A walkabout around a slightly eccentric English Steam and Vintage Rally

in Photography3 months ago (edited)

This post is probably completely out of my norm. Normally I shoot models, urbex and lightpainting but this is a selection of steam powered traction engines and vintage cars. Completely out of my comfort zone and probably a slightly odd thing to post amongst techno-geeks with cryptocurrency speak everywhere!

One of the reasons I may be interested in this kind of rally is because my long departed grandfather was a serious fairground machinery enthusiast. As a child I use to visit and the old boy would be in his front room listening to fairground organ music. Not particulary calm stuff to listen to but he liked it!

Every year in South Anston in the English county of South Yorkshire, a Steam and Vintage Rally is held around the end of June. This year (2022) is the first one for 3 years due to Covid so this year I made an effort to have a wander around and see what I could capture.

This post is also an example of a "one lens" shoot in that I deliberately travel light with only one lens, in this case a Sony 20mm f1.8 FE lens with it's shallow depth of field. Using only one lens forces me to think a bit more creatively and not cheat with something like a 24-105 zoom.

An early form of pick up truck?

This is a traction engine from the turn of the 20th Century. It's designed to travel on the road but isn't particularly as fast as the petrol powered motor car which literally overtook it! This chap is busy polishing his brass!

It's also interesting to see the name Foden which went on to become a major truck manufacturer, sadly now defunct.


John Fowler & Co Engineers Ltd

This is a side view of an agricultural traction engine. These were used in various agricultural modes in much the same way as a JCB tractor in modern times. These things were never fast but they could go off road in the fields and drive along roads.


12 foot tall

Using the 20mm lens looking up makes this traction engine look even taller!


Spit and Polish

These traction engines are seriously well looked after by their custodians. They must be buying one heck of a lof of Brasso!



If I were to crash into one of these traction engines on the road they would certainly be invincible!


Steam Power!

Not the cryptocurrency but the old style of steam power generating electricity!


Chain Steering

These big old heavy machines weren't particularly complicated. This photo shows the low tech needed to steer the engine.


By Royal Letters Patent

I love a vintage sign and I have to say I'd probably have done a better job shining this plaque with Brasso!


Fairground Organ

This is a close up view of a steam powered fairground organ. In the rear of all the pipes and mechanical parts is a punched hole card reader. The operator feeds in a long card with punched holes in specific places and is an early form of binary code or computer. What is quite interesting is that someone must still be programming and making these cards because the music playing was fairly modern. I didn't stick around long as these organs are damned loud!



After you walk past the many steam powered vehicles, you find plenty of vintage cars. I was using just a 20mm f1.8 lens and concentrated on the details rather than the whole car. The middle insignia looks like a REME badge (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers).


The Leaping Jaguar

I used a wide aperture for the very shallow depth of field but the colour behind was a bit distracting so I converted to monochrome.



I've worked in the UK motor trade all my working life and I've never heard of Thames as a motor vehicle manufacturer. The badge looks vagualy similar to Fords....



Another British motor manufacturer ruined by unions and poor build quality. In the early days the craftsmanship was excellent....


Side Car

Now I have to say I wouldn't be seen dead in this motorcycle side car! I initially thought this was a very typically English eccentric late 60's or early 70's design but then I saw the Honda badge. Maybe it was the Japanese's fault!


I shall be back next year and probably with a different lens next time.

About me:
I usually specialise in shooting lightpainting images but occasionally dabble in urbex and artistic model photography. I'm always on the lookout for someone to collaborate with; please don't hesitate to get in touch if you'd like to create art.

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@cathgothard this is what I meant by the one lens thing :-)


Not only a one lens thing, but a prime lens too! Nice collection of photos Chris. :)

Thanks, I must admit on this occasion I was having a FOMO nightmare haha. 35mm? 50mm? 85mm goddamit lol