Owing to the current and proposed restrictions Wessex Stationary Engine Club has decided to curtail all activities for the foreseeable future. All club nights have been suspended, and the bike jumble/sale planned for the 28th of this month has been postponed, as has the Midsummer Vintage Show due to take place on the 20th and 21st June. We apologise for any inconvenience but we have taken this action in the interests of our members and guests, and we will produce a revised calendar when more is known about the progress of the virus.
There are a couple of extra events that might make up for what looks like being a disastrous summer. We have been invited to the Worton Village Day at Five Lanes Farm on the 5th September, and the following day Trowbridge and Westbury Lions are holding their excellent annual White Horse Classic & Vintage Vehicle Show, and they have asked us to go along. For Worton please contact Eric on 01225 754374 and for the White Horse Classic & Vintage Vehicle Show entry is on line https://www.whitehorsevehicleshow.org/ or contact me on 0775 1918283 for more information.
For those who managed to navigate the road closed and diversion signs and get to the East Somerset Railway station at Cranmore last Saturday it was well worth it. The weather at first was mild and pleasant, although the wind picked up later and drove us away!
There was a fine selection of bits and pieces, and several engines being bought and sold, and I think everyone did OK. The club benefited from the modest entry fees and the only downside was that the railway seemed to have forgotten we were coming and didn’t have the cafe open, and I for one was looking forward to a breakfast.
We are keeping our collective fingers crossed for the next event at Standerwick on the 28th March. There is a possibility that the authorities might by then have banned public gatherings, in which case I’ll let everyone know through this page. For the avoidance of doubt it is a motorcycle jumble combined with a spares sort-out, and all are welcome. No need to book unless you want a table in the hall, in which case it would be as well to check availability with Gareth on 07972 433890
The entire archive of newsletters from 1977 to the present is now loaded onto the website. It’s made fascinating reading (even I’m not sad enough to read them all, but I read snippets while the scanner was doing it’s bit), and there are some interesting technical snippets amongst the chit chat. There are some gaps, and although I’m assured that they are where a newsletter wasn’t produced for one reason or another I would welcome being proved wrong if anyone has the missing issues. There is also a page missing from one or two, and it would be amazing if they were to miraculously appear!
Some of them are a bit skewed, which was a scanner problem, and if anyone should need a “straight” copy I’m sure it could be arranged.
A reminder that the AGM is coming up, and to have a vote you will need to be a paid-up member. If you can’t make it but still want a say in the running of the club you can complete and return the postal voting form, but please don’t forget to mark the envelope “postal vote” so that it remains sealed until the AGM.
You can enrol on this website using the appropriate button, and if you enroled online last year you can log in using the user name and password you set then, and renew with a click.
Well here we are starting off a new year. All the club nights and crank-ups are on the calendar. To start the year off our first club night, on January 27th, will be a talk by Mr John Rossiter about the big Robey pumping engine once used at a brewery in Shepton Mallet. Mr Rossiter has the original drawings and information about the engine and it promises to be an interesting and entertaining talk
I apologise if anyone has experienced difficulty renewing their club membership online. This was due to unforeseen technical difficulties that have now been resolved. You will see that there is now a “login” button on the right of the menu bar. If you login using the user name and password you created last year you will be able to renew using the “sign up” button in the normal way. New members can still sign up using the home page buttons as normal. Please let me know if you have any problems with this system.
1 January 2020
Mince Pie Crank-up
Some 21 engines turned up at Whaddon Farm on Sunday 29th December for the Mince Pie Crank-up, and what a varied bunch they were. I fear it would be too boring just to list all the engines and their owners; but there were big ones, like Pete’s Hornsby and Gordon’s Lister, both driving pumps, and there were little ones, like Roger’s Leek gas engine and Richard’s anonymous genset and furious little Alco.
Ash brought along his splendid re-badged Japy, and Jez a somewhat unusual and very tidy Slavia, which shared the centre ground with a Ruston and a Fowler, also very tidy and running well. By sheer coincidence all those with generators ended up together on one side of the barn, giving a good display and a welcoming glow, while for some reason the pumps were mainly on the other side – apart from Mark’s very tidy Ruston.
