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Aug 7, 2017
The Cumbria Steam Gathering
Jul 1, 2017
Less than one month to go
Mar 16, 2017

Entries for 2017 will close in two weeks time

 

The History of the Society

PlowingDuring the late 1950s and throughout the 60s, Traction engine rallies were becoming established in various parts of the country but in the Cumbria area these tended to be small local “steam ups” where some of the old hands who had owned or worked with steam and still had an engine would get together, raise steam, have a trundle round the block and a good natter. The more formal events such as those at Levens Hall south of Kendal attracted visitors in considerable numbers but were seen, rightly or wrongly, as being entry by invitation only. It was becoming apparent that there was a growing body of preservationists that had interesting old vehicles but had no means of displaying these to the public and so, on New Years Day 1973, a group of enthusiasts came together in a shed at Newby near Penrith and took the decision to form a club with the intention of organising a steam and vintage vehicle rally. A general meeting was advertised to be held in St. Andrews Parish rooms at Penrith to formally launch the project, enrol members and elect an organising body. There was a huge response. Kendal was to be the site and the Westmorland County Show committee was to be approached with a view to renting their permanent site on the outskirts of the town. The rally was to be the main function of the organisation but plans were also put in place to hold monthly social meetings with invited speakers, slide shows etc., and a quarterly newsletter would be circulated to the membership. The title of the organisation, it was felt, should reflect the philosophy and aims of the society which was (and is) that all aspects of preservation should be catered for, from steam engines to collections of memorabilia and everything in between. The name of the event was another subject for discussion but as the original September date coincided with the annual Kendal Gathering, the Cumbria Steam Gathering seemed an appropriate choice. There was to be no discrimination between classes of exhibit, first come first served, a vintage Bentley would not take precedence over an Austin Seven or a traction engine over a Ferguson tractor, another of those early policies that have continued throughout the history of the event.

The first event in 1973 attracted 165 exhibits one of which was a railway locomotive, ex British Gypsum Kirkby Thore works shunter, stored at Carnforth and part owned by Dick Lacy who was the original event secretary. Following the success of this first event, it was decided that in order to protect the members against any financial crisis, the club should be formed into a Limited Company. This was duly carried out and Cumbria Steam & Vintage Vehicle Society Limited was incorporated in November 1974. The rally continued to be held in September until the 1978 event, when a new date was decided upon. Hopefully this would ensure more favourable weather conditions plus the benefits of longer days and the influx of visitors to the nearby Lake District at the start of the school holidays. After much discussion, the new date was fixed for the last weekend in July. The event continued to gain in popularity and by 1985 the catalogue listed 863 entries. This was to be the last of the Kendal rallies as the organisers were informed that the show field would not be available to the Society for 1986. This news was greeted with a fair amount of consternation, however the old Cark airfield at Flookburgh was found to be available and the event moved to it`s present location for the 1986 rally, seemingly unharmed in spite of the upheaval of having to contend with a new site.

Steam EngineThe Society is affiliated to a number of national organisations namely, The National Traction Engine Trust, The Society of Ploughmen and the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs. The National Traction Engine Trust provide a Code of Practise which assists rally organisers in running well-managed and safe events and was largely developed from Health and Safety courses presented by former HSE inspectors and CSVVS members Tim Holt and Mike Garstang. It is fair to say that this document represents the organisers “Bible” for rallies throughout the UK.

The Society organises a vintage ploughing day in October run to rules laid down by the Society of Ploughmen who run the annual national ploughing championship each year. Periodically our event is selected to be the local qualifying round for competitors who wish to progress to the Nationals and, if they are really good, on to the World Ploughing Championships. This is an aspect of preservation which continues to grow in popularity and is one where there is a steady influx of younger participants.

The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs was formed to intercept legislation which may have a detrimental effect on the operation of vintage vehicles on public roads. They have set up lobbies within the Westminster parliament and in Brussels and have been very effective since their inception, in spotting ill conceived proposals that could, without amendment, have sounded the death knell on some of our activities.

In addition to the monthly meetings and the newsletter, the Society is able to offer public liability insurance for exhibitors of static (not covered by road traffic act) items. Cumbria Steam & Vintage Vehicle Society Ltd are proud to have been one of the first organisations to be able to offer this facility to the members.

We celebrated our 40th anniversary Steam Gathering in 2012 which was organised, as have all the others, with same basic objectives to those in place when we first started out, an event which encompasses all aspects of preservation.

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