In the Chair No: 71 - March 2016
 
Back in February 2014, we went for a quick gallop through the Club's first decade; from the grand promise of things to come at its inaugural AGM held in 2004 at Bentwarters, courtesy of Bill Kemble, to its becoming independent in 2011 by which time we had neither money nor income.  I also gave you 'my take' on how this powerless state of affairs had arisen, as frankly an explanation was long overdue. You should appreciate that I had only been co-opted onto the committee in 2011 following the seminal AGM at Ben Craig's when matters had come to a head and therefor had not been present during earlier committee meetings.
 
I also outlined some of the profound changes your committee had instigated over the preceding three years to put the Club on a proper secure financial footing and to alter our relationship with Kelsey to reflect the changed circumstances.  These issues have all quite properly been fully reported and discussed as they have developed, particularly at subsequent AGMs.
 
The reason for bringing this to your attention again is that the Club is about to enter a new and exciting phase.
 
Just to recap; Kelsey, who publish this magazine agreed, in recognition of the benefit they derive from the Club attending shows and events round the country to sponsor us and also to pay commission for each magazine subscription we sold. This deal comes to an end in March 2016. 
 
It is to be replaced by a new arrangement whereby we shall have our own membership list that will comprise of new subscribers or those rejoining who have been signed up by us.  It will be our responsibility to notify these members when their subscriptions fall due for renewal and they will not receive reminders from Kelsey.  Kelsey will have their own list of those who subscribed through them; subscribers on this list will not be members of the Club.
 
This will have several benefits;
Firstly it will at last resolve the thorny problem of membership of the Club as opposed to just subscribing to the magazine, as we shall have our own membership list that will be kept up to date. 
Secondly, Kelsey has agreed to continue to post the magazine, on our behalf and, more importantly, the arrangement will be on a proper commercial footing, whereby we will purchase the magazines for each member and pay an annual rate fixed in advance for their delivery.
Other added benefits include, for example, the ability to insert fliers or entry forms with the magazine to be sent to members only.  It has also been agreed that we shall retain the existing four pages for Club news and one page for Club Merchandise.
 
As I said earlier the Club is embarking on an exciting new phase. One designed to be of mutual benefit to all parties.
  I must single out Phil Weeden, Kelsey's Managing Director, for particular thanks. He was supportive during the difficult early days of these negotiations, provided help when needed through our restructuring period, making time to meet with us and for his positive approach throughout, culminating in the arrangement that we have now reached.
 

 
Rallies and Safety: 
Over the past year there have been some tragic accidents that could seriously affect all of us. The most serious was the terrible loss of eleven lives when a Hunter jet crashed while performing an acrobatic display during the Shoreham air show in August.
There have been other incidents, for example in East Anglia a steam engine coming off a low loader causing serious injuries to a bus driver, and an accident when a car ploughed into a trailer being drawn by a tractor on the A12. 
We all know how the press treats such accidents, in the
case of the low loader, it makes a much better story to emphasize that the load was a vintage steamer when surely nature of the load was immaterial, the fact that it was insecurely attached was the problem.
Likewise the press report of accident on the A12 concentrated on the tractor driver being a seventy year old and that it was a vintage David Brown tractor with a maximum speed of 12 miles per hour, virtually nothing was said about the 25 year old car driver who ran into the back of the trailer and should have been looking where he was going. You must draw your own conclusion as to why both reports emphasized the vintage connection, which actually had nothing to do with the accident in either case.
 
According to Benjamin Disraeli, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics," statistically no spectator had been killed at an air show, in this country, prior to the Shoreham disaster for sixty-two years. This may sound reassuring but unfortunately the selective use of statistics is often used as evidence to justify knee jerk reactions, leading to oppressive and unnecessary restrictions. Following a serious accident it is sensible to review safety procedures and perhaps introduce temporary restrictions but it is vitally important to see if the existing codes of practice were followed before imposing any new requirements.
 
