musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Austin

Tewkesbury Mini-steam Weekend 2016

This morning I headed off to the Tewkesbury Mini-steam weekend held at the Tewkesbury Rugby Club grounds. This is the 2nd time I have attended this event, and I cannot believe that I have been in this town now for over a year. The event is held by the Model Steam Road Vehicle Society and showcases some of the smaller versions of the steam traction engines that are so popular around the country.

Last year was great, and while I did not do a blogpost I did showcase some of the images in my gallery. Unfortunately today the weather was not great and the sky changed colour quite a few times during my visit, and at one point it was even drizzling. But, steam is steam! let the steaming begin.

2017 can be found on it’s own page.

I arrived early (as usual) and did the rounds, looking for interesting steamers worthy of a second look. There was a really nice collection of vintage vehicles on show, and in my book the Ford Zephyr was tops until the Morris dropside van came along.

I was however not here for the cars. I was here for the steamers!

ministeam 024

So many distractions!

As I was saying, the accent in this event is not on full size traction engines, but on smaller half/quartersixth sized ones. Do not be mistaken by the size though, those small machines are working replicas of the real things, and they are not made of plastic. 

This early in the morning steam was being raised and brasses polished and bunkers were being filled. 

And of course the gubbins had to be adjusted too, now if only we knew where the gubbins actually was.

And as the morning wore on more steamers were waking up and steaming across the grass, smoking from the long extensions in their chimneys, while some just stood around smoking!

The steam wagons are interesting vehicles, and they do present a different set of challenges to the operator. 

 

Unlike last year when there was some sort of grand parade, I did not see one advertised this year, or not for the period that I had scheduled for my visit. Like it or not, I was not keen to hang around here the whole day, especially with drizzles coming and going. You can bet though, the moment I was out of earshot the grand parade commenced. 

I was also very impressed by the way the whole family gets roped into the occasion, and even the dog has a go.

Now remember, one bark means left, two barks means right! 

These machines were never built for speed though, they belong to a very different age, and of course age group. But it is good to see many youngsters and women participating in driving and keeping the machine in peak condition. 

These machines do not come cheap, and many have been in the family for a long time, They are more of an investment as opposed to a toy.

I have to admit Maud (image beneath) was a stunning machine with a fair turn of speed too. She is based on a JH McLaren machine. 

While the beauty beneath is based on a Wm Allchin Ltd Machine

To me though the best machine had to be the 15 Ton crane, 

There is definitely something dignified about these machines, whether is it the almost silent running of the machine in neutral, or the slow almost waddling gait as they pass by.

These are the machines that make small children point and get excited over, and which older men like me look at wistfully. Like their cousins that run on rails, they are machines from a different era, but they still have the ability to turn heads. Such are the machines of legend.

Random images from the cutting room floor.

© DRW 2016-2017. Created 25/06/2015

Updated: 24/06/2017 — 15:32

A Mini Minor with two flat tyres

Like so many young boys I always made the assumption that when I grew up I would own a car, even though we did not have a car in our family. Unlike many boys I did not dream about having the biggest, fastest and most macho car around, I dreamt about having a Mini.

Way back then the Mini was just one of an array of British, and to an extent Australian vehicles that were available on the South African market. The big Japanese and German car makers had not made that large an impact on the locals with the models on offer. For some reason I wanted a Mini and nothing less! On my daily trips by bus to primary school I would avidly keep an eye open for them and count them; with 5 probably being the norm, and 10 the exception. The part of town where I lived was not a rich area and there were more second hand cars in Mayfair than there are in Jeppe Street (Jeppe Street eventually became the hub of dodgy used car lots).

Wind forward to the point where I could theoretically qualify to learn to drive and I never did. Public transport was available, and I did not really need one, and again, our family did not own a car, so I did not come from a car owning culture. All that changed in 1989 when my aunt passed away and I decided that the time had come to learn to drive. I bought a very battered 15th hand 1974 VW Beetle Lux Bug and it ended up hanging around for a year in the underground parking of the building where I lived while I learnt to drive.

