Page through the 2009 Farm Collector Show Directory and you’ll find plenty of shows featuring a great variety of steam engines. But among all of the Case, Minneapolis and Russell engines you’re likely to find at these shows, it’s highly unlikely you’ll see the likes of an Allchin, Ottomeyer or Fowler steam engine. Unless, of course, you attend one of the many popular steam shows in the United Kingdom.
|1911 Burrell road locomotive at the 2008 Great Dorset Steam Fair. Photo from SteamScenes.org.|
If a trip to the U.K. isn’t in the cards for you this summer, one website might be able to satisfy your curiosity in all things steam, European style. As described, SteamScenes.org is the largest collection of traction engine pictures on the Internet. Their collection contains pictures of steam traction engines taken at steam rallies, road runs and within museums across the UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. I found the engine gallery to be particularly interesting, as I found photos of several engines I’d never heard of. I could have easily spent hours looking through the thousands of photos in that gallery alone.
If you enjoy looking through photos but would rather see these beautiful engines on the move, I suggest you head over to YouTube and check out the SteamTraction.com video index. There, you can check out footage from various European steam shows or look for specific European-made steam engines.
And after all of that, if you’d like an even more interesting glimpse of the steam engine lifestyle in the U.K., you’ll be hard-pressed to beat the documentary The Moon and the Sledgehammer. Considered a cult-classic among film buffs, this short documentary was made in 1971 and follows the everyday life of an English family living in the woods. As the trailer describes them: “They have no gas, electricity or running water and manage to sustain a self-sufficient lifestyle. As each family member reveals their own personal philosophy, the film carefully pieces together a portrait of a group that are not phased by modern society.”
|Mr. Page, the patriarch of the family featured in the 1971 English documentary The Moon and the Sledgehammer.|
Steam engine buffs will be thrilled to watch the several minutes of Allchin and Fowler footage, but other than that, the difficult to understand dialogue and meandering narrative might turn off some. Personally, I thought the film was fascinating and enjoyable to watch but I have to include the aforementioned disclaimer before recommending it to a steam engine enthusiast. Of course, you can decide for yourself by watching the trailer. And if you decide you’d like to take chance and watch the entire film, it’s available on DVD.