Basingstoke Festival of Transport


Lorries, historic military vehicles, amphibious craft, buses, fire engines, ambulances, vintage commercial vehicles, traction engines, tractors, classic cars, sports cars, hotrods, trikes, motorcycles, motorised bicycles…literally every form of wheeled transport imaginable was represented somewhere here. Add a couple of dozen auto jumble stalls, a few selling collectable models, tools, workshop clothing etc, plus plenty of food & drink stands. Throw in some warm sunshine & a huge grassy park surrounded by trees to hold it all in & you’ve got the recipe for a great afternoon’s entertainment.
Now in it’s 15th year, the Thornycroft Society’s transport festival has grown into a huge event. Over 20,000 people attended this year, with more than 800 vehicles on show. For a one day event lasting only 6 hours, that’s on a par with most rock festivals! Surprisingly though, it doesn’t seem to attract much media attention beyond the local newspaper.
Thornycrofts were once a major employer in the town, building heavy lorries for three quarters of a century. Now long since gone, their factory site is occupied by a supermarket, with only a section of the overhead crane gantry preserved on a plinth outside the petrol station to mark the spot where it once stood. There are plans to mount the factory clock tower on a nearby roundabout, which would be a fitting monument for a company that gave work to so many Basingstoke residents over the years. The vehicle preservation society exists to find & restore as many examples of the marque as they can & quite a few found their way to the War Memorial Park for this event. Their website will be up & running soon at:
This is a local event for me so I stroll over to the park every year for a mooch around the auto jumble & to wander through the assembled ranks of automobilia, armed with my camera & a hotdog. I’m always amazed at how many vehicle societies there are in the area, catering for everything from scooters to buses, from Volkswagens to armoured cars. Whatever your chosen mode of transport, you’ll find an enthusiastic band of owners here happy to show you around their pride & joy & chat about those hard to find pinions, trunnions & gudgeons. As virtually everyone I know is connected to the world of bikes & cars in some way, this is a good chance to catch up with old friends too. Forum members Janie_Postie & Dave_Postie were there in their much loved mark 2 Consul; Lunatic & his parents were showing their “Psycho Triko” trike on the “Happy Daze” VW club’s stand, along with fellow Posties Marc & Phil’s cars; Triker Pete & his family had travelled up from the New Forrest & my old friend Den had brought his newly revamped Reliant trike up from the South Coast, now fully rebuilt after being destroyed in an electrical fire a few years ago; local biker Bob was showing his Harley, having left his collection of classic Triumphs at home this year: Leon spent the day fending off curious show-goers’ questions about his bubble car; Chris was there with his just completed custom scooter. Lots of familiar faces. I even bumped into my ex wife. She’d spent years travelling around owners’ club rallies with me in my 3 Morris Minors, (my old branch, the Surrey & Hants Borders, had a display here). Now remarried, she was proudly displaying her own Moggy saloon! I’ve shown my trikes & bikes here in previous years, but spending too long working on other people’s vehicles meant I was here as a pedestrian this time. Maybe next year we can add a few more trikes to the display.
I don’t know why, but people get very passionate about their vehicles. Everyone I spoke to had stories to tell of the search for those elusive parts, mechanical disasters & memorable journeys. All will tell you their particular make & model is the most sought after, the most reliable, the most beautiful -& all are right. This is a great event, put on for free every year by the Thornycrofts enthusiasts & the local Council. I can’t think of a more pleasant way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon.