Picture Gallery: Record crowds at Henham Steam Rally

Record numbers descended on north Suffolk yesterday to enjoy one of the area's largest steam rallies.

The 37th Grand Henham Steam Rally was hailed as a stunning success by organisers as thousands of people attended the popular annual weekend event.

'It has been a wonderful couple of days, with record crowds on Sunday,' Roger King, publicity officer, said.

'The weather has been fantastic, we've had huge crowds and people have been thoroughly entertained. I think we can summarise by saying it has been a very, very successful event, with the attendance up on previous years - although it is too early to say just how many people turned out,' Mr King added.

'We have received lots of favourable comments as well, including a man from Birmingham who attends rallies across the country. He stayed in a caravan on the site all weekend and said this is the best rally he goes to.'

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The event started in stunning style on Saturday, with the weather befitting the occasion - and despite some rain later in the afternoon, it did not spoil the entertainment.

And as north Suffolk bathed in a whole day of sunshine yesterday, the main arena was packed as spectators sat on straw bales to enjoy the entertainment.

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The popular annual event, held at Henham Park off the A12 between Southwold and Beccles, attracted steam engines from all over the country - including two from Holland.

With vintage tractors, kite flying, heavy horses from Suffolk and a parade by numerous vintage motorcycles and cycles there was something for everyone to admire. Loud gasps from an appreciative audience were heard as the 'special attraction' of this year's show - the nationally-acclaimed Bold Dog Lings freestyle team - performed an array of death-defying tricks.

'The team were very well accepted by the crowds, who were absolutely stunned by what they were watching at times,' Mr King said, of the freestyle trio.

The crowds flocked to enjoy a variety of performances in the two arenas, as well as enjoying a range of different stalls, static exhibitions, displays and demonstrations. Other family entertainment included live theatre, children's shows, a vintage fairground and hundreds of trade stands - with the Lowestoft dog agility display team and the Southwold and Reydon Corps of Drums among the local attractions.

And among the rally regulars was 76-year-old Ernie Eagle, from Holton St Mary in Colchester, who showcased his 1908 Marshall Agricultural Traction Engine 'Old Nick' and 'Little Ol' Nick' - a Marshall 6' scale replica version of the larger engine, which was completed in 2002. Exhibiting the engines all over the country, Mr Eagle said: 'I've always been coming to Henham with something - it used to be tractors years ago. 'I love the setting here, and we do like to really support the event as the organisers do such a lot of good work.'

A 'love of steam' attracts Stalham's John Brice to the event. With his 1921 Ruston and Hornsby Steam Roller 'Veronica,' which he has owned for almost 40 years, he has rallied throughout East Anglia, south east England, Holland and France. Having moved to Norfolk in 2003 it was a real family affair, as his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren were all present at the weekend, having visited from Essex.

The rally, which is organised by the Southwold Lions Club, the Parochial Church Councils of Wangford cum Henham, Uggeshall and Sotherton, the Wangford and District Community Council and a team of enthusiasts, attracted about 1,000 exhibitors on site, with about 40 people working hard behind the scenes.

With the rally raising money for local charities, the final amount is as yet unknown but this will be announced in forthcoming weeks.

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