2018 - 50th Great Dorset Steam Fair


More steam engines than you could shake a stick at!! 500 for 50 was the theme of the 50th anniversary of the 2018 Great Dorset Steam Fair. They were brought in from all parts of the UK and were catalogued in the following groups, Showman’s Engines, Road Haulage Locomotives, Steam Tractors, Road Rollers, Steam Lorries & Buses, Ploughing Engines & Steam Cultivating, Portable Engines, General Purpose Engines and steam cars & Vans. They also came from parts of









Europe, New Zealand and the USA, the catalogue entry before the show was more than the 500. Most of them would have been under steam performing the function they were originally built for including Renown, a showman’s engine owned by the late Ran Hawthorne from 1963 to 1979. For the newer NHBS members Ran was leading fount of knowledge on the subject horse brasses with several NHBS publications to his credit.   

Although the emphasis was on steam engines this year, as usual all kinds of vintage interests were catered for, just about every make of tractor and agricultural implement was put through it’s paces at the various working displays, there are several YouTube DVD’s online that can best illustrate the diversity of interests and the vast area the show covers.  

Being the centenary of the end of the Great War the WW1 section, and in particular a reproduction of the trenches attracted large crowds. In 2014 the trenches were created as a tribute to those who lost their lives and would remain in place for the centenary of the four years of the Great War.



















The area was brought to life by many re-enactment groups in uniform, military vehicles and equipment of the day.

Dominating the whole area is a soldier statue made of brake discs, spanners, clutch plates, horse shoes and all manner of scrap metal items. The imposing figure of a WW1 soldier is over six meters tall and is entitled “The Haunting” and was created in memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice 

It seems a pity that the trenches are now to be levelled unless there is an eleventh hour reprieve, there has been talk that the area should remain because of its historical value.







We at the NHBS produced a special limited edition of 50 brasses in recognition of the centenary combined with the 50th anniversary of the GDSF. The brass design was based on that of a peel of eight bells produced in Loughborough and transported to Ypres in Belgium via and stopping off at the 2017 GDSF. They were loaded onto two lorries of the era, a Thornycroft (pictured here) and a Dennis, which after the show they were placed on a low loader and transported to Ypres, the old girls considered too delicate to manage the whole trip under their own steam!! (Forgive the pun). The GDSF sponsored the transportation of the bells which are now hung in the bell tower of St George’s Memorial Church 

The limited edition brass proved very successful selling out on the second day, at least three of them will be used on harness and it was pleasing to know that several of them went to those connected with the WW1 section of the show. One is known to have gone to John Arthur whose Dennis carried four of the bells to Ypres and Jan Breen (pictured here) a regular visitor to our NHBS exhibit.









For three days the crowds came in abundance as our picture shows of the main avenue but on the fourth day disaster struck! About an inch of rain fell during the day and the wind blew completely trashing the Cumbrian Heavy Horses Farm Holidays exhibit just two stands away from us and ruined the competition day of the Heavy Horse Section of the GDSF, however some classes did take place the decorated harness class was judged in the stables. Soon after 2pm everything closed as the conditions had become too difficult.







As we have seen before the rain and wind stopped during the evening the ground dried out and everything was go by bank holiday Monday morning. Full marks go to Annie Rose, Cumbrian Heavy Horses who with the use of a bit of Sellotape and baler twine had resurrected her exhibit by 10am (See before and after pictures). The crowds came back for the final day of the show, so all was well. 

On the perimeter of the Sid Wallace Heavy Horse Ring was several horse related stands including the NHBS. Also, in the area was the collector’s avenues with a multitude of treasures to view including a display of horse brasses by Society member David Rudwick.
















 Events took place throughout each day in the heavy horse ring with the exception of the Sunday show day, the highlight being a WW1 display starting with life on the farm and methods of food production during the war years. It then moved to the requisition of horses and the role they played in the war effort, ending with decorated carts in memory of the victory parades that took place after the hostilities ended.







 As usual Peter and I were pleased to represent the Society at this very special 50th celebration show and to welcome friends old and new.

Jim Speed
September 2018