Dorset Steam Fair Swapmeet Report
Things were looking grim at the Great Dorset Steam Fair the day before the gates were due to open for another massive transport and heavy haulage extravaganza. All traffic movement on the site had been stopped as the ground became a slithering mud bath meaning many dealers could not get their stock on site.?Almost like a miracle, however, the rain slowly subsided and the chalky top soil began to harden enough to allow movement with extreme care mostly aided by an army of towing tractors.?So the show went on and, despite difficult ground conditions, it turned into yet another fabulous five days of buying and selling on this famous huge market and auto jumble.
Mud did not deter the crowds that flocked around the Oxford Diecast stand eager to get a glimpse of some of the fine new models this company had on offer. Selling well were the recently launched AEC Matador trucks in various liveries one of which actually appeared at the show. This was the showman’s tractor belonging to Harris brothers of Ashington which hauled their vintage chair-o-plane ride along the coast from Eastbourne the night before the show opened. These Oxford Matador’s will be popular with both 4mm fairground and military modellers alike who have had to rely on plastic Airfix cabs and chassis until this welcome breakthrough. Another welcome addition will be the Scammell Pioneer tractors due to be released by Oxford at a future date which should have similar appeal to the Matadors.
Victory models from Portsmouth was trading well as were Cleveland from Peterborough and Shakespeare from Bromsgrove which has traded well here for more than 30 years.
Over on the auto jumble the usual eclectic mix of trash and treasure gleaned some amazing bargains for early buyers including a Fry’s Five Boys chocolate enamel sign in reasonable condition that was a snip at £50. Other enamels on offer included a Raleigh Cycles man riding a bicycle priced at £200 and a Royal Daylight Lamp Oil sign showing a horse drawn oil bowser at a very reasonable £65. Toys are always plentiful here and the keen eye is sure to spot a few bargains.
Tom Price from Truro in Cornwall was selling a nice selection of old Dinky Toys at very reasonable prices ranging from £10 - £30 each. Some had been repainted but still retained a real charm as the painting had been done many years ago.
Nigel Mills from Banbury in Oxfordshire had an interesting display of boxed toys and TV related material includding a super boxed set of Coronation Street tumblers each with a picture of one of those famous old Rovers Return regulars from the early 1960s. This rare item not surprisingly carried a £90 price tag.
Farm related material is hugely popular at Dorset and several traders reported excellent sales of tractors old and new. A near mint Corgi Fordson Major with plough in excellent condition but no box had to be a bargain at £12 and was snapped up right before my eyes, while a boxed Lesney 1-75 Massey Harris also in great nick was another quick seller at £55.
It certainly was a victory for tractor power, without them this show would have been in serious trouble, but thankfully the final four days were mainly dry and sunny and most exhibitors were able to drive off the site without assistance.