The last weekend in December usually sees an annual pilgrimage of steam enthusiasts to Preston Services of Canterbury in Kent. There is little else on at this time of year and its a good excuse for a get together and a chat as well as to view the engines on offer for sale and the engines that are resident on site
On exiting the car park the first items on offer were immediately visible. A Fowler Ploughing Engine sat next to recently built (Dawsons of Bicker/Wm Foster & Co) Foster Wellington Tractor in among several small gauge railway locos. Around the yard were several foreign built engines including a large Avery which has been available for some time. Its a big beast and that fact coupled with its foreign credentials perhaps make it less desirable than other engines on the market presently (there are still a large number of Ruston exports on site as well)
The main shed home to ‘portable alley’ did not disappoint, a large number of the small engines being present. At the end of the rows of portables were Foden Wagon ‘Britannia’ (of round the world fame) and the former Bressingham Steam Museum Sentinel Timber Tractor ‘Brutus’ which has been repainted in green. Also in this shed were the stock of traction engines but oddly it was not possible to inspect these as they had been parked so tightly together as to make access impossible. These engines included a Davey Paxman and Burrell Single Crank Compound ‘Pride of the South Hamms’. On leaving the shed Fowler B6 Road Locomotive ‘The Lion’ could be viewed, this engine is not part of the stock of the firm having been sold several years ago, it is stored on site by its new owner
Sitting in a separate compartment of the shed were the ex Tom Varley Atkinson Steam Wagon along with another Wagon by Leyland and the Burrell Showmans ‘Princess Mary’.
Down in the main yard was the star of the show Fowler 7857 a recent discovery from Africa. Originally ordered as a Showmans the order was changed and it was exported to Africa as a Road Locomotive with a pillar crane on the front. The engine has three speeds and is sprung making it a very attractive proposition and indeed it is rare for such an engine to be discovered. It will need an awful lot of work to get it in steam again.
Also around the yard were Foster 3710, Marshall ‘The Brigadier’ and a host of rollers. Sitting inside the barn were Burrell Showmans ‘Vanguard’ and a very attractive 6” Burrell Gold Medal Tractor