If you’ve ever spent time at a vintage tractor show, you’ll know that these exhibitors are among the most passionate you’ll ever meet. So imagine bringing together the owners of nearly 1,100 vintage and classic tractors, farm equipment, commercial vehicles and stationary engines – the genial vibe and raw enthusiasm is second to none.
Of course, collectively, these vehicles form a tremendously important part of our history – ranging from some of the very first engines ever built before the last century, through to the important roles they played throughout both world wars, right up to more recent nostalgic memory. Welcome to the Newark Vintage Tractor and Heritage Show, which took place on 5-6 November.
As a wartime memento, Ian Cargill’s 1942 International Harvester M was part of the lend-lease scheme, which was a government incentive to bring machinery across from the US to help UK farmers during the second world war. Ian has a long association with the IH firm, having started out as an apprentice in Doncaster in 1966. “Dad worked there for 35 years as a machinist, making transmission cases and clutch housings for the B450 and 614,” says Ian. “I worked in both the millwright shop and foundry maintenance, repairing everything from pumps and lifting tackle to compressors and furnaces.”
Although the International was a US tractor, they ended up being made from scratch in the UK, and Ian has always loved them. “They’ve all got their individualities,” he explains. His first purchase was a model A, in 2010, which is the smallest model – so he added the M – the largest model – in 2016. “The M was in Berwick-Upon-Tweed from new in 1942 for 53 years, before it was bought by a dealer and used for promotions in Carnforth.”
The 4.1-litre engine gives 38-40hp, and starts on petrol before running on paraffin or kerosene. “I’m in the process of getting a plough or cultivator to take part in working days with it,” says Ian. Of course, exhibitions don’t always go according to plan; at one event near Corby, the governor spring on the A broke, sending the engine backwards and oil all over the bonnet. “I was towed around the ring and the commentator offered me 50p for it!”
However, having spent 18 years working as part of the maintenance team at the factory, that didn’t phase Ian, who renovated both tractors himself. That’s something else which commonly binds vintage tractor exhibitors – many are expert mechanics, often with lifelong links to the manufacturers themselves.
James Chantry’s grandfathers on his mother’s side both worked for Field Marshall in Gainsborough, as the factory was just two miles away from where they lived. Along with his father, Mark, he has always had a love for the brand, and they now own six single-cylinder Marshalls plus 26 other tractors, ranging from the 1930s to the 1990s. “It’s an obsession – it would probably be cheaper to be addicted to cocaine,” he laughs. “But my grandads would have worked on the 1945 Model M which we have.”
James bought his first Field Marshall in 2013, a series two which was originally sold to the Isle of Man. “The engine’s big end went at my first show so I had to rebuild it.” Fortunately, the family have the right facilities, as they also run Chantry Agricultural Engineers, both fixing machinery and selling new Zetor tractors.
James’s second purchase was a 1948 series two, which was a bit of a wreck and required a total rebuild. “The Marshall club have a meet at the factory on Father’s Day, I took it the bits there and said I’d drive it back next year, so I had to get it done – which I did. I thought it was cheap – I paid £3,000 for it and have spent £8,000 on it, and it’s still not finished, but at least I know it’s being done right.” Initially sold to Argentina, James even found some Argentinian coins in the block while rebuilding it.
But it’s not just rebuilding and exhibiting the tractors which James loves – he enjoys putting them to use at home, too. “We grow a field of oats which we drilled, rolled, cut with a 1940s binder, and threshed – all with Gainsborough-made machinery. We have a 1942 threshing drum, which won best Marshall at the Newark Vintage Tractor and Heritage Show in 2019, and every year we have a party, going out and threshing the oats. I did it for my 30th birthday.”
Peter Lawrence is another enthusiast who likes to put his tractors to work. Chairman of the Friends of Ferguson Heritage Club, he has a 1964 Massey Ferguson 35X and a 1965 135 Multi-Power. “I’ve been in agricultural engineering all my life – I worked for a Ford dealer for 40 years and then, after being made redundant, with Agco technical parts. When I retired, I had an urge to do ploughing matches, so restored the 35X followed by the 135 Multipower,” he says.
This year alone, he has had a win and a second place in local ploughing matches in the Lutterworth area, plus a prize for best maintained tractor and plough, and overall best Massey Ferguson in show. “As a club, we’re trying to preserve the heritage of Harry Ferguson,” explains Peter. “He revolutionised agriculture with the TE20 and the three-point linkage; the same principle is still used in modern tractors today.”
It’s not just tractors and farm equipment at the event, though: Commercial vehicles have a similarly important place in our social history. Simon Robertson, part of the Historic and Commercial Vehicle Society, owns three classic buses, the first of which is a real trip down memory lane for children of the 1970s. “I went to school in Derby and there were five Bristol VR buses which worked the school run,” he says.
Having worked in the bus and coach industry for almost his whole life, from driving them to building bodies and mechanics, Simon jumped at the chance to buy one of those original five buses when it came up for sale – a 1972 Bristol VR. More recently he bought a 1968 Daimler Fleetline – the model which had serviced the local primary school – and a 1995 Volvo B10B. “It was owned by a local company which I’d worked for – it’s nice to have a local one.”
One of the biggest problems with a hobby like this is finding the storage – the Daimler is 14”6’ high! But it does come with its treats – Simon ferried guests at his cousin’s wedding from the church to reception in the Bristol, and his daughter is now keen to get involved. “I want to repaint it in the original livery, but she always remembers it as it is, so doesn’t want me to change it. It’s nice that she’s interested.”
About the show
The Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show is organised by the Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society and supported by the Nottinghamshire branch of the National Vintage Tractor and Engine Club (NVTEC). The Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society is a charity whose main objective it to promote and champion agriculture throughout Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands region.
Contact for further information
Events and Development Manager
Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society
Organiser of Newark Vintage Tractor and Heritage Show
T: 01636 705 796 E: [email protected]