The commercial life of traction engines and steam wagons largely came to an end in the 1950s and early 1960s. It was also at this time that preservation and display in the form of rallies came into being. It is generally acknowledged that the traction engine rally scene has its origins in a race between two engine-owning farmers at Appleford, Berkshire in August 1950\. The rally movement soon grew as area preservation societies were formed. Some of these early societies and rallies continued to flourish and a number of these have now celebrated fifty or more years of activity, albeit not always on the same site throughout. Other rallies flourished for a while but then ceased for varying reasons. There have also been a number of one-off events. The initial concept of rallies has developed over the years. Instead of just ring events many now try to incorporate working areas where the different types of engines can be demonstrated doing the tasks for which they were built. This book features a number of these rallies, starting with some of the early events of the 1950s and 1960s. Then a few one-off events are featured, followed by looking at some of the rallies that no longer take place, and finishing with examples of those that are still flourishing. It aims to show something of the individual character of each rally, and some of the highlights of events that the author has visited over the last fifty years.
Malcolm Batten is a retired librarian with a lifelong interest in transport. He has been photographing contemporary and preserved transport subjects since 1969 and is the author of more than twenty books on transport history. He first took photographs at a traction engine rally in 1972 and has visited many such rallies, some still ongoing, others long ceased over the last fifty years. In this book he tells of their origin and the characteristics of different rallies.