On the second Tuesday in September, as in every year, the DPA attended Widecombe Fair, to “fly the flag” and spread the word about caring for Dartmoor. The weather can best be described as “fair” – there was mist to start with followed by some sun and showers. A good reason for reading on is that, among other things, Adam Henson was present with a BBC film crew who were shooting footage for BBC Countryfile (Wikipedia), BBC Countryfile (BBC web page).
As I start to write this post for the blog, it is always a mystery to me what will end up on the page. As we walk in to the site of the DPA stand, I usually take a few photos before we start ‘work’ and I ‘scive off’ occasionally to take some additional photos – otherwise, the blog would be a little lacking in visual interest. I see that out of 114 items, I have processed 45 and I don’t think they can all be used!
On this occasion, we passed a group of Morris dancers going through their paces: this is Dartmoor Border Morris – complete with their Morris dog …..
To more “serious” things, these country fairs are based, naturally, on rural life and some of its off-shoots, such as ponies – for which there are many classes …..
As mentioned earlier, you never know what will appear on this blog, or at the country shows – here was a BBC film crew in action.
While scouting around the show ground, I saw some quite professional filming going on, then I realised that Adam Henson was “across the shot”, at the top left in the photograph above …..
The photo above shows Adam talking to the camera, with the sound engineer behind.
The subject of the film appeared to be Dartmoor Whiteface sheep, which were in an adjacent enclosure …..
All these shows practice biosecurity – animal health is so important.
I could not resist photographing the ram in the photo above, he “looks the business!”
Now to really important aspects of the show, my weakness for old tractors!
What did I see across a crowded field – a steam tractor?
The model of the Burrel Agricultural Steam Traction Engine brought back some memories of a big traction engine in Hayle, Cornwall, that my dad used to hire to sterilise the soil in our greenhouses. He used to heap all the soil into long piles and then the owner would run steam pipes through the piles to kill off the grey mould, Botrytis cinerea that spoiled his early Freesia crop. This was in the mid-1950s and my schoolchums and I always knew when this was happening because the traction engine left “tyre” marks on the road past our small school all the way to the farm, so we ran home with great anticipation as to what we would see. It was the same when the threshing machine came to the farm.
I am willing to bet that not many have seen the “Duo” before …..
The tractor above is a monster! It started life when a farmer wanted more power and four-wheel drive so, apparently, he hooked two Fordson tractors together, controlled from the rear tractor.
“During the 1950s farmers in the United Kingdom in need of high-power tractors had few options. Essex farmer George Pryor developed an ingenious solution to the problem by creating his own tractor. He did this by purchasing two Fordson tractors, removing the front wheels and axles and linking the two by means of a turntable which provided the steering action powered by hydraulic rams. This left him with a double-engined four-wheel—drive tractor capable of producing more power and outperforming any of the conventional tractors on the UK market at the time.”
There was 14 hours of entertainment in the main marquee, from 10.00 am to the start of the ceilidh at 11.00 pm – we were home by then!
At one, point there was a flash, a clap of thunder and a heavy shower – but nothing deters the show competitors, they are a hardy breed on Dartmoor!
Of course, Uncle Tom Cobley was in attendance, as always …..
Uncle Tom Cobley always carries his own Thermos …..
Later in the afternoon, I looked out from the DPA gazebo and saw Adam Henson standing with the film crew, looking at the main show ring; he kindly posed for me but I missed a trick – I should have asked him to stand by the DPA set-up!
The photo above shows the third runner to come in from the Uncle Tom Cobley Downhill Race, first run in 1923.
Distinguished visitors to the DPA stand …..
And “the tractor of the show” for me ….. what an impressive machine!
You may need to “hover” in the bottom left corner to see the Play icon (arrow head), click on this to see a 39-second video of the two tractors above.
I didn’t hear the commentary about the photo above, but they looked brave.
The photo above was taken while we were clearing our site. As you can see, the guys next door to us were gone but we stayed until the end – working for the DPA! The other stall holders all had their vehicles on the show ground by this time, loading up to go home at the end of a good day, as usual, at Widecombe Fair.