For the second year running the “Safaniya” steam traction engine will be offering rides at the Rotary Spring Fair.

The engine was hand built by local Hillmorton resident Lionel Hudspith. Rotarian Terri Morgan, from Rotary Club of Rugby Saturday Breakfast Club, interviewed Lionel to find out the background and history of the steam engine.

Q. Do you have an engineering background?

A. When I left school I served a 5 year engineering apprenticeship at AEI in Rugby. On completion I joined the Merchant Navy as an engineer. My main career achievement was working in Saudi Arabia as a maintenance supervisor on offshore platforms, I was in Saudi for almost 27 years. 

Q. How long did it take you to build the steam engine?

A. In total 5 years. A lot of the small parts where produced in Saudi Arabia in my spare time. That is why the engine is called Safaniya, it is the area in Saudi that I worked

Q. Do you take it to other fairs shows etc?

A. Yes I do, although I have classic motorcycles and a 1947 Armstrong Siddeley car that I attend events with.

Q. How much will it cost for a ride at the Fair?

A. I do not charge for rides, the pleasure for me is explaining to children, and parents, how a steam engine works, and the pleasure they get riding on the engine. I do suggest a donation to Rugby Myton Hospice if they wish to contribute. 

Q. Are you involved in any other similar "steam" projects?

 A. Yes, I am a member of Rugby Model Engineering Society at Rainsbrook Valley Railway. I have a couple of steam locomotives as well as my traction engine. I am usually at Rainsbrook a couple of mornings a week. 

Q. How many passengers can you carry on a ride?

A. It can carry 4 normally, 5 if they are children