Nobody could accuse Tunstead or Sco-Ruston of having leapt, feet first, into the 21st Century. Perhaps, I sense, a tentative foot has been placed there but, with a few exceptions, little more. At least, not as a community as a whole.
And why should we ? After all community and kindred spirit is best built on ‘real experiences’ and memories shared and enjoyed, not some virtual reality of the technological age. Yes, I know the irony in my writing here (!) but it is with this thought in mind that I hope to stir fond memories, at least amongst the older generations, of times gone by in Tunstead.
Even those of us who are outsiders have heard of the famed Tunstead Trosh, even if we never got to visit this iconic gathering of steam locomotives and agricultural one-offs. Imagine my delight then when, by chance, I stumbled across a vintage edition of ‘Old Glory‘ magazine which professed to contain an account of the Tunstead Trosh from 1999. (Technology does have it’s uses – thanks ebay).
Of course, I had to acquire it ! After a quick transaction and a couple of emails with the magazine, they have kindly allowed me to reproduce the article here. Of course, the Trosh has long since ceased running, following the departure of Billy Bird to the great steam locomotive shed in the sky but I hope the article brings back some fond memories and if you have your own to share, or photos. from past Troshes, then do please get in contact via the website and share your stories.
A Thoroughly Enjoyable Trosh
Report on the 1999 ‘Tunstead Trosh’
Horse power in harmony as the Suffolk Punch team of Lad (bay) and Samson 9grey) remind onlookers of how ploughing used to be done
Although there had been an abysmal weather forecast for the weekend the rain stayed away for this year’s ‘Tunstead Trosh’ event at Billy Bird’s farm at Tunstead, Norfolk on October 9/10 . The sun even put in a fleeting appearance.
Some 3,500 spectators attended although exhibitors in some sections, particularly cars and motorcycles, seemed slightly fewer in number compared with recent years. Teamed once more with Bill Bird’s own sawbench, itself over a century old and converted from static to mobile was 1924 Foster 6nhp single cylinder agricultural engine No. 14422, which had been owned by Ruth Groom from Hannington near Kettering since 1964. Maintained by Andy Potter of Holt, Norfolk it is rallied regularly.
1924 Foster Traction Engine, No. 14422 coupled with Billy Bird’s Saw Bench
Another steam engine in attendance was Bill’s own 1911 Allchin traction engine No. 1527 Felicity (CF3650) which he bought in February. The ‘Trosh’ is the kind of rally where smaller machines often overlooked at larger events can be appreciated, and these ranged from a Harrison McGregor ‘Albion’ model 3B mill No. 32 (unusual in that it combines the function of a roller mill for oats etc. with that of a plate mill for flour-milling) to a 1949 Gunsmith tractor powered by a 6hp Briggs & Stratton engine.
This 1946 6hp British Anzani ‘Iron Horse’ tractor was totally rebuilt by owner, Gary Butcher of Lowestoft
1950 BMB Ploughmate, owned by Brian Hannant of North Walsham, on its first outing since being bought from Tunstead’s Billy Bird.
This unusual 1945 Opperman Motorcart, partly restored but not authentic. It is powered by a 6hp JAP single-cylinder engine and was regularly rallied in Norfolk and East Anglia
The hilarious antics of Dennis of Grunty Fen brought more than a smile or two and the event raised a considerable amount for charity.
Dennis of grunty Fen at the 1999 Tunstead Trosh
Wellie or won’t he ? 57-year-old ‘Dennis of Grunty Fen’, as he’s known to all, is one of East Anglia’s better-known characters.
Having worked in a wide variety of jobs from verger to gardener, he started entertaining as a hobby 12 years ago, and this grew into a full-time job. A regular broadcaster on Radio Cambridgeshire, he rides a beautifully-restored 1896 Singer tricycle towing a trailer which was decorated for him by a traditional gypsy artist several years ago. One of the last of the real Norfolk ‘characters’ he delights audiences with his musical saw (inset), humorous wooden leg routine, songs and stories.
Reproduced with kind permission of ‘Old Glory‘
steam and vintage preservation magazine.