The air at Pembrey Country Park was filled with steam and that familiar autumnal smell of coal burning for those of a certain age over the weekend.
Not particularly PC or appealing to any climate change campaigners but to a large community of enthusiasts young and old the Pembrey Steam Fair is a must. We were expecting to se Howl’s moving Castle appearing over one of the sand dunes. It was a heaven for steam punks or just the plain curious. Grandparents shared the excitement and the work with grandchildren and the pay off was a free ride on some magnificent machines.
Three generations of one family came along with an enormous steam engine fuelled by almost a tonne of coal. The mighty beast was a product of yesteryear and was used to pull along road making equipment such as rollers and trailers carrying the stone.
There were engines of all sizes perfectly engineered and replicated giving incredible attention to detail. Children sat on trailers being pulled along leaving clouds of steam in their wake. Dogs sat happily alongside owners as they made their way around the park with plenty of onlookers smiling and waving and revelling in this display of vehicles of yesteryear. We took a trip around the park in a Stanley. Suffice to say it was hair raising but fun. It was a real attention grabber as it whizzed around weaving in between modern vehicles leaving motorists dumbstruck. It was like a scene from Steam Boy with the driver complete with steam punk top hat.
They had come from all parts of the UK and set up camp in caravans tents RV’s and local B&B’s. Coal dust and oil clinging to their hands and faces clutching oil cans or else shovelling coal into the belly of the beasts which were hissing under the heat and pressure. That pressure released every now and again with a puff of steam and the scream of a steam whistle.
The steam fair covered a vast area of the country park and included a fantastic lineup of vintage vehicles from yesteryear. Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Ford Capri, Austin, Morris Minor, Mini Lambretta, Puch and Land-rover to name but a few of the vehicles neatly lined up in rows with owners proudly watching over them sipping tea or coffee from thermos flasks.
The weather held for the weekend’s festivities with brilliant sunshine on the Saturday but a tad nippier on the Sunday. Families enjoyed the space and relaxed under trees or on picnic benches sharing out the sandwiches or feeding the BBQ with sausages. For the hardened steam enthusiasts breakfast and lunch was cooked on the shovel or else in a compartment heated by the steam. No standing on ceremony they taste very rustic with that sprinkle of coal dust or slither of oil.
Red double decker buses ferried the visitors around the park giving them perfect views over the opposing Gower coastline. There were wood carvers food stalls train rides and plenty of stalls selling all sorts of ancient tools and memorabilia. There was music too from old sheet fed organs and an incredible home built organ made by John James which played tunes from Glen Miller to Status Quo. John told me that he had retired and fancied having a go at making something. It turned out to be a lorry sized musical gem which John says he made using a few drawings off the internet and his own ingenuity.
This was a real local success story attracting hundreds if not thousands of people to the area. Best of all it was FREE.
If you missed the event look out for our video highlights coming soon.
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