Boconnoc Steam Fair
Every July, Boconnoc comes alive with buzzing crowds, dozens of vehicles, and puffs of smoke. The occasion is the Boconnoc Steam Fair: one of the largest events of its kind in the Southwest, and a perfect extravaganza of steam engines, vintage vehicles, classic cars, and carnival attractions designed to thrill visitors of all ages. Now approaching its 20th anniversary, the event is well worth planning a trip to Cornwall to discover.
Though it’s now a highlight event in Cornwall, the Boconnoc Steam Fair had a rather surprising—even accidental—beginning.
Its origins date back to the late 1990s, when the Fortescue family had just begun the meticulous restoration process that would, over the course of 12 years, transform Boconnoc into the wonderful country house and wedding venue it is today.
Led by Anthony Fortescue, one of the first acts of refurbishment was turning Boconnoc’s lake from a neglected waterway into the jewel of the estate. To dredge the lake, two large engines—with a chain and bucket suspended between them—were invited to Boconnoc.
The image of the engines on Boconnoc’s sprawling lawn planted the seed for this banner event, as did Anthony Fortescue’s passion for refurbishing vintage tractors. Since its founding, the Boconnoc Steam Fair has attracted ever-growing crowds to admire the collection of engines and vehicles (and even bring along their own). Now, over 12,000 visitors flock to Lostwithiel each year for a late July weekend to remember.
These days, the Boconnoc Steam Fair has never been bigger or more thrilling, thanks in part to the passionate hobbyists whose jaw-dropping vehicles serve up plenty of spectacle. Items on display have included everything from rare vintage car models, historic Field Marshall tractors, and cherry pickers to motorbikes and, naturally, an array of more than 50 beautiful steam engines.
In recent years, a Nigerian steam engine put on quite a show, while a passionate collector showcased his double-decker bus…filled with 20,000 items from his 80,000-strong glass bottle collection! Stands displaying old pistols, vintage farm tools, and a tent on the lawn dedicated to fabulous miniatures—including model aircrafts, cannons, and battleships—are another draw.
No matter what, arrive expecting an atmosphere of happy mayhem, and enough one-of-a-kind vehicles to thrill any enthusiast.
When evening descends, the entertainment begins. From its position on Boconnoc’s parkland, the beer tent hosts a range of fun and festive live-music acts, while those after an adrenaline boost are welcome to take a spin around the dodgems and other carnival attractions. It’s a fitting conclusion to a thrilling day out.