What springs to your mind when you hear the word steam? The kettle boiling, ready for a steaming hot cuppa? A steaming hot bath? Or sauna maybe? Or, like me, do you think of the magnificent steam locomotives that used to be a regular sight on our railways?
My earliest memories of steam trains are those of going on holiday to far away climes, well, actually it was to the south coast of England but in those days that was an epic journey by train from where we lived. We would wait eagerly on the station platform, listening out for the chuff, chuff, chuff which told us the train was approaching. Then the smell of the engine, then finally the sight of this great noisy beast that was going to whisk us away for our annual holiday.
Sadly steam engines have all but disappeared from our railways nowadays but many have been restored and we are sometimes lucky enough to see one chuffing its way through our local railway station. A sight to behold. I love visiting the York railway museum where many of the most famous engines can be seen in all their glory.
Another sight to behold for lovers of steam is to be found at the various steam fairs which are held around the country. My favourite is the Great Dorset Steam Fair held annually over a period of five days. Everything steam can be found here - traction engines, steam lorries and road rollers, steam cars, even a steam driven funfair! It is such a huge event that in 2018 the fair gained a Guinness World Record for the largest display of steam powered vehicles, with a total of 520 full size steam engines on the 600 acre site.
Getting close up to these magnificent machines in action gives one an impression that they are living, breathing creatures and I cannot help but hope that steam engines will be around for future generations to admire and enjoy.
Contributed by Chris
(Published 18th Mar 2020)