Back Where It Belongs...
The Ulster Festival of Steam and Transport has been going for over many years, 49 to be precise. The world economic down turn in 2009 affected Northern Ireland more that you might know and in addition affected rally attendance right across the board here as well.
With a move of site by the Traction Engine Club of Ulster to Ballee Playing Fields, County Antrim, giving the event a hard standing area where the machinery can parade, whatever the weather. This was a major problem at the previous site and one that was never resolved properly. All told the new site is far better than what was used at the neighbouring Ballymena stadium, but it’s taken some a long time to accept the new situation.
However the 16 people committee have pressed on and new shoots are starting to come through. There is also fresh blood on the committee, with John Steele taking the helm as chairman of the TECU. John is 'hands on’ and gets on so well with everyone. He has been ably assisted by Robert and John McKibbin, who everyone has been so pleased to have on board and also with the rest of the committee, who as always pulled their weight to make the show happen.
Unfortunately with poor weather on the Friday crowds kept away, but that didn’t deter anyone and the parades went ahead as normal. To be followed by the early evening tractor road run, followed by the barbeque and party that went on into the ‘wee small hours’ of Saturday morning.
The following day an excellent crowd turned up to enjoy a very good autojumble area, which was well visited on both days. An excellent solid line-up of cars, tractors, stationary engines, commercial vehicles, which were well laid out, made the show exceptional.
As for the steam section, well it participated all through the event, even in the rain. There were some nine engines in the programme, which didn’t turn out as expected, certainly disappointing for the organisers. This was particularly a shame as the site has so much hard standing and you cannot get stuck. Even so, there was plenty here to see, lead by steam organiser Paddy McKendry’s and his 1920 Fowler R3 8hp 15117 showmans road locomotive Headway.
Enjoying the event to the full was Ryan Watterson’s 1914 Marshall 6hp traction engine 66134, which former owner and ex haulage contractor Tom Herron was enjoying the engine driving it sedately, as it should. This is another engine that worked in the Cork area for many years of its life.
Talking of Marshalls, James Patterson was out with his 1929 ex-Devon County Council compound traction engine 74746. This engine features a new boiler barrel, firebox, and many other parts and has recently been put up for sale.
Also here from Scotland was Davie Adam and family from Insch, Aberdeenshire with his 2009 Burrell 4.5 inch scale traction engine in excellent order. Davie told our reporter that the engine has been very reliable, but he got his fingers burnt with his first steam traction engine model he bought. However he has not lost faith surprisingly and with his scale road wagon was enjoying the event to the full.
As always Mickey Brannigan from Castlewellen, County Down kept the crowds happy with his amazing 2010 McLaren 6in model, which be built himself and has participated on various mammoth road runs and is a regular at the GDSF. However there were plenty of other models all taking part in the event as well.
As the Saturday went on the weather got warmer, as did the crowd, who like myself had enjoyed the event to the full. Thanks to all involved the event moves forward and upwards.
from p. 16 of issue September 2016
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