Shrewsbury Steam Rally

Coalbrookdale Engine

This years Shrewsbury Steam Rally takes place Sunday 27 and Monday 28 August (Bank Holiday Monday) at Onslow Park, Shrewsbury. This year there will be over a thousand different exhibits on display including Steam-powered tractors, steam Rollers, Fairground showman engines, Historic military vehicles, Veteran and classic cars and commercial vehicles, Classic motorbikes, Vintage tractors, Vintage fairground organs and other machinery, Plus a range of oil and steam-powered static engines. The Main Arena will play host to a variety of events including a range of ploughing and threshing demonstrations on the working field, showing the history of farming as it has changed through the last century. Teams of shire horses will plough part of the site, as part of the heavy horses display, steam-powered cultivation will also be demonstrated. There will also be a birds-of -Prey display in the main arena demonstrating falconry.

London Steam Carriage

Shrewsbury Steam Rally will also be exhibiting one of the the first railway locomotives in the world, The Coalbrookdale Locomotive in association with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum. The Coalbrookdale Locomotive was originally Designed by Cornish engineer Richard Trevithick and built by the Coalbrookdale ironworks in 1802. Trevithick disagreed with James Watt’s assertion that ‘high-pressure steam’ was extremely dangerous and set out to prove so. However James Watt had taken out many patents on all aspects of steam engines to prevent others even experimenting. Despite this, Trevithick and one or two men (even one of Watt’s staff) began working on small high-pressure steam engines in secret for pumping water and road steam engines. In 1801 when Watts’ patents finally ran out Richard Trevithick took up the challenge in the form of two road vehicles. Then In 1802 Trevithick took out a patent for his high pressure steam engine. To prove his ideas, he built a stationary engine at the Coalbrookdale Company’s works in Shropshire in 1802. The Coalbrookdale company then built a rail locomotive for him. Sadly the only known information about it comes from a drawing preserved at the Science Museum, London, together with a letter written by Trevithick to his friend, Davies Giddy. The design incorporated a single horizontal cylinder enclosed in a return-flue boiler. A flywheel drove the wheels on one side through spur gears, and the axles were mounted directly on the boiler, with no frame. In 1803 Trevithick built another steam-powered road vehicle called the London Steam Carriage, which attracted much attention from the public and press when he drove it that year in London from Holborn to Paddington and back. However It was uncomfortable for passengers and proved more expensive to run than a horse-drawn carriage and so the project was abandoned. In 1989 GKN Sankey in association with The National Vulcan Insurance Company decided to build a replica the Coalbrookdale Locomotive using letters from Trevithick himself and a drawing held by what was the original patents office in London. It was assembled by a team of nine apprentices and was later donated to the museum on the 18th of July 1990.

The Portsmouth Action Field Gun Display Team will also be performing a truly spectacular event called the South Africa Challenge, involving a Command 1 tonne, 12-pounder field gun and limber (a two-wheeled cart designed to support the trail and the stock of a field carriage) which will be raced across the main arena. The display in its present form was started in 1907, inspired by the exploits of the Navy during the Boer War in 1899. From 2001 the Field Gun crews and staff of Portsmouth Action Field Gun (PAFG) have been committed to continue to train for and display these competitive Field Gun runs. In 2001 the ‘field gun run’ was resurrected by a crew and staff comprising ex-field gunners and civilians who wanted to prove that a civilian field gun crew had the ability to perform competitive field gun runs using the same drill and equipment over the same course as the former Royal Naval gunners did for a hundred years. A South Africa Challenge was performed at The International Festival of the Sea (IFOS) in Portsmouth in June 2005. The South Africa Challenge involves two teams racing each other to dis-assemble and re-assemble the Field Gun on the carriage and fire (a blank) at each end of the run. Six full competitive field gun runs were completed with a fastest time recorded of 3 minutes and 33 seconds. In 2010 the crew trained at Mill Rythe Holiday Centre on Hayling Island, and achieved the target of having 2 running crews by the end of 2010 to coincide with the re-introduced British Military Tournament (BMT) at Earls Court.

The Red Arrows aerobatic display team will also be doing a fly-past of the Shrewsbury steam Rally. The highlight of Steam Rally will be the Grand Parade set to nostalgic music and poetry, involving all kinds of other vehicles, from Steam Traction Engines, Showman Engines, military vehicles historic lorries classic motorbikes and classic cars,

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