David Collyer on the Queen’s Jubilee and a Steam Rally
Life through a rose tinted filter
By David Collyer
Last weekend a lot of Britain and the more traditional parts of what remains of the Commonwealth got swept along in the festivities celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee. I’m not a flag waver or a monarchist by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t mind admitting that for someone who is essentially a modernist, I’m quite partial to a bit of nostalgia, just so long as it isn’t tied up with nationalism or deference.
Once a year in the small Welsh town I call home, a steam rally rolls into town. Owing to the pandemic it’s been absent for the last two, but this year it was back, and it coincided with jubilee weekend. This was a nostalgia I could get on board with. The event always attracts great characters and a mix of technological wonders and absurdities, not just from the age of coal powered transport, but through classic cars and motorbikes, to the disastrous plastic bikes of the 1980s, and the odd smattering of uninspiring beige vehicles that British Leyland churned out in the death rattles of their final years. All life is here. Mods chat with rockers as they admire each other’s Vespas and Triumphs, elderly couples pop round for afternoon tea with their younger neighbours, bonding over their vintage caravans, flamboyantly whiskered older men polish Victorian traction engines and nurture youngsters not yet in double digits who are already driving their own miniature versions.
I loaded my Leica M3 with the new Agent Shadow from Kosmofoto, and a Canon F1N with HP5+ at ISO 400 and 640 respectively and over the course of a couple of days wandered around the site chatting to visitors and exhibitors, sharing jokes, reminiscing about my first car, a Triumph Herald convertible, and various Vespas I used to ride. I was made a bacon sandwich by a couple of 1950s revivalists with a superb vintage Buick, and I managed to take a few photos for this column and the local paper too. And not once did I have to bow or tug my forelock!
Images © David Collyer 2022.
You might also be interested in this article where David Collyer heads back to the darkroom. https://silvergrainclassics.com/en/2021/03/david-collyer-sting-was-wrong-friday-focus/