The Steam Apprentice Weekend hosted by our Society took place at Old Warden Park over the weekend of 21st & 22nd April 2007. With the weather forecast sounding bleak, it was with surprise we woke up on Saturday morning to find the weather fine if a little on the dull side, but to everyone's joy by midday this had been replaced with glorious sunshine which was to remain with us all weekend. (Paul Worbey assures me that the committee had planned for this and the good weather was as expected)!
Saturday was scheduled as general driving day with the opportunity to drive and experience as many of the 13 engines and the several models as possible. At 10am on Saturday, some 95 Steam Apprentices of all ages and gender gathered for the introductory welcome and talk given by Paul, after which the apprentices split into groups and the fun began. Lunch was kindly provided for all involved by Ian Baxter-Pownall affectionately known to all as 'Hoggy', Ian not only provided the lunch but sponsored it as well. The 2006 club rally marked his occasion of 25 years of serving Hog Roasts at Club events! Tea, Coffee, Squash and Biscuits were provided throughout both days.
After a very busy Saturday, the day started to wind down, in front of Wendy Thompson's Foster Showman's Engine Number 14564 'Victoria' and Keith Honour's Howard and Page Fairground Organ, with the presentation of individual certificates for all of the apprentices taking part. To much amusement and applause, a special presentation of the driving day certificate was made to Society member Jim Willis. This was followed by a supervised steam up of Mamod and Wilesco models giving the committee a chance to clear up. Keith Honour kindly gave a demonstration of a Showman's Engine and Fairground Organ powered TV and VHS player by showing a copy of the 'Iron Maiden' We all agreed that this was a preferred, if somewhat expensive, method of providing power!
The committee and helpers were then able to 'unwind' and were treated to a relaxing evening in the company of 'Dr Busker'.
Sunday started at the earlier time of 8.30am with many of the apprentices already on the go. The apprentices undertook the raking out of the ash pans, cleaning the tubes, checking the water levels and lighting up the engines in preparation for the day's events.
Breakfast of bacon, sausages and eggs was then cooked on the shovels and supplemented by 'Hoggy' and was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
The apprentices then got busy oiling up and cleaning the engines. Boiler Management was the theme of the day for the older apprentices, whilst the younger members took part in general driving and a host of other activities including colouring, identification of parts and an excellent demonstration of how to make a wick for an oil reservoir.
The weekend drew to a close at around 3pm.
Engines attending were:
Foster Showman's Engine Number 14564 'Victoria' owned by Wendy Thompson, Fowell Traction Engines Numbers 91 & 92 owned by the Parrish family, Wallis & Stevens Expansion T.E. Number 8765 and Aveling Roller Number 11583 owned by Mark Smith and family, Marshall Traction Engine Number 76751 owned by Christine Haynes, driven by Russell Spry and cared for by the Worbey family, Clayton & Shuttleworth Traction Engine Number 43200 'The Gaffer' owned by Chris Griffiths, Fowler Road Locomotive Number 15467 'Sir Douglas' owned by the Philips family driven by Brian Hagan and Kevin Higgins, Fowler Traction Engine Number 14012 'Lord of the Isles' owned by Michael Maskell, Marshall Number 36258 'Punch' owned by Michael Watts, Spider Prototype Mk 2 Steam Lorry owned by John Kilgour, Ransomes, Simms & Jefferies owned by John Forshaw Jnr, Aveling and Porter Convertible Tractor Number 6319 'Queen of Hearts' owned by Jonathan Vickery, Aveling & Porter Roller Number 4604 'Mona' owned by Paul & Ian Vickery and Sunday Only, Fowler Hercules Style Tractor Number 16854 owned by P. Norton driven by Geoff Scott-Coomber. Keith Honour's Howard and Page Fairground Organ provided musical entertainment throughout the weekend. Shaun Pearce was present with his 4-inch Burrell Road Locomotive. Michael Maskell also bought along his two 6-inch scale Foden C Type Wagons that added to the enjoyment enormously. Also present was the Farmers Foundry Portable from the Saunders' Collection along with a firebox, boiler and tube plate allowing the apprentices an insight rarely seen outside of the workshop.
This was the first Steam Apprentice Weekend I had attended and after the initial shock of being appointed an instructor for the early part of Sunday with Marshall 76751 I couldn't help but reflect how well behaved and good mannered the Steam Apprentices had been for the duration of the weekend. A very pleasant change for this day and age and a strong indication of the benefits of providing today's youth with a hobby they enjoy!
Congratulations to our Society for funding the weekend, this is the only Steam Apprentice event where the Apprentices do not pay any administration costs.