THOUSANDS of people descended on War Memorial Park this afternoon (Sunday, August 22) for the Basingstoke Festival of Transport.

The event, run jointly by the Thornycroft Society and Basingstoke Deane Rotary Club, and supported by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, returned after a 16-month hiatus, for its 30th anniversary festival.

Mid-afternoon, in the glorious sunshine, the organising team estimated that approximately 15,000 people and just short of 700 vehicles had attended the event so far.

Basingstoke Gazette: Some of the team from the Basingstoke Deane Rotary ClubSome of the team from the Basingstoke Deane Rotary Club

Rotary club member Debbie McLatch told the Gazette: “People have been trapped at home and it’s a moment for the community to come together and celebrate the 30th anniversary.”

The rotary club is pleased to be back hosting its events, after focussing on setting up and running the volunteer service at the Hampshire Court hotel vaccination centre throughout the pandemic, and pulled together more than 80 volunteers from across various organisations to help on the day.

Debbie added: “We are very proud to give this back to the community. It’s just so nice to get so many people.”

In the Car Club area, Gary Forster had travelled from Chichester with his wife Anne and daughter Daisy to exhibit his Mark 2 Jaguar 2.4l classic car as part of the Manhood Classic Cars group.

“I just really like these events, showing off the car and getting it out for a run,” he said.

“There’s a great turnout!”

Basingstoke Gazette: Gary Forster with his wife, Anne, and daughter, DaisyGary Forster with his wife, Anne, and daughter, Daisy

Anne added: “When you walk around and hear people’s stories about their cars, there’s lots of memories there.”

Meanwhile, Tony Haydon (78) from Kingsley and Martin Reed (54) from Lightwater both brought along stationary engines.

Martin, who started collecting engines in 2005, said: “This is the first event I have done in two years, with what’s going on, and the weather is good as well which makes a difference.

“There’s a lot here for a one day show, a lot of effort has gone into it.”

The men brought along engines from 1948 and 1916.

Speaking about his American engine, Tony - who himself owns close to 40 stationary engines - said: “If they weren’t used in a concrete mixer they were on a farm doing just about anything!”

This included in milk making and sheep shearing machines.

Basingstoke Gazette: Tony Haydon, 78, and Martin Reed, 54Tony Haydon, 78, and Martin Reed, 54

And nearby tractor owner David Hills had a similar story to tell, as he presented his 1948 Allis Chalmers tractor.

The 67-year-old retired lorry driver from South Ham was inspired into the hobby by his father, who was a game keeper.

“For very small farms, this could replace a horse for light duties,” he explained.

David added: “I took it here on a trailer, but it's all taxed for the roads. It’s in it’s ‘working clothes’, as we say in Hampshire, so if it gets scuffed or something it doesn’t matter so much.”

Basingstoke Gazette: David Hills his 1948 Allis Chalmers tractorDavid Hills his 1948 Allis Chalmers tractor

Four-year-old Hunter Storey from Buckskin was very excited to be allowed to sit on the tractor. Mum, Michelle, said: “He loves anything to do with cars and we finally found something he can go on!”

Among the many different types of vehicles on display, families could enjoy live music, children’s activities, food stalls, and a variety of pop-up stalls from a huge range of organisations and charities.

At one stall was Basingstoke cancer charity The Pink Place, with a game entitled ‘Human Fruit Machine’.

Basingstoke Gazette: The Pink Place stallThe Pink Place stall

Fundraising and events manager, Christine Griffiths, said: “This is only our second event this year, and it’s so good to have the opportunity to raise awareness about our services. The weather has really been in our favour!”

The charity is currently seeking volunteers to run for them in the upcoming Basingstoke 10k and half marathon races.

All in all, it was a popular and much-enjoyed fun day out for all the family.