Our Tour of England


| October/November 1996



Sheila and Westen

Sheila Wendel and Ed Westen pose before the 'engine shed' for the mine engine at Blist's Hill Open Air Museum near Iron-bridge. The ancient steam hoisting engine within actually operates under steam at various times during the day. This is but one of many

For Sheila and myself, the tour started a week early. We had long talked of visit with various friends in England, and so we left Chicago on June 12, arriving in Manchester the following morning. John Coventry of Wade Farm Tours met us at the airport and kindly took us over to Oasby, near Grantham, where we stayed for nearly a week with Royce Long land and his daughter, Angela. They escorted us all over the countryside, along with Ron Knight, who took us to some additional sights in Lincolnshire.

Decent farmland in Lincolnshire sells for $4,000 U.S. and up per acre, so farming is very intensive to make the investment pay. Accordingly, only the best technologies permit survival, and we saw more different farming methods than are used in the US. We also visited several very nice museums, and a great many of them feature implements, tractors, and other items related to the history of mechanized agriculture. There are also a few of the huge post mills left in Lincolnshire, and we saw one of these huge windmills that looked to be in occasional use, although it was closed, since we stopped there late on a Sunday afternoon. One could easily spend a day in Lincoln, and another in Stamford. After a week in Lincolnshire, Sheila and I concluded that one could easily spend an entire week in Lincolnshire and surrounding counties, given all the fine collections we saw.

Ron Knight and his wife hosted us one evening at their home, along with some other invited guests. Their hospitality was heartwarming indeed, and although Mrs. Knight insisted that we were 'just having tea,' it surely did remind us of a full-fledged meal that included numerous and very tasty culinary delights. Of course we all spent a fair amount of time among Ron's extensive collection of steam tractions and tractors.

Eventually though, it was time for us to make our way to Chester in anticipation of our tour group. Thus, we boarded the train at Grantham and went across to Crewe, where we had to change trains for the short journey to Chester. The train journey was interesting and enjoyable, albeit a bit expensive. After checking in at the Blossoms Hotel in Chester, Sheila and I were able to spend a day or so exploring this beautiful city. Then on June 21 we left about 5 a.m. to pick up our entourage at the Manchester airport. This done, we came back to Chester so everyone could check in and get a tiny bit of rest before going on a walking tour of the city.

On June 22, we left bright and early for the Tatton Park 1000 Engine Rally. This year they featured the Bam ford engines. The weather was kind to us, and we spent a full day at this gigantic show. Our hosts met us at the coach, pointed us to the hospitality tent, and bade us well as we scattered to all parts of the show grounds. There were engines of all sorts on exhibit, with the great majority of them restored and running. Unlike American shows, there was but a single John Deere 1 engine, plus a scattering of IHC, Fairbanks-Morse, and a few others. However, there was at least one Piker engine (built by Stover), and a number of Amanco (Associated) engines.

Their tractor display was extensive, and included some rather rare American makes, as well as some rare and unusual British tractors, including a Saunders. The afternoon auction was well attended, and while there were a few bargains, most items brought a good price, at least compared to the American market.