Recently Mr PP asked if I would like to go with him to a Model Railway Gala. Having nothing better to do I said yes, why not and off we went to ‘Model Railways Plus’ held at Hadlow Down over the border in East Sussex.
I have been to a fair few model railway shows so knew pretty much what to expect, but when we arrived it seemed that I had got it wrong. This show was quite a bit different. held at Tinkers Park, the home of the Claude Jessett Trust (www.tinkerspark.com), the venue is basically a group of fields on a slope with several large barn-like buildings at the top end. Dotted around the fields were the rusting hulks of several steam traction engines, some which had obviously been parked there for a considerable time if the grass growing around and through their wheels was anything to go by.
The actual model rail show featured 19 layouts some based on real places, some imaginary but most of a high standard of modelling. By far the most interesting for me though was the vast amount of old vehicles, many appearing abandoned around the site.
one of the steam giants parked on the site
I love steam engines and it is a dream to have the space (and money) to own one, restore it and then drive it around! Seeing so many of these once proud giants of the past in such a sad state brings a tear to the eye.
Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom as the Claude Jessett Trust doesn’t leave these amazing machines to rot away quietly, instead it collects engines and parts and works hard to restore those worth restoring to their former glory where they can be admired in preservation by everyone.
Advance, a steam road roller formerly owned by Frimley and Camberley UDC
unnamed steam traction engine
As well as the traction engines, there were many vintage lorries awaiting their turn for preservation. These enormous vehicles are the direct descendants of the traction engines, boasting massive diesel engines set on a huge box section steel chassis and surmounted by a cab which was generally made from wood with steel or aluminium sheet panels. Name plates such as Foden, AEC, Seddon-Atkinson, Bedford, Thorneycroft and Scammell rust quietly away on ancient radiator covers, while the wooden drivers cabs steadily crumble away.
a pair of ancient “wrecker” trucks
another wrecked ‘wrecker’
ancient flatbed truck with front winch in need of complete restoration
spare parts or transport graveyard?
As well as the vehicles Tinkers Park boasts a narrow gauge railway on which it runs a small fleet of preserved narrow gauge engines. Other pieces of social history to be seen include a couple of Red Telephone boxes and (my favourite thing) a World War Two air raid searchlight!
Not quite the Tardis!
Bandits at one o’clock! Love this WW2 searchlight!
Clearly there is much work yet to be done to revitalise all of these once glorious giants of the road.
As well as the engines and trucks large and small, Tinkers Park is also the home of the Organ and Musical Museum. Housed in a large shed in one corner of the Park are half a dozen mechanical musical organs, sometimes called fairground organs in various states of disrepair. A recently restored 46 key Limmonaire “Silver Cherub” was playing in the park area.
The Silver Cherub
Sadly some of the other organs were not in such good order and have suffered over the years due to poor storage facilities. A little more can be found about these organs on the Jessett Trust website (link above).
Empire Days – fairground organ figureheads
This was certainly one of the oddest railway linked events I have attended, not really one thing or another, but despite the lack of focus I came away feeling content that I had seen some interesting things in their ‘raw’ state.
ancient American car (compete with ‘zombie’ passenger in the rear seat) – Buick maybe? or Oldsmobile, Chrysler…no idea!