Stoke Goldington

Our Proud History

Local Steam Rallies

At the turn of the twentieth century, steam was big business in Stoke Goldington. This was mainly because of the activities of the Whiting Brothers; local farmers who ran their businesses at Moulsoe, Castlethorpe, Lathbury and Stoke. Not only did they run their farms but they undertook contract ploughing and harvesting over a wide area of the local countryside. At their peak they had four pairs of ploughing engines and 10 sets of threshing tackle; they were the forerunners of the modern agricultural contractors. Their main repair yard was at George Inn Farm, Stoke Goldington.

The first local Steam Rally took place in 1975 in Weston Underwood. Organised to raise funds for the renovation of the Village Hall, the first Rally was a great success both in its organisation and fundraising. But 1976 was a disaster. Constant rain in the preceding weeks turned the field into a sea of thick mud. The Rally lost a lot of money and the Weston Underwood Committee reluctantly decided to call it a day.

Steam Engine Landscape Smokey

In 1976 the Stoke Goldington Village Hall opened and its new Committee decided to take advantage of the available slot in the Steam Rally Calendar to organise its own event. Francis Whiting, grandson of one of the original Whiting brothers, made land available at his farm at Gayhurst, and so the first of the present series of Rallies, The Gayhurst Park Steam and Vintage Rally, took place on
14 -15 May 1977.

 The First Stoke Rally

By today's standards, the first Stoke Goldington Steam Rally was small - more of a country fair. But it was sound enough to create a good foundation on which to build for the future. Principal features included: 10 large Steam Engines, 8 stationary engines, 14 vintage tractors, one vintage car, and one fairground organ. In addition there was a Dog Show (judged by Crufts' judge Edric Watton assisted by Alan Brookes), music supplied by the Stantonbury Brass Band Ensemble, a beagle display organised by the Master of the Oakley FoxHounds, a marching display accompanied by the Royal Pioneer Corps of Drums, a Morris Dancing display, pony rides and fly fishing by the lake.

There were also charity stalls, a refreshment tent and bar, a Fish and Chip van and a small funfair. The Sunday programme opened with a short church service. The whole event was a great success. The crowds enjoyed themselves, the event made a profit, and the seal was set.

In 1978 the Rally was again held at Gayhurst, but in 1979 the need for a larger field caused a move to West Side Farm, Stoke Goldington at the kind invitaion of Mr George Nicholls, where it has remained to date. Since then the Rally has gone from strength to strength, getting bigger and more diverse each year. Apart from 2001, when the dreaded Foot and Mouth epidemic put paid to the whole event, recent shows have enjoyed record numbers of visitors, bigger and better attractions and increasingly professional organisation.

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