There is no better area at the Show to walk down memory lane than the Heritage Section. The vehicles are all polished and preened for the thousands of visitors who walk past saying “my dad had one of those’, ‘that was my first car’, ‘they don’t make them like they used to’. All familiar conversations that people have in the area, but without doubt for young and old the majestic, magnificent steam engines are the most popular. Although they are not something we drove as our first car, or remember a great uncle driving at the start of the transport revolution, we still find ourselves looking on in admiration at these huge machines slowly moving in puffs of smoke.
The actual invention of the steam engine is a topic of debate, with many different people being identified as the ‘father of steam’. In fact in many ways, who is not as relevant as how and why. In the history books James Watt is often cited as the inventor of steam but the truth is that a great number of men invented steam driven devices prior to 1767. Denis Papin developed a pressure cooker, Thomas Savery a water pump and Thomas Newcomen the first steam engine. In the modern world steam power in the form of steam turbines, still drives almost all electrical generation, whether nuclear fuelled or coal.
This year we will be celebrating a number of steam engines that have reached their centenary. Proudly on display and built in 1917, a Burrell general purpose engine called the “Queen Mary’ and two Fowler ploughing engines called ‘Sir John and ‘Wilbur’. These engines will be steaming up to parade in the Heritage Ring. Check the Show ‘Plan your Day’ feature for specific times.