History of the Cumbria Steam Gathering

In the beginning there was a young lady from Appleby who was taking driving lessons in Kendal, during one lesson the subject of steam rallies came up, two people became four and then…

Over 40 years ago, a small group of steam engine enthusiasts met informally in an empty building at a garage in the village of Newby near Penrith with a view to organising a Vintage Vehicle rally in the North West corner of England.

As their numbers grew, they formed an official society which soon became incorporated as a limited company, The Cumbria Steam & Vintage Vehicle Society Ltd. Today, this society is behind one of the biggest events in the county, The Cumbria Steam Gathering which annually attracts more than 20,000 visitors over two days.

Tim Holt from Hutton Roof near Kendal was one of the club’s founding members. He was chief steward at the very first Cumbria Steam Gathering and was the event’s main organiser and is still actively involved with the organising team of 15 which increases in size to almost 100 volunteers throughout the weekend.

Tim said, “We formed the society as somewhere to get together. It just grew  – two people knew two people and two knew two and so on. We decided to form a society and put an ad in the Penrith Herald. About 70 people turned up to our first proper meeting at St Andrew’s Parish Hall. One of the aims of The Cumbria Steam & Vintage Vehicle Society (C.S.V.V.S) is to promote an interest in steam and vintage vehicles so we eventually decided to hold a bit of an event.” 

The first Cumbria Steam Gathering took place in September 1973 on the former Westmorland showground at Kendal. Just over 200 people took part. Tim still has the show guide.

After a few years, the Gathering moved south to Cark Airfield, Flookburgh and forward to July for, Tim explains, “warmer rain”. Since then, the show has continued to grow and with its reputation for being well run, it has continued to be well supported by enthusiasts from around the world.  Meanwhile, the members of the event’s management committee have become involved at a national level with organisations like the National Traction Trust and the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs. The C.S.V.V.S has also become involved in farm tractor driving training and the National Traction Engine Trust Steam Apprentice club, which gives youngsters the chance to learn about steam “right from the dirty end”.

The Cumbria Steam & Vintage Vehicle Society has 300 members. The Society meets monthly at the Royal British Legion, Penrith. For further information, call 07825 369601 or email through the contact us page.