Saturday, 13 August 2022

Steam rally attracts record crowd

Steam rally attracts record crowd

A RECORD 10,000 people attended this year’s Stoke Row Steam and Vintage Rally.

The event was held over two days in a field in Whitchurch Hill belonging to Richard Hazell, the owner of the neighbouring Sun Inn.

Almost 400 classic and vintage vehicles were on display, including steam and stationary engines, tractors, vans and lorries, cars, motorcycles and military vehicles.

There were also five steam engines and tractors belonging to Mr Hazell, who also owns Tarmac firm Hazell & Jefferies.

The exhibits also included Arfur, a 12-tonne 1930 Fowler road roller owned by Darren Marcham, from Woodcote, and a 1974 half-size Allchin engine belonging to Guy Champion, from Sonning Common.

New attractions included a display of 70 timber vehicles which performed cutting and loading displays in the main arena.

Other local exhibitors included Nick Sanders, Jeremy, Danni and Michelle Callan, Roger Akers, Geoff and Carol Pratt and Alan and Barry Thatcher, from Woodcote, Jim Boness, from Henley, Peter Parnell, Christopher Tappin and James Merritt, from Benson, Norman Bollon, from Checkendon, Frederick and Martin Goddard, from Goring Heath, John Bagnell, from Whitchurch Hill, Matt Greenaway, from Ipsden, Martyn Sheldrake, from Binfield Heath, Jo Moodie, from Chazey Heath, Colin Reynolds, from Emmer Green, Alan Briant, Richard Stimpson and Gordon Williams, from Caversham, Winnie Gyngell, from Sonning Common, David Avery, from Mapledurham, Andy Austin, from Kidmore End, and Bruce Honey and Phil Dyer, from Dunsden.

The craft marquee was enlarged and there were 40 trade stalls as well as food stands, a dance stage with live music and a beer tent.

Reading scouts ran a climbing wall and there were also fairground rides, inflatables, a petting zoo, working animal displays, Morris and clog dancing, pottery workshops, scale models of railways and lorries, a Wild West history show and hand-turned street organs.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight performed a flypast.

A share of the proceeds went to the Sue Ryder hospice at Nettlebed, whose volunteers held bucket collections. The rally, now in its 36th year, used to be held at Stoke Row until it outgrew its old site and moved first to Ipsden and then Whitchurch Hill in 2013.

Organiser Tony Waistell said: “It was very popular this year and one of the best shows we’ve ever had. The hot weather brought loads of people out and at its busiest the crowds were three-deep around the main arena.

“From the feedback I’ve received, people have been saying it was the show to go to this summer, which is obviously great to hear.

“We don’t know the exact figures yet but it was coming up to 5,000 visitors on each day.

“Everyone on the committee did a great job. We’re all pretty tired now but it’s a great community event and always worth the effort.”

Next year’s rally will take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 9 and 10.

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