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Hollycombe Steam Collection facts for kids

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Hollycombe Steam Collection viewed from the big wheel
Part of the Fairground viewed from the top of the big wheel

The Hollycombe Steam Collection is a collection of steam-powered vehicles, rides and attractions based near Liphook in Hampshire. The collection includes fairground rides, a display farm and two railways.


The collection dates back to the late 1940s when Commander John Baldock decided to preserve some of the steam traction engines that were rapidly disappearing from British life. By the early 1960s he had acquired a significant collection of road vehicles and started to collect fairground rides. In the late '60s he extended his interests again into preserving railway equipment.

The collection was eventually opened to the public and became a major Hampshire tourist attraction. At length the collection grew so large it became impossible for one person to maintain, and by 1984 Baldock decided he would have to close the operation.

A Society was formed by volunteers to operate the collection. This was successful and the collection continued to expand. At the beginning of 1999 a charitable trust took over the majority of the collection, funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. The collection is now operated by a charitable trust.


Edwardian Fairground

Hollycombe Steam Collection Razzle Dazzle
The Razzle Dazzle

The Edwardian Fairground is a complete steam fair comprising rides originating from the 1870s and later. The rides include a Tidman 3 abreast Golden Gallopers roundabout, a single Steam Yacht a Razzle Dazzle being a grand aerial novelty ride with a rotating and tilting movement. S Fields Steam Circus was built between 1868 and 1872 and is the oldest surviving mechanically propelled fairground device. The fairground also has a set of Steam Swings, a Set of Walker Chair o planes, a big wheel and a Bioscope Show which is an early travelling cinema. The rides are constructed mainly from wood and, where appropriate, are powered by steam engines. There are rides for all ages and the atmosphere is completed with a number of fairground organs and a range of sidestalls.

Current ride and attraction list:

  • Steam Yacht (One of two Steam Yachts in the UK, Built in 1911)
  • Razzle Dazzle (The first ever ride with 2 movements, which are tilting and rotating, built in 1906 by Howcroft Carriage & Wagon Works )
  • Gallopers (3-abreast Steam Gallopers, Built 1912 by Tidman of Norwich)
  • Mr Field's Steam Circus (Built in the late 1870s by Savage of King's Lynn, it the world's oldest surviving mechanically driven fairground ride)
  • Steam Swings (The ride consists of six boats driven by an overhead line shaft from a 1901 Brown & May portable engine)
  • Big Wheel (50 ft high and built by Hayes Fabrications)
  • Steam Chair O Planes (Once a set of gallopers, destroyed in the war. Now a set of chairs o planes built in 1910 by Walker's)
  • BioScope (The Bioscope is typical of the travelling shows which brought the very first films to the public)
  • Haunted House (Built by Orton & Spooner around 1915, the Haunted House) (back in service for 2017)
  • Austin Car ride (Built by Supercar in 1948)
  • Juvenile Roundabout (Built by Orton & Spooner in 1930 and spent its working life at Chessington Zoo in Surrey until purchased by Hollycombe in 1985)
  • Children's Swing Boats (Built in 1990)
  • Juvenile Chair O Planes


The farm includes a wide range of vintage steam-powered farm equipment including: ploughing engines, a threshing machine, a baler, and a stationary steam engine driving small machinery through a line shaft.

The sawmill is used to cut much of the wood used on site and is powered by a large semi-portable Robey Steam Engine. Close by is the engine from the paddle steamer Caledonia.


There are two railways: narrow gauge and miniature railway. A third standard gauge line formerly operated but is now abandoned.

Narrow gauge railway

Hunslet 638 Jerry M Dinorwic Slate Quarries 1951
Jerry M running at Dinorwig before preservation at Hollycombe
Narrow gauge station
Narrow gauge station at Hollycombe

The narrow gauge railway at Hollycombe started in 1967 using equipment purchased from the Dinorwic slate quarry in north Wales. The quarry had recently abandoned its extensive internal rail system and Commander Baldock acquired the steam locomotive Jerry M along with a quantity of track and several wagons. Construction started in 1968 and reached the sandstone quarry by 1971. The 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge line was later extended to include a loop, which brought the track length to its present 1½ miles. The second steam locomotive Caledonia was purchased in 1968.

Four of the five passenger coaches were bought from the Ramsgate Cliff Railway when it closed; the fifth coach was built at Hollycombe to the same design.