The point I'm making is that safety is the responsibility of us all and when accidents occur, quite apart from the devastating effect to anyone injured the knock on consequences can seriously affect the rally scene. No doubt you will recall the fatality involving a bus at Bentwarters some years ago that resulted in the demise of Bill Kemball's really excellent 'Power of the Past' event.   I'm sure that you've all witnessed both exhibitors and the general public doing thoughtless things, I could put it much more strongly, fortunately in most cases they get away with it and no one is hurt.  I certainly don't want to be a killjoy but last year I watched a low loader pull onto the rally field carrying a steam ploughing engine that was secured using nothing but ratchet straps, not a chain in sight.  At another event tractor men were observing the speed limit on the field but I saw a Ford 4000 being driven flat out on wet grass in the camping area and had a child or animal run from between the caravans there would almost certainly have been a disaster.  Tractors just don't stop quickly on wet grass. Please be safe and think of others an accident might well effect every one's enjoyment of our hobby for years to come.
 

 
Registrations and the DVLA: 
 
Those of you with vehicles built before 1st January 1975 can now claim historic vehicle tax class for them.  As the taxation rate for an agricultural machine is nil, I am often asked why register a tractor's class as a historic vehicle?  I have taken advice from the DVLA and am told that if it was built prior to 1975 it should only be classed as Agricultural Machine if that is it's use, but it should be classed as Historic Vehicle if it is destined for shows and the like.  So the class chosen should depend entirely if it is a working tractor.  But bear in mind the sting in the tail, which is that rebated diesel may only be used in working tractors
 

 
From around the Country:
 
The FFA Northern Ploughing Championship held on Sunday 1st of November: 
Roger Ingham writes, a foggy FFA Final - an Organisers Nightmare!  Two days before the event there was two inches of rain.  Saturday came fine and bright so off we go and peg out, by darkness all the signs, pegs etc. was completed - what a rush.
 
On Sunday 6am I looked out the window FOG that's all we needed, but up and off with the gates open and gateway straitened up all ready by 7.30am. The ploughmen arrived, unfortunately they needed a bit of help to get to the parking area, but good help with a tractor sorted them out. The fog became worse but by 10am all seventy competitors had disappeared into the fog to their plots.  By 11am it cleared slightly and we could just see half way down a mile long field kindly provided by Hartley Farms and Paul Saxton their manager.
 
The fog stayed all day but did not deter the keen ploughmen who turned out some excellent plots and were well judged by a good team of judges.  FFA ploughmen were to the fore and in the prizes and kept the flag flying for our club. Chris Donaldson was the trailer plough Champion, Arthur Jennings won the vintage mounted class and Anthony Boland was the overall and classic champion. 
 
Chris Donaldson -  Northern Trailer Champion
 
Anthony Bolden Northern Classic And Overall Champion
 
After the prize giving the towing out and sweeping the road began it was dark when we finished. 
 
Already next year's site is fixed and plans are being made for another highly successful FFA final. Thanks to all our sponsors and helpers for making the 2015 match another success.
 
Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show held on 7th and 8th November:
Our new marquee stood up to the high winds without any trouble and the additional room was appreciated.  Some of the traders' shelters succumbed to the stormy conditions and blew over, the moral of the story is to have proper gear and enough helpers to both erect and take down successfully. I must thank Pat Howes, Peter Price and Ken Bailey for the help they gave putting it up, we all got rather damp and Rodney's 'Kent crew, David & Nathan Coleman and Peter Mitcham' who manfully helped with taking it down on Sunday.
Member's tractors were judged and Philip Warren's County Super 6 was quite superb, have a chat with him or Ron Fellgett next time you meet up about the engine rebuild, it really was quite a saga.
       
Best in Show
               Philip Warren - County Super 6
 
                             Best Unrestored
       Stephen Mear - Fordson Major ( Old Smokey)
                      The one to Take Home
Stuart Eastmead - Ford 9NAN
 
The show was a little spoilt by the building replacement programme, which meant that the Lady Eastwood pavilion was out of commission and I personally the features marquee left me rather flat this year and I thought that the nominated tractors were squashed in like sardines so that they could not be properly appreciated.  It's easy to criticise but we had a very successful shoe.
 
The Classic Motor Show held at the National Exhibition Centre on 13 to 15 November:
This was a first for the Club indeed we had the only tractors in the show and I was surprised by the amount of interest shown in them. Tim Pearman took his 9600 that always draws attention and so did Ian Prince's 'Pool' tractor. It was certainly an interesting experience even if on the Saturday the halls were very crowded.
 
