Steam fair success at Chatham

Steam engine at Chatham docks Photo: ITV Meridian

Thousands of people have packed the Historic Dockyard in Chatham for one of the South East's biggest steam festivals.

This year the Medway Festival of Steam and Transport has a special railway theme and to mark the occasion the dockyard engine Atlas is in steam again, marking the end of a major restoration project.Among the other highlights are an American Steam car, which is unusual because it's a right hand drive. The United States didn't introduce left hand drive until 1916 when Henry Ford thought it would be a good idea to change car design.

The 1909 Stanley is owned by Gareth Jones from Dorking in Surrey who displays it at events around the country. "I've been in love with steam every since I was a small boy",said Mr Jones."There's something living and breathing about steam power than you don't get in modern vehicles. Every day is different when you drive a steam car - they are a bit like human beings; some days are good and some are bad."

The festival is also celebrating the growth of a new movement called 'SteamPunk'. These are people who love the designs and fashions that go hand in hand with the era of steam. Karen Grover, a television fashion designer, said "This has its roots in Victorian science fiction - HG Wells, Jules Verne are the Grandfathers of SteamPunk - but it's a fashion movement, a social movement and it has its own music scene. There's something for everybody and a venue like this where there are steam trains is just superb."

This is the tenth Medway Steam festival and each year the crowds have got bigger. "We've worked hard to turn this into one of the biggest events of its kind in the South,"said Gail James from Chatham Historic Dockyard. "This is one of the biggest weekends of the year for the dockyard and we're delighted that some many people have come to celebrate everything steam."