As usual Gordon made sure everyone was settled, while the ladies led by Paula (and helped by Tommy) put on a sumptuous spread and kept the urn topped up. The day ended as usual with a raffle, and between this and the charity box a goodly sum was raised for Alzheimer’s Support.
The programme for the coming year will be published very soon and among the crank-ups there will be another one at Whaddon Farm, so if you haven’t yet tried it why not come along and enjoy the fun? There’s plenty of room in that barn!
We are delighted to welcome Pete Gear as our new Vice Chairman. Pete brings a wealth of experience and we are sure he will be a great asset to the club.
There was a really good turnout last night for the annual Wessex quiz. This time Anne had set some very easy questions, or so we thought until we got some of them wrong! Bowls of chips and a raffle completed the evening, and we had time to have a good natter and exchange early Christmas wishes. Don’t forget the the mince pie crank-up on the 29th December, when Paula and Gordon once again extend their hospitality at Whaddon Farm. A phone call would be appreciated to help Paula estimate the amount of soup and crumble needed!
Monday 28th October club night. This was going to be the Wessex Club’s model night, regretfully not the long-legged type in a short skirt.
I am very grateful to all those club members who came along and put on quite a show of excellent models, from steam and electric powered 16mm trains to Roger Kempson giving us such an insight into how he restores music boxes, and I do not mean the tiny ones with the fairy that prances around when the lid is opened. Roger had brought along a box that he had spent months rebuilding, and repinning the cylinder. Talk about a labour of love, this alone I believe took around nine months to complete, let alone the rest of the work.
I took along a collection of steam engines that I have collected and restored over the years, Ted had brought a brief case full of model aircraft engines, they are for sale. Interested? then ring Ted on 07751918283. I was very tempted, but having so many projects on the go at this time one has to draw the line and stop buying goodies and toys.
It has just been pointed out to me that there is no St Margaret’s Church in Market Lavington. Gary’s funeral will in fact be at St Mary’s Church. SN10 4DU
Apologies for any confusion
Gary’s funeral will take place at St Margarets Church, Market Lavington at 11am on the 5th November.
On Monday the seventh of October the Wessex Stationary engine Club Ltd. lost one of its most valued members, Gary Sainsbury.
Gary had been a member of the club ever since we resurrected the rally at Semington twelve years ago. He came along to help and ended up becoming section steward for our working section, and with Pauline running the craft section.
Gary never had to be asked to help, he always seemed to know that help was needed and would be the first one to help or lend a hand. I asked him to join the committee of the Wessex Midsummer Vintage Show, I did not have to ask twice and for around ten years he has served not only on the show committee but as a valued member of the Wessex Stationary Engine Club committee.
Gary was an agricultural engineer for many years, then a change to working for the military on Salisbury Plain, dangerous work retrieving shells fired for testing, at times going down into the ground for around forty feet. For the last few years after being made redundant he ran his own business, horticultural machinery repairs.
I know he will be missed by all that knew him. The Wessex Stationary Engine Club has lost a very valued member, and I myself have lost the best friend I could ever have.
To Pauline, Mary and all of Gary’s friends and relations we the committee and members would like to express our sincere condolences.
Goodbye dear friend. May you rest in peace.
Eric Gay. Chairman W.S.E.C.
The Midsummer Show entry forms and membership renewal form for 2020 are now in the “Forms” section of the website. Please note that from now on any renewals or new enrolments will be valid for 2019/2020 although the new insurance card will not be available until the end of the year. That also applies to any online enrolments or renewals.
Despite the lack of a speaker, last night’s meeting went well. After Eric gave a short talk on Fowler engines and the usual raffle was held there was a chance for members to mingle and chat. It was good to see Roger looking so fit after his recent serious health scare, and good to see that so many members had taken the trouble to come along. The next meeting will be the model evening on October 28th, so bring along your models and show us what you can do!
