Autumn Countryside Show 2013
Those of you who watch the Tudor Monastery Farm on BBC will know it is largely filmed at the Weald and Downland Museum in Singleton West Sussex.
The museum is a collection of rescued period buildings restored to their original time period, they even have a building there from Middle Street in Horsham. Well the museum hosts an annual Autumn Countryside show at which SEAMS have for several years now, put on a display of engines.
As with most things on site, the focus is on working exhibits demonstrating the old crafts and skills so most of the engines were shown driving some form of machinery to show the public how these engines were used. There is a field set aside for ploughing where the tractors can go and play and where the heavy horses can be put through their paces. This year there seemed to be more heavy horses than ever with something like nine or ten pairs and several singles ‘pulling the plough’ and proving very popular with visitors. The museum has a beautiful location in the South Downs National Park providing a spectacular backdrop to the events going on in the ploughing field.
There had been rain before the show so it was a bit tricky getting up the slope to the engine pens at the top of the field but everyone managed to get into position. Saturday was a fine day and a fine display of engines and machinery lined up along the top of the field. Luke and Tom brought their 1913 Amanco 4hp Farm Hand belted to a Bentall root cutter with some large mangel wurzel’s grown by Tom to show what would have been going through the machine. Dick had brought one of his Blackstone BD engines and Andy was using his Witte drag saw to cut wood, used later that evening to keep some happy (but always incendiary!) campers warm.
The regular French fraction at this show was Jon’s 6hp Conord CL driving a Cooch seed dresser, an excellent display that kept visitors amused. Alongside was Jon’s fine collection of printed hessian sacks of both British and French origins (the marijuana bag I know is from the USA!) . Supporting the French theme was Graham’s portable Moteur CL water pump outfit, a well engineered unit which was pushing the water around with some gusto. Nigel McBurney brought along his Fairbanks Morse ‘Jack of All Trades’ for the Saturday only, he must have known something as on Sunday the weather was very wet and nothing really got going. Despite the inclement forecast, Dennis arrived with his Armstrong diesel which ran through the rain while he sheltered in the back of his vehicle. Even the steam threshing in the main field using the museum’s 1861 threshing drum, one of the oldest still working, had covered up. It just shows how farming was and still is, very much dependent on weather as machinery like mills, threshing drums and seed dressing is very much a dry weather activity.
By about lunchtime the weather had got the better of the show though they were gamely pressing on with the arena displays. Most of the public had gone home (no doubt to Sunday lunch) and there were very few visitors along the engine line or indeed cars in the public car park, so we switched off our very wet engines and decided to call it a day. I’m probably not alone in having to spend the next day running the engine to dry it out. We have been very lucky in past years to have good weather on both days making this show one not to be missed. For an Autumn show there is always a risk of bad weather but luckily we did have a good saturday, well supported by club members which made it all worthwhile. We hope for better weather next year…