The Slaidburn Steam and Vintage Vehicle Display was founded by enthusiast David McNamee. He recalls how the rally first began four decades ago
This year sees the 40th anniversary of the Slaidburn Steam and Vintage Vehicle Display. The popular fair was started by steam enthusiast David McNamee, who continues to organise the event: “I never thought that from humble beginnings it would turn out to be so successful. It has grown into what many enthusiasts call a unique event with a friendly and relaxed atmosphere and is firmly established on the steam rally calendar.”
In 1979 David purchased an Aveling & Porter single cylinder steamroller built in 1924: “I exhibited the engine at the Lancashire Traction Engine Clubs Rally at Haydock Park and then drove it into Manchester along with other engines to take part in an event in the city centre. Engine owners asked me how I was going to get the engine back to Slaidburn, a distance of over 40 miles, to which I replied, ‘I’ll steam it there, that’s how!’”
That journey took David nearly three days to complete. Before embarking on the trip David went to see the last steam roller driver, who worked for Bowland Council. “I told him what I was about to do and asked for his advice. He replied, ‘Don’t – tha’s either daft or brave’, to which I replied, ‘I’m a bit of both!’”
In the summer of 1980 David parked his steamroller outside the Hark to Bounty at Slaidburn which attracted a lot of attention – this was the start of the Slaidburn Steam Fair. The following year two more enthusiasts joined him and the village hall committee asked if they could have stalls to raise money.
At the end of last year’s fair, a total of £88,000 has been raised since those humble beginnings. Donations have been made to the British Heart Foundation, North West Air Ambulance, Cancer Research and Slaidburn Young Farmers as well as many village groups, schools and organisations.
David adds: “Part of the fair’s success is down to the fact that there isn’t a committee, we don’t have any entry forms and very little paperwork. I have also remained adamant that the fair started at the Hark to Bounty and it will stay there – if it were to move then it would lose its identity.”
Fifteen engine owners have expressed interest in the 40th rally – including a steam driven Land Rover. In addition to steam engines, several vintage tractors, working exhibits, vintage and classic cars will also be on show.
There will also be several displays of country crafts and entertainment on the Saturday evening.
This year’s beneficiaries are Slaidburn and Dunsop Bridge village schools.