It is with great sadness that I must announce the passing of Mary Verrall after suffering a recent set-back. Mary and Brian have been members of the club since the beginning, some 40 years ago, so most of you will have known her and will appreciate all she did for the club. She will be missed, and my thoughts go out to Brian and family.
On Monday night we were treated to an interesting talk by Terry Williams, telling us of his family’s five-year project to set up the Poppy of Honour, in which the names of all the British and commonwealth soldiers killed in the first world war are written on poppies and preserved for the future, along with a box of representative articles from the war. The names were written by volunteers all over the world, and assembled by another group of volunteers at home, all of the materials and construction work being donated by local businesses.
The Poppy of Honour began as a response to finding out that the names of all of those killed were not recorded on a single memorial, only on individual memorials around the country, and there was very little representation of the commonwealth soldiers, of whom there were many. Terry set out to do something about it. In sourcing the poppies he encountered resistance from the British Legion, who wanted payment for any help they gave him, and even went so far as to demand that the Poppy be handed over to them when finished. As the British Legion only commemorate the British dead, and then in a very formulaic way, Terry wasn’t prepared to do that.
With the success of the Poppy’s tour Terry is now involved in constructing a museum near Wincanton, in which everyone of any age, sex, race and religion can interact with the memorial, in the hope that the young can be educated in the futility of war and the stupidity of fighting.
Throughout the talk Terry’s passion showed, and we all left with plenty to think about.
At the recent Maiden Bradley crank-up a local photographer, David Hargrave, came along and took some shots for a magazine. He was kind enough to let me have the pictures which are now on the “Club Photos” page of this website. You can find more plus a great write-up at https://www.dcrh.co.uk/galleries-information/2019-events/
A Soldier in the Great War
Just fifteen of us turned up at the Old Down Inn last night to hear Barry Williamson give us a talk. It started off quite slowly but it soon became apparent that it was a fascinating tale of detective work by himself and a group of schoolchildren whom he was teaching at the time.
Following the story of one soldier, chosen at random from the memorial board at their school, they traced his history from his birth in Clifton to when he was tragically killed in the first world war, and were able to contact his last surviving relatives and find a home for his effects, including the letters he wrote to his mother, and to go to see his grave. As well as being an intriguing story it was also a reminder of the futility of war, and the struggles of those involved in it.
It was remarkable that this one person, chosen at random, should prove to be such a fascinating subject when he could so easily have led to a disappointing dead end.
The Somerset Arms, Maiden Bradley. 28th July.
Over twenty engines, a miniature steam traction engine, a display of tools, some model steam engines, an air engine and a motorcycle were all on display at the Somerset Arms on Sunday.
The weather was just about perfect and the venue couldn’t have been much better. With plenty of food and drink at the bar and a huge BBQ in the garden our hosts couldn’t have been any more welcoming.
There were a few engines I don’t remember seeing before as well as some old favourites, and David Lacey even brought his drone along to take some high-level photos. On the subject of photos there was also a professional photographer there to take some for the Vintage Spirit magazine, and various members have posted some on our Facebook page.
“Gutenberg To Gates”
a report by Roger Pike
Eric, the Chairman, opened the meeting with a few announcements and then introduced the speaker for the evening – Mr Roy Ackrill. There were 17 members present and we were all treated to a very interesting talk, complete with items about the early printing to present day.
Printing was a very major industry from way back. The Bible was one of the main items to change from decade to decade. Symbols and Roman letters were used at the beginning, changing all through the years until the letters are as we know them today.
One main man was Gutenberg, who used natural oils to make ink, moving on from clay and gum. He was born in roughly 1394/1404 and died 1468. He attended grammar school and was responsible for the first printed bible, of which there are only 48 surviving today.
Lots of items were passed around the room; printing letters, paperwork with different prints and newspapers for us all to look at. Magnifying glass or glasses were definitely needed. A small printing press was on show too.
William Caxton, who died in 1491, was the first English printer. William Tyndale, who spoke 8 languages, translated and printed the first Tyndale bible. The Bible played a big part in the English language. The type-setting point progressed from 1 sheet at a time to the present day with hundreds of copies. The printing industry used many types of presses.
