World's first Showman's tractor to go on sale in Northamptonshire as part of 'significant' Scammell auction

The auction will raise money for the late collector's family

Friday, 19th November 2021, 5:22 pm
Updated Friday, 19th November 2021, 5:24 pm
The manufacturer sold to farmers and even the British Army.
The manufacturer sold to farmers and even the British Army.

The first part of one of the UK's most 'significant' collections of fairground vehicles and memorabilia is set to go on sale in Northamptonshire, as part of a timed online auction.

The collection, put together by the late Roger Austin since the 1980s, has become home to a wide array of vehicles made by famous British manufacturer Scammell.

Austin is said to have been one of the leading collectors of Scammell vehicles and fairground memorabilia worldwide, with his collection said to have featured many hundreds of pieces at its peak, alongside the 27 vehicles and trailers on offer at the sale.

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Most of the vehicles on offer are at least 80 years old.

Leading the pack is the Parnaby’s ballast tractor that was the first Showman’s tractor ever built when it debuted in 1938. The lorry was a ground-breaking vehicle at the time, representing the important development from steam engines previously used for the haulage and motive power for fairground rides.

Other vehicles will include a 1938 Scammell Highwayman, a mid-1930s BSA saloon car in kit form, a 1931 part-restored chain drive Scammell Highwayman tractor unit and more.

A children’s fun-fair electric train ride will also appear, with two eight-seat carriages complete in its original packing truck.

Items will be seen as part of a timed online event held via Cheffins auction house. It will be taking place in Raunds, Northamptonshire, but held and participated in remotely.

The collection is said to have played a 'big part' of the collector's family's lives.

Jeremy Curzon, director at Cheffins said: “Roger Austin was a much-respected character on the fairground heritage scene and his collection was widely-regarded as one of the most important in the country.

"During the 1930s, fairgrounds were a serious money-maker with many operating nationwide, and the fact that Scammell took the steps to build a vehicle simply for showmen was a testament to this.

"The Scammell Showtrac is an important historical development in the history of the British funfair and marks the turning point in the 1930s where fairgrounds moved from being driven almost solely by steam to using diesel vehicles, and as there were only 18 Showtracs ever built, these on offer at the sale are hugely rare vehicles.

"The Roger Austin Collection goes some way to paint a picture of the history of the British funfair and we will be offering the second part of the collection in 2022 which will include a series of historic rides, figures, rounding boards, signs and other memorabilia.”

The collection is being sold on behalf of Mister Austin's family.

They said: “The lorries and fairground have been a big part of our family life.

"We have so many memories associated with them, none more so than the sheer pleasure that our father had when people came to visit and look around, he would be happily immersed in the sheds for hours with them.

"Now it’s time for them to go and we hope that the new custodians of these wonderful vehicles and items of memorabilia will enjoy and preserve them for generations to come.”

The sale will take place online on Cheffins' website from Thursday November 25 until Tuesday November 30, with a viewing day on Friday November 26 at 10am.