Name Builder    Type    Date Works number Notes
Jerry M Hunslet 0-4-0ST 1895 638 Ex-Dinorwic Quarry. Originally named Vaenol, later renamed Jerry M after a successful racehorse belonging to the quarry owners. In service.
Caledonia Barclay 0-4-0WT 1931 1995 Ex-Burnhope Reservoir railway, later at Dinorwic Quarry where it was named No. 70. Undergoing overhaul, boiler at the Severn Valley Railway.
Jack Ruston Hornsby 4wDM 1939 203016 Currently out of service
Lizzie Ruhrthaler 4wDH In service.
Tinkerbelle Plymouth 4wDM In Service

Miniature railway

The miniature railway at Hollycombe is 7 14 in (184 mm) gauge.


The miniature railway starts at the station by the saw mill and climbs past crossing gates and through a cutting. It reaches the top and bends to the left. The fairground is on the left and the woodland gardens on the right. It then heads into another cutting before a 360 degree loop onto an embankment. It runs parallel with a 5-inch gauge line into the 2 platform station.

  • Bob 0-4-2 Tinkerbell class
  • Pauline 0-4-0 Romulus class

Standard gauge railway

Commander b
Hawthorn-Leslie 0-4-0ST Commander B

The standard gauge (4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)) railway ran for ⅓ mile between the sawmill and the farm, passing the fairground along the way. The railway had one steam locomotive:

  • Commander B, 1899-built Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0ST, named after the collection's founder, Cdr. Baldock. The engine was originally purchased by the Admiralty for use in Chatham Dockyard, and was brought to Hollycombe for restoration in 1985, several years after withdrawal from the docks. Currently stored in the open on tracks of the abandoned standard gauge line, out of use and in deteriorating condition, due to unaffordable heavy overhaul and boiler repairs.

Steam engines

The collection has over 30 different steam engines of various types. Some of the engines are not on display as engines which in some cases are 100 years old require regular maintenance work to keep them in service.

Traction engines

Hollycombe has a large collection of traction engines and some are used on open days either to plough a field, work a threshing machine, give rides or work a fairground ride.

Showman's engines

Emperor showman's engine driving a dynamo

The showman's engines are used to power the fairground rides.

  • Burrell No. 1876 "Emperor" built in 1895. The oldest showman's engine in the world. Operational, powers the lights in the fairground and sometimes runs round the site.
  • Garrett No. 33348 "Leiston Town" built in 1918. Operational and used to power the juvenile rides.

Steam tractors

The light steam tractors (a small design of traction engine) are used for giving rides.

  • Burrell gold medal tractor No. 2 "Sunset" built in 1919. Out of traffic awaiting a major overhaul.
  • Mann Steam Tractor No. 1260 built in 1917. Out of traffic awaiting a major overhaul.

Agricultural engines

Fowler 16NHP BB plough engine 14383 'Prince' (1917) Hollycombe, Liphook 3.8.2004 P8030066 (10353636736)
Fowler Ploughing Engine Prince at work

These engines are used for ploughing or driving a threshing machine.

  • Beam engine circa 1840 a working rotational beam engine of unknown make restored over a 6year period and supplemented by a waterwheel powered shaft.
  • John Allen of Oxford. ploughing engine No. 67 built in 1913. Out of service.
  • John Fowler & Co. ploughing engine No. 14383 "Prince" of 1917. Out of service.

Portable engines

Clayton & Shuttleworth 8NHP PE 50010 ‘Eileen’ (1926) & Ruston & Proctor 12hp PE ‘Big John’ Hollycombe, Liphook 3.8.2004 P8030018 (10353635084)
Portable engines Eileen and Big John

This type of engine was used for driving agricultural machinery.

  • Brown & May – engine no. 6691 of 1901 (Drives shaft on the steam swings). Operational.
  • Clayton & Shuttleworth – engines no. 44140 of 1911 "Olive" (drives big wheel) and no. 50010 "Eileen" of 1926. "Olive" operational, "Eileen" operational.
  • Robey & Co. – semi-portable engine no. 33810 of 1915 (drives saw mill). Undergoing major overhaul.
  • Ruston, Proctor and Company - engine no. 30656 "Big John" of 1906. Operational.

Road rollers

  • Aveling and Porter No. 8974 Roslyn built in 1919. Operational.
  • Aveling and Porter No. 10050 "David" built in 1921. Out of service.
  • Babcock & Wilcox No. 4014 Monarch built in 1926. Operational.
  • Wallis & Steevens Simplicity roller No.8023 "Christopher" built in 1932. Operational.

Centre and organ engines

  • The museum has a number of these rare compact portable engines that powered fairground rides and organs.
  • M. Savage & Co – 6 examples
  • Tidman – 4 examples
  • Walkers – one example
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