We have held small steam rallies at Eastnor for some time, organised by Bob Hayter, the estate joiner; they are still popular with visitors of all ages, if slightly preferred by men and boys. We invite a number of local engine and other vintage vehicle owners to bring their machines to the courtyard and encourage them to invite visitors to inspect them at close quarters, making sure they do not burn themselves on hot pipes etc. Anthony Brandt gave rides in his Stanley Steam car, which runs almost noiselessly compared to the modern equivalent, though Satnav is not a feature.
The Aveling & Porter steam roller in the foreground of the image is unusual in that it still belongs to Herefordshire Council, though it was retired in the 1960’s. As a boy, I remember seeing it sheeted up for the night on the Ledbury-Bromyard road, the fire banked up and ready for an early start the next day, so it is good to see it still in working order and cared for by an enthusiast. We had two other rollers on display, and three traction engines, one of which, a Foden, had been repatriated from Tasmania before restoration.
After one of our visiting traction engines broke down and another went home after the first day, I decided to bring out my showman’s living van to supplement the display. It dates from the 1920’s and belonged to the Connell family, who were based in the West Midlands. It is smaller than many, with a living room with Hostess coal stove and bed room, with narrow and short double bunk. I had it repainted and decorated by John Pocket, although it is now in need of a repaint despite a sheltered life in a shed. However, it proved a very popular exhibit, and visitors appreciated the unspoilt interiors panelled with American walnut and my set of almost vintage enamel crockery.
We will invite more engines and exhibits next year, and I hope my own Foden tractor will be back in action with its new boiler. We were delighted that we had 3000 visitors over the two days.
JH-B 2nd June 2013
We have had a long association with steam engines at Eastnor. We bought our first steam roller to work on the estate roads in 1967 and we still have one today, which this summer rolled a restored track to one of the Big Chill car parks. We have held open days with our own and visiting engines for the last ten years, usually with a road run at the end of the day. Many were attended by the late Fred Dibnah, steeplejack and broadcaster.
This year, we had a smaller event, with about 15 engines visiting and quite a few working models. We kept it informal, with visitors able to look closely at the engines and also ride on a model steam railway, visiting from the Broomy Hill Museum in Hereford. Two Stanley steam cars and a steam-powered baker’s van joined the display, moving in a silent and mysterious way with only a puff of steam at the exhaust to show how it was happening.
It was a great day, with the air filled with the old fashioned smells of coal and hot oil and the sounds of a local brass band. We welcomed over 900 visitors, which was a strong finish for our visitor season.