Steam spectacular wows crowds

GIANT steam engines of the past continued to pull in the crowds at the weekend despite a rally moving from north Suffolk for the first time in its 29-year history.

GIANT steam engines of the past continued to pull in the crowds at the weekend despite a rally moving from north Suffolk for the first time in its 29-year history.

The Grand Henham Steam Rally could not be held at Henham Park, between Halesworth and Southwold, this year as the Aussie Earl of Stradbroke has put the entire 4,200-acre estate up for sale.

Organisers of the rally decided to hold the event at the Royal Norfolk Showground, near Norwich, and this weekend their decision was vindicated with what is expected to be record crowds attending.

Roger King, one of the rally organisers, said: "We have been very fortunate to have had two such beautiful days and there is no doubt that the sunshine has helped to attract many visitors.


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"The Saturday attendance was slightly down on last year but this has been made up for with the crowds simply flooding in today."

Last year's rally attracted 14,000 people over two days and when the final figures are checked it is likely that a new record will have been set.

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Despite the success of the event in Norfolk the rally will be returning to Suffolk to celebrate its 30th anniversary although it will not be at Henham.

"We have had some very favourable comments about the rally being held at the Norfolk showground although some people would prefer the rally to be held in a parkland setting.

"Next year's rally will be held at Benacre Park near Wrentham and we hope that the parkland atmosphere associated with Henham will be recreated," said Mr King.

The 2004 rally will be special to many steam engine enthusiasts as it celebrates 30 years of attracting crowds and displaying how the giant machines played such an important role in shaping the industrial and agricultural heritage of this country.

"We are very grateful to Sir Timothy and Lady Gooch for giving us permission to hold the 2004 rally at Benacre.

"Everyone is looking forward to returning to north Suffolk but we cannot take anything away from being here in Norfolk this weekend as it has definitely been a great success," said Mr King.

As well as the many steam engines of all shapes and sizes there were record entries in other classes including vintage cares and trade stands.

The Ken Fox Wall of Death proved popular with many visitors and there were also a large selection of craft and refreshment stalls.

The event is held to raise money for a number of north Suffolk charities and organisations and this year the East Anglian Air Ambulance will also be among the beneficiaries.

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