Fitting Farewell Finale for Fawley Hill Vintage Steam Festival

The wonderful era of steam powered vehicles and British engineering was showcased at the last ever Fawley Hill Vintage Steam Festival at the weekend.

In the sunshine, visitors enjoyed watching the sights and sounds of these beautifully crafted machines that have been continued to be wonderfully maintained by experts in the field, along with vintage aerial displays, farm, military, buses, motorcycles, cars, pedal-powered and horse-drawn vehicles.  There was also the bonkers modern day machines from Edd China and Lyndon York including a moving bed and mad Outspan oranges plus camels dressed-up in all their finery!  A star attraction at the Festival this year was the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car which starred in the 1968 film on loan from the Beaulieu Motor Museum.

Each day there was a programme of displays in the main ring with excellent commentary about each of the vehicles.  We particularly loved the steam powered car which was so quiet.

At the train station you could take a ride on 1942 King George Hunslet Engine loaned by Didcot Railway Centre along the steepest standard gauge railway track in the world and once on board you got the chance to see many of  the animals that roam on the private estate.

Under the big top, live music could be enjoyed all weekend with The Crooked Billet pop up pub serving their legendary street food dishes and drinks.

Kids loved the fun fair rides which included a Ferris wheel, chair swing ride, horse carousel and bumper cars.

The ‘slightly batty’ dog show saw vet Eric D’Arcy-Donnelly have the difficult decision of crowning the Perkiest Pup, Owner/Dog look-alike, Golden Oldie and others along with the Best in Show on Saturday and Sunday.

The Festival was raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support, Thames Valley Air Ambulance, Ways & Means Trust and Motor Neurone’s Disease.

Fawley Hill owner, Lady Judy McAlpine said afterwards, “It was a very good event; some have said the best yet. I had said I would do one final event for my 80th birthday… but last year I was persuaded to do one because The Who were to come and play. When they had to pull out I was too far in to cancel and then of course the weather made me postpone to August.  I thought that should be the final one but the family that have bought the stud kindly allowed us to use the fields for car parking one more time.  So I did my ’80th’ as I originally wanted to.”

Lady Judy enjoyed sitting atop of a large tank during a ring display.  She commented, “Funny! People were horrified that I was travelling on top of a tank aged 80.  Why?  I’ve been on that tank a lot over the years.  You have to anchor yourself, then it is fine – and FUN!  Much easier than jumping out of a helicopter for my 70th!”

She concluded, “So – no regrets.. I will miss the beautiful traction engines.. but can see them elsewhere.  I have suggested that the whole event moves to Beaulieu.. the same weekend.”



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