I got my license in 1990 and spent the next few years paying for repairs for that dieing Beetle which I disposed of in 1997. 

What happened to my dream of having a Mini? The Mini was no longer manufactured by then, in fact one of my workmates had amongst the last Leyland Minis around, and by then I recognised that it was not the ideal car, although it still stirred something in me. When he sold it I was very tempted to buy it off him, but it had an oil leak so decided against it. 

Amongst my few surviving childhood toys is a Matchbox Mini which was released in 1970,  and which spent most of its life in the display cabinet at home. It is a very old model now, and worth nothing except to me.

Matchbox series 29, "Racing Mini" (1970)

Matchbox series 29, “Racing Mini” (1970)

 In fact I have more than one Mini model, 

 

and of course when I see one I am drawn to photograph it. In the UK they are not as rare as in South Africa, so opportunities abound. They do command a steep price now, but I do recognise that it is not the perfect car as it does lack many of the items that I look for in a vehicle: reliability, safety, air conditioning, cost of insurance, comfort etc. If I could pick up one in a good condition at a good price I would consider it, but that is unlikely.  So, I will just have to enjoy other people’s Mini’s along the way.

 
     

And finally, in June 2016 I saw this half Mini at the London Science Museum. It was really quite quirky.

© DRW 2016-2017. Created 17/05/2016. More Minis added 02/08/2016

Updated: 12/03/2017 — 08:29

Visiting Brooklands Museum in Weybridge – Everything else

Carrying on from the first part….

I was now ready to “see everything else”, because Brooklands was not only a hub for aviation, but also a hub for motor racing. It is also home to the London Bus Museum. When the track opened in 1907 it was the world’s second purpose-built motorsport track, it was also the first purpose-built banked motor race circuit in the world. 
  
There are a number of features of the old race track on the site, and it must have really been something to experience in its heyday. Unfortunately I am not a car buff, so I really did not appreciate it as much as  dedicated motorsport enthusiast would. 
  
The old club house building is spectacular, although for some reason I thought it was part of the airfield. Right next to the clubhouse is the building with the Stratosphere Chamber, and this was yet another Barnes Wallis project.  It is a mammoth machine, and it must have sounded even better.

There were also a number of interesting aircraft engines there, including the iconic Merlin.

 
 Now if only somebody had put one of those in a racing car!
 
The Munchkins were still following me around so I headed off to take a look at some of the classic cars on display in the Malcolm Campbell Shed. Now I must admit my dream car is probably one of those great big green open top Bentleys with large headlights. But I did see a few oldies here that I liked, that three wheeled  Morgan was especially nice.
 
There is also a display of vintage motorbikes and an interesting Raleigh cycle display. To my amusement one of the cycles on display was a Raleigh Chopper! These come from my childhood and these were THE bike to ride (and fall off from), but alas I ended up with a sensible Raleigh Rapier and was not not the doyen of the playground after all. This particular example is dated 1979 (and is probably worth a lot of money).

 
I was curious to see what some of the items on the map were so headed to the area where parts of the old racing circuit were, the hill was horribly steep too, and I was bushed by the time I got to the top. But what a surprise it was to see this remnant of an era gone by… 

 

The next time I am here this is one area I do want to investigate. The one thing about this museum is that there is a lot to see, and I had really only breezed through a lot of it. I really needed to revisit the Concorde, and investigate some of the other exhibits in the Wellington Hanger, I also missed the museum shop, and of course I wanted to take a better look at those olde racing cars and vehicles. There are also a number of period buildings on the site that are interesting in their own right, and they are worth investigating too. 

 

 

There were also a few olde vehicles that amused me parked outside, and if anything you could have probably have found similar ones like this in South Africa way back when.
My time was almost up and I started to head towards the station, a quick pass by the Hawker Hunter to photograph the Supermarine Swift Fuselage, 

 
And then I was on my way, leaving this really nice museum behind. It had been a very enjoyable trip, and one which I would make again if I get the chance. The London Bus Museum pics I will paste under a separate post. 
 
 
 
© DRW 2015-2017. Images migrated 25/04/2016
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:48
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