 

 
Forthcoming Events:
 
Andrew Green from Devon writes: Our next meeting is on 27th January when John Lowe is coming to talk to us about "The Boys" which is a fascinating story about the crew of a WW2 bomber which crashed on Dartmoor in March 1941. His presentation captures the mood of 1941, relating the story behind the stark granite memorial that now honours the final resting place of the RAF Hampden bomber. This is one evening not to be missed!
On the 24th February, we continue with a members evening of Ford & Fordson tractor memorabilia which is an opportunity to bring along photos, brochures & souvenirs and just to enjoy our mutual hobby.
It should be a fun, relaxing evening as usual.
 
Eastern Counties Vintage Tractor & Heritage Spectacular; to be held on 9th & 10th April on the Norfolk showground. 
The special feature this year is tractor and matching plough, there will be all the usual displays and the Club's exhibits will be indoors as usual.  Please  contact Keith Broomhall on 01379677866 who will again be organizing our display so that he knows what is coming.  It really does make putting on a good display difficult when one has no idea of what to expect.
 
 
Tractor World, "Spring Show": to be held on 27th and 28th February. Earlier than usual this year and I'm keeping my fingers crossed hoping that the buildings will be insulated. There will also be more room and a new layout plus new exhibits including a commercial section.  I gather we shall be in the same hall as last year when the Club won first prize for the Best Club Stand in the show, a hard act to follow.  We shall again hold the Club's AGM in the Friesian Hall on the Sunday.  Do come along and take part, it is your chance to have your say, suggest improvements to the way the club is run or become more involved by standing for a place on the committee.
 
We shall have entry forms for both the Ford & Fordson Association's Expo X11 2016  at Woodcote Steam and Vintage Transport Rally on 9th and 10th July and The FFA Family Weekend on 6th and 7th August.
 
Tractor World, "Autumn Show" is to be held on 8th and 9th October
This is a new event and will be held partly as indoor event and partially outside, they have a new exhibition hall.  Further details of this event will be published as they become available but the Club intends to exhibit so if you are taking tractors do mark your entry form accordingly.
 

 
Your view about the Club pages please:
 
Several of you have contacted me complaining about the loss of two of the Club pages in the last issue.
 
To explain, in March 2014, at a meeting with Kelsey at Tractor World, we asked for an increase in the space allocated to cover Club affairs in the magazine. The request was granted on the understanding that we would provide both the words and photographs to fill it; at the same time the provision of a further page for merchandise promotion was confirmed. The affect was that the two pages that were then given to Club affairs were increased to four making five pages in all.  The first such issue was No 61 out in May 2014 and this format continued for the next seven issues until the October/November 2015 magazine, issue 70. 
We welcome Peter Love's return, as magazine editor for the December / January issue.  In that issue Peter decided as editor, that to increase the magazines circulation he would reduce our four dedicated pages to two and use the two pages so released for other content.  The first I knew of this is when the magazine dropped through my letterbox.
 
Peter has since called me and said that our four pages would be reinstated but that we should change the content limiting Club reporting to two pages and that the other two pages should comprise pieces, for example, about members' tractors, restoration etc. 
 
In other words half the content should be about items not directly linked to Club affairs but of general interest.  I have always included general interest items in the Club pages to try and make them more interesting; in fact the non-Club content has averaged some 30% since the four pages began. 
 
Judging from the comments made to me over the last eighteen months you are, by and large happy with the content, but I'm always looking to improve it so if you have any suggestions please give me a call or better still send an email to fordsonclub@gmail.com like it or loath it I really do want to know what you think.
 

 
Finally:
There is continuing chatter about inter-club rivalry (read Blue force) and frankly it is about time it stopped.  It's of no interest to me and indeed talking to other tractor men it's of no interest to them either.  We have good relations with all clubs, both at home and abroad and that is it should be.
 
When we go to shows we go to enjoy the tractors, to meet like-minded enthusiasts and for the craic, Of course there will be competition with fellow exhibitors, perhaps to put on a better display or to attract more new members but that's no more than good-natured healthy competition.   
 
Many of our members also belong to Blue Force and the same is just as true in the reverse, we are all part of the same brotherhood with a common interest in all things Ford.  You all have friends that belong to a different clubs and just because they have chosen a different club that will in no way lessen your friendship. 
 
So if you still make New Year resolutions try this one - From now on let's forget about who belongs to which Club and just enjoy our tractors and friends.