Held at Longleat House on the weekend of 20th and 21st June 1981, I believe this was the second stationary engine rally to be held at this location, the previous one in 1979. Organised by the then editor of Stationary Engine magazine the rally was to promote the cause of engine collecting, restoration and preservation. The aim was to attract as many as 1000 engines to the site and this show was the forerunner of the 1000 Engine Rally subsequently held at Tatton Park in Cheshire and still held on the same weekend to this day!

Poster for the 1981 Stationary Engine Rally at Longleat

In the photograph we see my 1925 Lister “N” type stationary engine with Longleat House as a backdrop. This engine was the largest I ever took to rallies but was not the largest in my collection at that time. Weighing 12½ cwt bare engine, that is without tanks, frame, wheels and fittings, which when all attached brought the total weight to 15 cwt, quite a lump to be towing around the country on a trailer.

1925 Lister "N" type stationary engine at Longleat in 1981

The engine had been restored when I acquired it but had lain in a collector’s shed for some while gathering dust and grime and had to have considerable elbow-grease applied to bring it back to show condition. I also had to remount it on a trolley for ease of transportation. This was my usual rally exhibit for a number of years and visited shows all round the country, as far north as Yorkshire and as far east as London and the home counties.

I’d like to show you a photograph of the souvenir plaque but it was screen printed on thin brass and over the years the print has been polished away and I now have just a blank piece of brass. In the early 1990s I decided to part with most of my collection of Lister engines and this “N” type was one of the first to leave. It was purchased by a collector in the Swindon area and since then I’ve never seen it on a rally field.