Women at the wheel for the annual Strumpshaw Steam Rally
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017
A popular family event is returning to Strumpshaw on May Bank Holiday weekend, with this year seeing more women getting involved in the male-dominated world of steam engine conservation.
Hundreds of exhibitors are applying elbow grease to vintage engines as they prepare for the annual Strumpshaw Steam Rally which begins on Saturday, May 25 until Monday, May 27.
Among them are a growing band of women who are rolling up their sleeves to join the event, and for many of the female exhibitors it's a family affair.
Agricultural solicitor Emily Jennings will be exhibiting an engine, called Success, which her great, great grandparents bought for their farming and steam contracting business in 1914.
"It's nice to stand on the footplate of Success and know that generations of my family have been there before me," she said. "She is like a member of the family to us."
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At Strumpshaw, she will be driving Dragon, a showman's engine belonging to friends, as Success is currently undergoing boiler work.
Ms Jennings learned to drive and maintain these giant engines in her teens - as did Sarah Smith, whose father restored a steam-driven Foden wagon while she was growing up.
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"That summer I drove and drove the wagon until I got the hang of it, and it's safe to say I never looked back," said Ms Smith, who will be at the wheel of a miniature Foden Steam Wagon called Perry's Pride at the weekend.
Both women married steam enthusiasts and were transported on their wedding days by steam engines.
Attractions at the rally include a display of vintage and steam cars, tractors and agricultural machinery, as well as horse displays and train rides.
The rally is open between 9am-5pm on Saturday and 10.30am-3.30pm on Sunday and Monday.