Padstow Vintage Rally & Country Fair

It all started in 1986 when the Cornish Tractor Club moved its venue from the St Stephens area to hold their annual tractor rally at Trerethern Farm near Padstow. They only ever held one event there and decided to move back to Penance Farm for their next event in 1987. My uncle’s George James and Paul Stephens along with David Hicks broke away to start what is know today as the Padstow Vintage Rally which has always been held in the first weekend of July.

This first ever rally held was on the same site at Trerethern Farm and was supported by many other people like George’s brothers Jack & Hedley James nephew Tyrone and David’s son Alan Hicks. The main aim was to raise money for Cornish based children’s charities and have some fun doing so, which we still continue to do today. During their second year in 1987 they made the grand total of £6.00 on the gate due to being washed out but this did not deture them from organising other events in the following years. They were also assisted by David’s wife Valerie who did most of the raffles along with Richard and Cathy Hoare. The main commentators over the years for the exhibits in the main ring have been Brian Ferris who is an expert in his own right about motorcycles and Clifford Lobb. They all provided their own entertainment in the ring by having fashion parades with the men dressed up in drag and Richard Hoare giving a hilarious commentary on them as they paced the cat walk.

Many features over the years were Tug O war and JCB digger competitions and even wheel barrow races. Today we have hired toilets, which are very suitable for the event but back then they were not the best in the world as they were home made. The cleaning then became self help by having to clean them out yourself. This would cause shock to some people as Uncle George would be cleaning out the toilets at two in the morning ready for the next day and as you entered he would stick his head around the toilet door and frighten the life out of you.

In 1990 they had permission from Brian Sandry to hold the rally at Trevisker Farm and with the fun of the rally still continuing. Saturday evening seen road runs with all sorts of vehicles like Tractors, Vintage cars, Motorcycles, Steam Engines and old lorries heading towards the beach at Trevone for an ice cream. The trips would be organised by David Hicks leading off into Padstow before heading for the beach with Uncle George directing traffic from the site. One year as they stopped, for that well deserved ice cream the tide was approaching and somebody got stuck in the sand with a tractor, but with a towrope they got her out with no damage and the driver was OK. The Beer tent on Saturday nights was the high light of the weekend with, on one occasion we had a very special performance by the YMCA, Alan Hicks the Sailor, Aubrey Cowling the Policeman, Richard Hoare the Indian, Johnny Cowling the Biker and a lad from Camborne as the Builder. This brought the house down or I should say the tent with a very good performance. The raffle was always conducted during the evening and in addition Uncle George would auction off a Teddy Bear but it would not reach its target so he would twist people’s arms to gain the money for charities. In the end people would just pay up to get rid of him.

In about 1993 they had to move sites to Sidney Rundles Farm at Credis This happened because the farmer had cut the hay in the field but was unable to bail it due to it being so wet. The rally grew better each year and all the family and friends new it as Georges Rally but unfortunately in October 1998 my Uncle George died after finding out a month before that he had cancer. The last rally must have been painful for him as he must of known there was something wrong but continued on. This followed quickly with David Hicks passing away in December of the same year and the old committee had decided not to continue on. In the early part of 1999 all the money in the accounts were given to local charities and they announced in the newspaper that it was to end.

However once it became public knowledge, there were very many anxious telephone calls to Susan James, George’s late wife and Peter James his son from many Traders and Exhibitors that they didn’t want it to end. Peter contacted me and we all decided to continue on. We started by placing an advert in the paper that we were to hold a meeting at the Halfway House Inn. We formed a committee, Peter became Chairman, Maggie his wife to be Treasurer & Craft Stalls, Susan became our Secretary, Alan Hicks looked after the Tractors and that left me as Vice Chairman & looking after Steam Engines. This became an up hill struggle with no money but with the support from many people who didn’t what to see it end, we muddled through. Peter started with the beer tent and bar the most important items and general other things like lighting towers, while I went after the Ropes, Poles, small Tents, Chairs and Tables etc. The money started coming in with sponsorship for our programme, which Susan made up at home, on the computer.

This left the reproduction to Peter and myself by use of photocopiers and using staplers. The money we then used for insurance for the first ever weekend event. The publicity we did through Radio Cornwall with Paul Wills, and home made Posters and flyers in the car parks. This first year was all done by grace and favour through friends and work colleagues. The first charity we adopted and stayed with was Penhaligon’s friends, who support young children in their bereavement after the loss of a parent. This was started after the death of that great Cornish MP David Penhaligon. His wife Dame Annette was the founder of this because their children had no support. The first year in 1999 we donated £ 450 and in the year 2000 we managed £1000, but sadly due to Foot & Mouth our event in 2001 had to be cancelled. The Committee had to change in that year due to Peter and Maggie James work commitments, Susan had retired and I took over as Chairman, Mrs Rene Beamond as Secretary and Mrs Tina Beamond as our Treasurer.