Friday, 28 June 2013

Woodvale Transport Festival 2013

SOMEHOW it was appropriate a replica of that great wartime symbol of British optimism – the Spitfire – stood proudly at the heart of last weekend’s Woodvale Transport Festival.

I could sense a bit of Battle of Britain spirit at Victoria Park last Saturday morning, when the elements did their best to dampen everyone’s spirits for this year’s events. I’ve seen many a show – even the bigger, most lavishly funded ones – turn into a bit of a damp squib on account of typically British summer weather, but a bit of stiff upper lip meant the show carried on. Right on cue, it brightened up as Saturday morning got into its swing.

To say I’d been looking forward to this year’s Woodvale Transport Festival is an understatement. Even though I’ve been to hundreds of different car shows for as long as I can remember Woodvale is my ‘home’ show and the one I’ve grown up with. From my days as spotty boy scout picking up litter to more recent years when I’ve displayed my own classic on the club stands, it’s always been the one show I’ve put in my diary to get along to. That’s why I convinced Classic Car Weekly to let me come home, get the camera out and immerse myself in this year’s event.

It’s because of my fondness for the rally that I left feeling both slightly sad, but more importantly, optimistic. I thought this year’s show suffered slightly, mainly because of the weather, but perhaps also because the name still links it to the airfield extravaganzas of previous years. Smaller shows can and do work – you only need to look at the classic car gatherings in Lydiate and up at Bank Hall each summer to see that – but the reactions I got from speaking to visitors last weekend was that a bit of a mixed bag.

The Woodvale Transport Festival had some great ingredients – a great venue (as the Southport Flower Show proves), keen exhibitors, a host of classic car owners, model plane owners and other enthusiasts who can’t wait to bring their toys along, organisers committed to its success, and a whole town keen to support it -- but I can’t help feeling this year’s event was an opportunity missed.

I don’t think it’s unfair to say the show’s had its ups and downs over the past few years – through, it must be said, no fault of the organisers or those who support it – but I think the show’s future as a top draw event for Southport, not an airfield just outside Formby, is a bright one.

Every cloud – even the literal one that lingered over the show for much of last weekend – has a silver lining.

Originally published in The Southport Champion, June 26, 2013

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