New venue for Henham Steam Rally

Powerful engines line up at the Henham Steam Rally 2014.

Powerful engines line up at the Henham Steam Rally 2014. - Credit: Nick Butcher

One of the most popular events on Suffolk's social calendar will be moving to a new venue this year.

The Grand Henham Steam Rally, which last year celebrated its 40th anniversary, will be staged at Trinity Park in Ipswich, rather than its usual venue at Henham Park, near Souwthwold.

The decision was taken by organisers after lengthy negotiations with the owners of Henham Park failed to produce a contract acceptable to both parties.

Mike Powell-Evans, chairman of the organising committee, said: 'Henham Park is the spiritual home of the rally and has been its venue for most of its 40 year history, so this decision was not taken lightly.

'The Henham Steam Rally has become an important event, not least for the thousands who take part but also for the many charities that use it to raise thousands of pounds each year.

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'It's therefore very important that it continues and this change of venue will allow it to do so.'

This year's event is due to take place on September 19 and 20.

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Hektor Rous, estate manager at Henham Park, said 'The central issue for us is that the government has decided to remove the agricultural exemption from business rates on farmland and to backdate these charges to 2010.

'As I strongly feel this retrospective charge is unfair I have not asked the steam rally to pay their proportion of the charge, but going forward had hoped they would contribute to covering at least part of this expense.

'As it stands we have never charged them a commercial rent due to their intention of raising money for charity. However, in recent years, I have tried repeatedly to encourage the directors to contribute more of their funds to the local community.

'Unfortunately they have not felt able to do this.

'Personally I will be very sad that the volunteers who are the lifeblood and soul of the event and the community stalls such as the Sotherton Pancakes will not be returning to Henham and they will be sadly missed.'

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