Great War Steam Fair at the Beamish Museum
April 5th-8th saw the Essex venturing far to the North, visiting the wonderful Beamish Museum in County Durham. So far north that snow fell as the advance party arrived to set up, a thankfully rare occurrence in the 10th Essex annals.
After a day’s “show and tell” the unit got down to some training, not only for themselves but the Gordon Highlanders as well. Corporal Gage drilled the combined unit under the watchful eyes of Capt Thrush and CSM Weaver. Richie Parsons drummed up family recruits with some electrifying presentations while Jap Longstaff reminded us all of the human costs of warfare with his RAMC battlefield medicine display.
The Saturday proved challenging as our display area succumbed to the rain and became a boggy morass more suited to the nastier parts of Flanders. Sharing our pitch was 29th Field Kitchen who kept up to the task of feeding us and the other groups manfully as we slipped and slid around camp. For new recruits Charles and Gareth (henceforth to known as Mess-Tin after downing a quart of tea at breakfast with a spoon) the event proved a great chance to polish their skills in drill, bull and blarney and we are delighted to welcome them into the ranks.
A welcome addition to the ranks was the well-travelled form of “Aussie” Dave Howells, fresh off the plane from Dublin and within 24 hours found himself on a charge thus keeping up the honour of the AIF admirably! Persistent rumours of ball tampering just wouldn’t go away…..
A very convivial evening was spent in a 1900s miner’s cottage as the group settled in to session of good ale and tall tales around the glowing coals of the kitchen range, aided by the cooks as we all dried out after the day’s rains.
Those with period bikes were in for a treat, sharing the circular roadway with an assortment of Great War civilian and military vehicles . A highlight for us was riding on the top deck of a 1912 Maidstone and District open top bus which served in France from 1915. Feedback from the organisers was very positive and it was noted that while certain other groups scampered for cover when the rain came, the Essex stuck to their posts and sallied forth to keep the crowds entertained.
All in all, a very successful venture and hopefully a regular new event added to the calendar!