In 2020 we’ll be celebrating 40 years of visiting Pinkneys Green in Maidenhead.
We love taking our vintage fair on tour around the south of England, but there is one event in particular which we all hold close to our hearts. Each year in May we visit Pinkneys Green in Maidenhead for our Steam Spectacular event. At this event we use the finest steam traction engines in the UK to help us power the rides and we even do a vintage vehicle road run around the town. We know that local families have made it an annual tradition to visit and we love being a part of so many family traditions.
2020 – a double celebration
This year, our weekend at Pinkneys Green coincides with the Friday bank holiday on the 8th of May. That means we can hold the fair over three days instead of our usual two and that we can celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory for Europe (VE day). We will also be celebrating our 40th funfair at Pinkneys – when John and Anna Carter first started restoring rides all those years ago, they had no idea that Carters Steam Fair would grow to be the internationally recognised fair that it is today! 2020 is the 40th year since they held their first standalone fairground event of their own.
We will be marking this double anniversary with our biggest event ever- not only will you be able to see the fair powered by the finest working steam engines in the UK, but across the three-day weekend we’ll be celebrating all things 40s and vintage with live music, free fireworks, retro themed fancy dress and some extra vintage themed live bands and entertainment. There will also be our traditional vintage road run and we are hoping to be joined by some extra special guests.
Pinkneys Green 2019 in Photos.
If you’ve not been to our Pinkneys Green event before, then here’s what happened in 2019:
An art and history tour of the fair
On the Friday night before the fair opened to the public, Joby Carter did a walking tour around the fair talking about the history of the rides and how his family have restored them all using traditional signwriting techniques. The rides date from the 1890s to the 1960s and Joby and the Carters team do a huge amount of research, tracking down original photos and documents to understand what the rides would have looked like when they were new. At their yard in White Waltham they then restore and paint everything by hand using traditional signwriting techniques so that future generations can enjoy the fair in pristine condition, just as people would have done years ago.
The evening tour was interrupted by the arrival of a steam traction engine – a beautiful sight to see!
A vintage vehicle parade
On the Saturday morning before the fair opened, there was a vintage vehicle parade from Pinkneys Green which travelled down to the riverside and then back again. Some Maidenhead residents were able to see the action from their door-step but others lined the streets and waved as we went past. People were able to see the traction engines up close and the brightly painted vintage Scammell trucks which we use to transport and power the fair.
If you’ve not heard of them before, Scammell trucks are British commercial vehicles which are a kind of tractor – a ‘ballast tractor’ that were made between 1921 and 1988 and we have nine of them in the Carters family. The Showtrac Scammells are a rare version of these trucks that were bespoke built by Scammell especially for showmen to transport and power their rides. Only 18 Showtrac Scammells were ever made and we have three of these unique vehicles on the road at the moment. (You can read more about fairground vehicles in our fairground phrases wordsearch and on our rides page)
We’ll be doing a Road Run in 2020 – you can get a great view of the vehicles as they leave and enter the fairground at Pinkneys Green and you’ll be able to get a route map from our Facebook page closer to the event. You can read more about the road run on the Maidenhead Mum blog – she bought her kids along to watch.
Steam powered fun for everyone to enjoy
Advances in technology were reflected at fairgrounds and while some rides remained powered by steam, others were powered by diesel generators too. Our rides span 70 years so we have a mix of steam, diesel and even some that are powered by hand! When we take the fair on tour the Gallopers and Steam Yachts are always powered by steam but at our Steam Spectacular event we. power nearly all of the rides by steam. It’s a full sensory experience. Whether it’s the hiss of the steam or the smell, it’s certainly like stepping back in time. And they are a truly beautiful sight to behold.
These days we take it for granted that we can travel at speed but when steam engines were introduced to fairgrounds in the 1860’s they caused quite a stir – rides could go much faster than when they were powered by hand. In their day-to-day lives, Victorians tended to travel by foot or horse and cart so things that travelled fast were a rather thrilling prospect. Motor cars weren’t commonly owned yet so for many people, riding on a steam powered ride would have been the fastest that many of them had ever travelled. A visit to the fair would also have been the first experience of electric lights which were powered by the steam engines at first.
We’ll be sharing more information about our big plans for 2020 soon and if you’d like to be the first to hear about the programme of entertainment that we have planned you can sign up to get emails about the event. If you have a vintage vehicle or would like to be a part of our commemorative event, please get in touch with us.