In 1712 there was a newspaper tax of 1d. Roy brought an old Bristol Journal from 1785 to compare printing and language. In 1955 Bill Gates modernised things again by introducing microsoft. As the years go on the internet is taking over most communications these days with the use of Facebook and emails, which have now made the art of letter writing a dying thing. The talk was so interesting and Roy went for 15 mins longer than he should have. Lots of interest and questions followed, with 3 ex-printers being in the audience
Eric then thanked Roy for one of the best talks we have had. The raffle then took place and everyone left having had a really good evening
Planning for the 2020 Wessex Midsummer Vintage Show has now begun, so would anyone willing to help, or with any ideas for improving the show, please contact the Secretary. Meetings are held once a month in Trowbridge and usually last for a couple of hours. Come and join the team, and help to make next years show the best ever.
Our first event at the Tuckers Grave Inn turned out to be a very enjoyable affair. Although not particularly warm the sun shone brightly all day on a happy band of engineers. Our hosts put on a BBQ, which was well received, and of course drinks flowed freely throughout the day for those not driving. The beer garden seemed to be extremely popular.
Upon arrival it appeared that the field had been double-booked, but we fitted in well with the amateur radio enthusiasts who were holding a rally at the same time. The twenty-odd engines, a beautifully restored US Army staff car, some nice miniature cars and a couple of bikes just about filled the remaining space. Although the turnout of vendors was disappointing the few people who were selling had a fine selection of goods, and lots of people were seen carrying away their purchases.
The engines on show ranged from Robin’s hot air engine to a lovely Victoria being shown by Don and Christine. Steve and Sacha brought along a little Tarpen generator that buzzed away all day keeping its bulb alight, while next door Sam’s Christensen was far more laid back. There was a great variety of pumps driven by a number of different engines; Lister, Bernard and Amanco to name but a few, and Roger had his T300 generator rigged up, shining bright despite the sunshine. Eric seemed to be having trouble with his wick, but he had an interesting display nonetheless.
Thank you to everyone who came along to this, the first, I hope, of many crank-ups at this venue. I can think of few better ways to spend a sunny Sunday, and I hope that next time a few more sellers will take advantage of the opportunity to flog off some stuff. And a mention must go to the ladies who worked tirelessly selling raffle tickets to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.
About 25 members got together at the Old Down Inn last night to hear Tony Coverdale’s interesting talk on the copper and brass industry along the Avon in the 18th and 19th century. He explained how it was tied in to the slave trade, and how, like so many of our industries, failure to adapt led to its demise.
Our next talk, on the 20th May, takes us a little further afield, to the moon! I look forward to joining lots of members and non-members to hear from Mike Chipperfield “how Newton and Apollo got us to the moon”.
The WSEC presence at Mells Daffodil Festival was pretty impressive, with over 40 engines of over 23 different makes and all types. Robin had his hot air engines, Adrian his model steam, powered as usual by the trusty Wolseley and compressor, and Adrian Masters a couple of Redwing models. The full-size engines ranged from an almost unique vertical 1898 ish Pierce 1 hp to a tank-cooled Wolseley WD8 and Dave & Mary’s 5-1/2 hp Blackstone. There was an impressive variety of driven equipment too, with lots of different pumps, and corn mills ranging from Mr Bishop’s little Bentall No 1 to the much larger one of Alex Shire. Well done to all, especially Herb who arranged it and put in most of the work, and the organisers of the festival for inviting us.
Despite a bitterly cold wind we had a good turnout for the crank-up at the White Horse Country Park in Westbury yesterday. The miniature train was kept busy giving rides, and lots of people came to see what was an extremely varied selection of engines. Apologies to anyone who missed us, but I’m afraid that in the end the cold got to us and by three thirty it was all over.
What a fine day for the Cranmore sale. Lots of sellers, lots of buyers, and a fine sunny morning. Who could ask for more? If you missed it don’t miss the next one, at Tucker’s Grave on the 12th May.