COLIN and Ian Hatch set a lot of store by proud traditions.

It’s a philosophy which drives the brothers’ business and inspired them to draw a replica Howitzer across the town by traction engine to Steam.

The high-profile event raised £870 for SSAFA.

“We did it mainly to get people to think,” said Colin.

“At the end of the week is Remembrance. Have a think about where we came from. Think about history. Think about how lucky we are to be able to do whatever we want these days, relatively speaking. Somebody sacrificed their whole life for what we can do today.

“If by trailing that gun around we’ve made people think about not going to do their shopping on Sunday but just stop and have a bit of reverence for the past then I’ve done my job.

“This year above all years it’s especially relevant.”

Ian said: “The good thing is that I hope people will watch some of the programmes that are coming up over the next week or so on the television about the First World War. You have to understand where it all came from and what they stood for.

“People get this misguided idea about things glorifying war. It isn’t glorifying war in any way because it was a dreadful situation for anyone concerned.

“They did it because they did it, as they say, for king and country. They did it because they didn’t want to be overthrown. They wanted to be free.”

Ian and Colin come from an engineering family, having trained at what is now the BMW plant. Their father, a grandfather and an uncle worked at the Railway Works, and their father also served in the Royal Engineers.

Colin said: “We’ve always had, right from a very young age, a shed in the garden. There have always been tools in the shed. Our father tinkered about with cars and other things.

“He’d come from that era – and we do, too, really – where you try and mend something, do what you can to mend it, before you throw it away and make a new one.

“We had a home workshop. We used to make little carts, take engines out of motorbikes and fix them to four-wheeled things, just tinkering about all the time, which doesn’t happen these days.”

The two have been passionate about steam power since childhood, and Colin has owned a traction engine for many years.

Their company, based near Wanborough, is a major centre for the restoration and repair of steam engines, specialising in road-going vehicles.

The machines the brothers are asked to repair spent their working lives in locations as diverse as Australia and parts of Africa.

Although the last of Britian’s traction engines rolled from the production line in the 1930s, and steam locomotives were phased out by British Rail in the 1960s, Colin and Ian point out that steam power of one form or another is used to this day in a variety of applications including power generation.

They insist that the engineering skills used in restoring and repairing the old machines are relevant to this day - and will become more so as the country considers its economic future.

Ian said: “We need to manufacture more things in this country, not just import it all, put a label on and make a quick buck. We need to invest in our engineering and in our manufacturing, too.”

Colin added: “We’re very good in this country at designing, creating, improvising. We come up with some really good ideas, but all too soon people sell off the idea for a quick return.

“But what I think, especially post-Brexit, is that this country needs to keep its ideas. It needs to expand its manufacturing base and its technology and it needs to sell to the world.

“We’ve got to enthuse our youngsters to want to go into engineering, and we’re only going to do that by paying comparable to engineers as to people in other things.

“For example, in Germany an engineer is on the same professional level as an accountant or a doctor. In this country that’s not the case. Engineering’s image has to change.

“We need to get the youngsters in with the ideas, keep them there and sell to the world.”