When the whistles from a dozen steam engines let go their triumphant signature blast at dead on 11.00am, Abergavenny will know that this Sunday and Monday is Steam Rally weekend in Bailey Park once again.
There will be few visitors to the Park who are old enough to remember when steam engines were a common sight on the roads, in factories and farms. They were the giant workhorses who took their place in the rapid development of Britain’s industrial age. These machines were exported all over the world, but now a source of wonder when found in some far-flung holiday resort, sometimes still building roads, hauling loads.
The dedicated men and women who look after the steamers which will grace Bailey Park this weekend spend all their ‘leisure’ time looking after the giants, keeping them polished, their brasswork gleaming, a tribute to a forgotten age.
The organisers say there is something for everyone at the Steam Rally and that is certainly true. Up on the rugby pitch between the posts are the classic cars, most British from when we had a car industry, but quite a few interesting foreigners as well. Often heard is the cry “Ooh, remember when we had one of those? Wonder what happened to it?”
Then there are motor-bikes, tractors, commercial and military vehicles, even one mighty truck, at the time the biggest recovery vehicle in South Wales and South West England, now retired, which will come up from Newport with a petrol consumption of five gallons to a mile. Petrol was cheap in those days.
Take some time to look at the stationary engines. They puff and clank away, watched proudly by their owners, sitting in deckchairs behind, occasionally stirring to squirt some oil into a belching Lister-Petter whose glory days might have been on a farm or factory, now restored to perfection.
There are steam organs, a miniature steam train, a children’s area and dozens of stalls with a fascinating array of goods you didn’t know you couldn’t live without. A Welsh love spoon anyone? Or how about a steering wheel from a long-forgotten Jaguar? It’s all here.
There will be a full programme of events in the arena, with Shire Horses, a dog display team, parades of vehicles and a death-defying motor-cycle stunt team. And be sure to look out for the special tug of war, between a mighty steam engine and hundreds of children.
But the show has moved with the times. The new ticketing system, introduced last year is proving a success with advance ticket discounts and electronic payments. Pay a visit to the show website, www.Abergavennysteamrally.co.uk to find out how to make a saving on the entry price.
The Rally is run by Abergavenny Rotary Club with the enthusiastic help of a band of volunteers. Because of this willing hard work by people who want to make the show a success, the money raised for mostly local good causes has increased year on year. Among the organisations which have benefitted are Longtown Mountain Rescue, Blood Bikes Wales, Borough Band, Scouts and Guides, and a host of youth sporting clubs.
The Rotary Club is always looking for new members, who are willing to put back into the town. If you would like to help at the steam rally which raises thousands of pounds for local clubs, organisations and people in need, if you want to support your community and meet and socialise with a new group of friends, why not call in at Rally Control and find out more?
There is always something new and different to marvel at, which is why so many local people as well as visitors from far and wide make a yearly date to come to the show. Only the weather can put a dampener on the two days, but after a late spring the long-term weather forecast is looking good, so the confident forecast is ‘don’t forget your sun hat and leave the umbrella at home’.
If you are coming by car, the show car park will be signed from the outskirts of town, and organisers are grateful for the help of the Leisure Centre and Thursdays Football Club for their help with the site.
“The Rally is unique in that it is held in a park in the centre of town,” said Rally Organiser David Hassall. “On the one hand this means that we have a tight area to work in, but on the other it means that every spare bit of ground is used. It is quite something to walk round, moving past a stage with dancing can-can girls, to tractors and vintage motor-bikes and that’s just in the first hundred yards, with cars crafts, and goodness knows what else. The show is exciting, noisy and a treat for all the senses, why don’t you make the effort to come along? You won’t be disappointed.”