head, and awaiting camera:



Additional images can be seen here and here.

Words: Jane Percy
Images: Matthew Ames


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