SEAMS News Archives

Amberley Stationary Engines Day 29 April 2018

By Mark Tewkesbury

Following the super hot weekend of St. Georges and the West Grinstead rally, things looked rather good for our yearly foray to the Amberley Museum. Oh dear! what did we do to upset the weather gods?

As always, it pays to get in early, so the alarm buzzed in my ear at 6am (i’m sure others were up earlier!). With 2 engines loaded, the run down was quiet, in fact for the first time, I didnt see another engineman on the road. Despite getting there just after 8am, there were already quite a few early birds unloading. Bill and Colin had been and set up their display Saturday so it was easy to roll in behind and take the corner plot, in front of the ‘friends’ shop. Allan Harris arrived somewhat later and we squeezed his Lister A type in next to mine. Chronologically it looked right with  Bill’s  early spec 10 (1923), my spec 15 (1925) and Allan’s spec 56 (1926) almost in a line.

Just before 10am, our first group marched past and seemed to be the order of the day as various groups of schoolchildren were in attendance. Sadly visitors were a rarity! but pleasingly the few that had braved the cold, were very interested to look at all the engines on display. The oldest was an 1890 Jean Schoehner Hot Air engine, exhibited by SEAMS member Bob Worsfold, whilst the newest was a 1990 Briggs and Stratton genset providing back up power to an innovative water power display.

Of the 57 engines entered, 6 were no shows, making just over the 50 on display. These were all grouped around the entrance areas and in front of the cafeteria. An excellent display really, covering a good depth of different engines and virtually no two the same. Perhaps star engine had to be Nigel Scourse’s Domestic Type F Pump Jack engine with its distinctive fluted hopper. Whilst star display had to go to Bill Ovenden with his Lister B type and H & E Lintott of Horsham A frame shallow well pump. It was good to see the next generation making their first outing to a major rally with Rowan Sampson showing off his new Wolseley and Lister pump.

There were a few grumbles about the Museum. Lack of advertising, poor or not as advertised food available. Lack of toilets. All I can say is, the world isn’t what it used to be. Changing trends mean Museums are finding it difficult to attract visitors. Funding is much reduced and everything has to pay its way. Stationary Engine Day is not a money spinner for the Museum. All events have costs (we all received a nice bag with map, programme and plaque) so to put on an event that does not recoup the money laid out means we are very fortunate to be invited. As has happened elsewhere, some venues are charging exhibitors and I can well see the day when Amberley may have to do the same if we want to continue to display there. OK, shout and say you wont attend, but where else would we get a nice, reasonably flat area with short grass and facilities? Would the club be willing to spend out as it did at the Bentley shows? I for one think not. So who looses out then? US! No shows, means lack of interest, lack of interest means lack of members and then no club, also lack of interest might seriously affect the value of that old iron in the shed! Please note I am in no way connected to Amberley Museum. If you have any gripes or praises please let them know. Keeping quiet will not benefit anyone.