Rallying round the engines in Denby

A flypast by the Battle of Britain memorial flight was one of the highlights at this year’s Belper Steam Rally.

The annual two-day event last weekend, which had to be re-scheduled last year due to rain from June to September, drew hundreds of people to Denby.

Rally chairman David Mellor, 70, of Belper, said the event enjoyed record figures because of the good weather. He said: “We haven’t had the figures from the gate - but the car park was full both days. I should think it’s the best gate we’ve ever had. Last year everything was rained off. We have had two years of winter so people were itching to get out. After four leans years - we’re lucky we’ve survived to be honest.”

The rally, which celebrates its 25th anniversary next year, started as a little gathering in Thornton’s car park following Belper councillor John Nelson’s ambitions to create a festival.

David said: “I never expected it to get this big. We are a company now. I must mad! I started this as a young man - but I am still the youngest one on the committee. They call us ‘Last of the Summer Wine!’”

To keep things fresh, David introduces new displays each year - featuring a popular display of heavy horses this time - and promises an ‘unusual surprise’ for next year.

He added: “I can’t fault any of the sections. We had an old baling machine which we saw in action and a racksaw bench that winds thorough a tree trunk - it’s the old fashioned way of sawing planks.

“We would like to thank everyone who comes and helps us - without them we wouldn’t be able to function.”

There were parades in the main arena, which featured steam engines, military motorcycles, tractors, vintage and classic cars.

There was also an ‘Olde Tyme Fair’, fair organs, along with trade and charity stalls and hot and cold refreshments.

Other special attractions included: steam lorries; demonstrations and scurries by the Dove Valley Gun Dog Display Team; dancing troupes, including the Heage Windmillers and Splitz Dance School; heritage farm working displays including a wood-sawing demonstration, country crafts, stonemason, threshing drum and working straw chopper; horse and vintage cart parades; amateur radio club; Ram Air Microlight Aircraft; showmans engines and steamrollers; general purpose engines; heavy haulage and plant vehicles; mini-steam engines and models; period caravans; stationary engines and military displays.

Children’s attractions included the Dream Ponies, Chester’s Showtime, face painting, old tyme fair rides, mini-Land Rovers, water boats and Woodie’s Wings Owl and Parrot Rescue.

The event was first established in 1989 as part of the Belper Festival fortnight.

Since it’s beginning, the event has grown and is now firmly established as one of the largest in the county.