Sawing with steam power at the Wood Fair

Steam engine Ickworth

One of the most unforgettable sights at Ickworth Wood Fair is traction engine ‘Oliver’ calmly powering a saw mill as it slices through length after length of tree trunk.

Built to order by Lincoln engineers Ruston and Hornby in 1920, the first owners used it to power a sawmill in rural Cambridgeshire.  But, already becoming obsolete, Oliver was sold a year to another local company to drive the machinery to separate harvested grain from the stalks or chaff. 

A disastrous fire in 1924 brought another new local owner, this time for keeps. C R Pumfrey and Sons, a Duxford company, repaired and then used the engine for over thirty years.  In 1955 they sold it for scrap, but almost immediately bought it back and lovingly restored it.  And so began a lifetime of showing at steam rallies, a tradition carried on since 1978 by the Wheeler family, based at Bardwell Mill.  Oliver had another brush with disaster in 1987 when the Mill sails collapsed in the Great Hurricane. 

Following careful restoration Oliver has carried on as majestically as ever.  Today he is a much-loved guest at Ickworth Wood Fair and other events across East Anglia.  

This year Oliver has a newly restored sawmill and Ickworth's Wood & Craft Fair will be it's second show! Join Oliver and thousands of others across the weekend at Ickworth...a fun filled day for the whole family!