The first ever Showman’s Tractor, created by Scammell in 1938, will lead the first part of the Roger Austin Collection at a timed online sale via Cheffins auction house, taking place between 25th November and 30th November. The Roger Austin Collection is one of the country’s most significant collections of fairground vehicles and memorabilia.
The collection is being sold on behalf of the family of Roger Austin who was one of the leading collectors of Scammell vehicles and fairground memorabilia worldwide. Based in Raunds, Northamptonshire, Mr Austin, who ran a car salvage business, was a devoted supporter of the Fairground Heritage Trust and started his large-scale collection in the 1980s, encompassing many hundreds of pieces of fairground memorabilia at its peak, alongside the 27 vehicles and trailers on offer at this sale.
Leading the sale is the Parnaby’s ballast tractor, which prior to its current guise, was the first Showman’s Tractor ever built and precedes the famous Showtrac vehicles owned by Hoadleys, as confirmed by a letter from The Scammell Owners & Enthusiasts Club. 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.
Also within the sale is an original 1946 Scammell Showtrac. This is one of only 18 Showtracs ever built by Scammell and is liveried for its first owner Flanagan’s Amusements of Watford. The Showtrac was tenth off the production line and is an important historical vehicle, being one of only 17 surviving examples. The Showtrac has been within the Roger Austin Collection since 1989, and was fully restored at that time, it has the potential to attract a multitude of buyers.
Another important lot in the auction is a 1938 Scammell Highwayman and tandem axle fuel tanker which had a starring role in the TV advertising campaign for the launch of the Ford Mondeo mk2 in 1996 where it was cast as driving on the opposite side of the road of the featured car. This vehicle was purchased by Mr Austin in 1988. Other vehicles on offer include a 1931 part-restored chain drive Scammell Highwayman tractor unit; a very smart Tandem axle fifth wheel flatbed trailer; a mid-1930s BSA saloon car in kit form; a circa 1936 Austin 20 Charabanc for re-commissioning, a charming half size Scammell Showtrac with petrol engine and a series of Scammell Highwayman tankers and tractor units suitable for spares or repair. There is also a series of spares and a mono-rail children’s fun-fair electric train ride with two, eight-seat carriages complete in its original packing truck.
Jeremy Curzon, Director at Cheffins comments: “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. Throughout the 19th and early 20th century the travelling fairground was an important event and a big business, and these vintage examples from the period are now making some serious money as there is a growing band of fairground enthusiasts all looking to capture some of the excitement of the period. 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 Mr Austin’s family and they state:
“The lorries & 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 & items of memorabilia will enjoy and preserve them for generations to come.”
The sale will take place online at www.cheffins.co.uk from Thursday 25th November until Tuesday 30th November, with a viewing day on Friday 26th November at 10am.
For more information, please visit www.cheffins.co.uk, or call Cheffins auctioneers on 01353 777767.