Our annual vintage weekend, which this year included a celebration of the 100th birthday of our Ransomes traction engine, went well, attracting about 4000 visitors over 2 days. It was a different crowd from the Chilli festival, with many local families turning up whose grandparents and even parents could remember seeing some of the exhibits in their earlier working lives. As we had a nice gathering of original Minis, you did not have to be very old to have seen them running about in their original condition.
There were 2 steam wagons and quite a few steam rollers. We had a hand-driven juvenile carousel – the owner and wheel turner was an impressive 70 years old, but the ride was older. I also exhibited my showman’s van, and it attracted a lot of attention as I allowed the visitors to look around inside and the stove was alight. The tug-of-war proved popular, though the engine at the end of the rope seemed more resistant to slipping on the courtyard gravel and so did rather better than the human team in the end.
A more permanent attraction is our Land Rover Little Off Roaders circuit in the old Kitchen Garden near the visitor entrance. The Land Rovers are battery powered and can be turned off remotely in case of need. They are one or two wheel drive and useful for steering and braking training, if not speed management. The circuit does not have the usual challenges of mud and ruts, but is proving popular nevertheless, and we are lucky that Land Rover itself has sponsored the facility and the vehicles. One day, perhaps, they will be vintage too, but in the meantime they are available to ride most weekends at a small extra cost.
JHB 22nd June 2015