Sorry to keep prattling on about the Great Dorset Steam Fair but it is foremost in my mind at the moment as I had hoped to visit this year, but as it’s the last day tomorrow I realise I’m now going to have to forgo the experience. I have been there in spirit though via the virtual world of the internet and keeping track of all that has been (or not been) happening.

Great Dorset Steam Fair 2012This year, for the first time in a very long while, the mud has been extreme. Indeed the rain was so bad on the first day of the event that all movement on the field was suspended and there was very little activity, most of the major exhibits remaining sheeted up for the whole day which generated a lot of criticism on the Traction Engine forum. Lack of vehicular activity didn’t stop the ground from turning into pea-soup though with hundreds of visitors braving the weather trampling up and down the vast site churning the ground into a semi-liquid state. The rain eventually stopped and by the following morning the glutinous scene shown here confronted visitors. Thanks to Paul on flickr for allowing me to use this photo.

Although mud hasn’t been a serious problem for some years it was not always so, back in the 1970s when the show was held (on another site) at the end of September it was regularly muddy and I have photographs of 1976 and 1977 which show extreme conditions, but my negatives indicate that 1975 was a moderate year for Dorset mud!

I first visited the Dorset show in 1975, back then it wasn’t called the Great Dorset Steam Fair but was known as the Great Working of Steam Engines, 1975 being the seventh such event. I went with a coach party of other engine enthusiasts but nobody had warned me about the mud and I guess I never even thought about it so was a bit disconcerted when I arrived at the pick-up point and everyone was wearing wellington boots or else carrying them in a bag. At the time I hadn’t owned a pair of wellingtons since I had been a young teenager, so in ordinary leisure shoes and decent trousers I carefully picked my way round the muddiest of places, but that didn’t stop me from taking loads of photos though.

Deep in my archive lurks my negative collection, photographs I’ve taken since 1960 when I had my first camera, many of these negatives have only been printed once and never been seen again, and so it is with most of my early Dorset shots. Time then to let some of these negatives see the light of day, well, the light of the scanner at least, so I’ve chosen my first visit in 1975 as the theme for today’s blog. Hope you enjoy the atmosphere of this 1970s event with just a small selection of my photographs!


The photographs are all presented in square format, this would suggest that I had taken them on a medium format camera, this is not so, they were taken with a Minolta SRT303 with 50mm lens but for some reason most of the pictures were taken in portrait format with lots of sky and too much empty foreground so I have cropped them square to create a vintage feel! Clicking on the photos will enlarge them in a new window or tab. For the technically minded I used Ilford FP4 film, but my records on this occasion don’t state what developer I used. On flickr you can see my GDSF photos for 2011.