09 October 2009
We finished our visitor season in a puff of smoke, with 10 traction engines, steam rollers and wagons on parade and in steam, of course, in the Courtyard. It was a good display, and it was good to see a Herefordshire Council steam roller, which I remember working in the 1960s, in the line up.
Three engines were from the Eastnor collection, with the roller which we still use from time to time on the estate roads and the Foden steam tractor I restored in the 1970s. There was even a Foden wagon that had gone to repair roads behind the lines in the 1st World War and stayed on afterwards, with the convenience of having been built with left-hand drive.
The day before, the drivers lit their fires and had a road run to the Farmer’s Arms in Castlemorton, involving a challenging climb and descent over the Malvern Hills, but with more than adequate refreshment for the men at their destination-and water for the engines.
We had over 600 visitors on the Sunday, and everyone seemed to appreciate the friendly and informal atmosphere. A few years ago, we were lucky enough to get Fred Dibnah to meet the visitors, and there were long queues for his autograph and the chance to hear his inimitable tones first hand. He was a great enthusiast for old machines, steam and old houses, not to mention fine ale, and did much to explain to a wider audience the interest and appeal of this part of the heritage. He is much missed, but, of course, the TV programmes he made which included Eastnor keep his memory alive. JH-B