I have to say that sitting in my study in the cool writing this is really rather pleasant as its a tad too warm for me outside on this the hottest day yet of this exceptional summer weather we have been enjoying. Actually it has been almost too hot and dry so far this year, of course it must break eventually and we really mustn't complain, but I cannot recall such a prolonged period without rain, at least in this part of the country, nor one that has been so hot for so long. Some rallies have suffered a quite dramatic drop in gate receipts mostly, I think, because it has been just too hot for the paying public to attend and if you watch the crowds it appears that often people just stay for an hour or so rather than for most of the day as they usually do. You cannot altogether blame them, in this weather, as many sites offer neither shade nor anywhere to sit and relax for a spell.

Talking to both visitors and exhibitors it would seem that the attendance problems facing some events run deeper than that caused by a passing heat wave. There will always be those who criticise everything on principle but do nothing to improve matters themselves, they make a lot of noise but frankly their views are usually best ignored as they add nothing new nor do they offer anything constructive to the debate. However there are several recurring arguments that might improve the experience of attending rallies that perhaps organisers should consider and a few points that do affect attendance but are unfortunately outside their control.

The comment most often heard is that there are just too many rallies, its a fair point and it might be better all-round if there were a few less but of better quality. Any rally should provide enough 'substance' to make an interesting day out for both punter and exhibitor but in many cases particularly at the smaller ones there is no more than an hour or two at best. I know that it's 'meeting people' that largely makes it all worthwhile for us exhibitors, but you are there usually for at least two days?

Both the entry fee and the food and beer concessions should be reasonably priced too, certainly if you wish families to attend there must be something for the ladies and children. The gate receipts really suffer if there is nothing to draw the family.

Free or cheap site transport is increasingly important as we are all getting older and find large rally fields difficult to get round.

Several rallies, I mention no names and no pack drill here, are getting very tired with the same layout and formula followed every year and, in many cases the same exhibits, it may make life easy for the stewards, but it doesn't do much either for the regular punters or the exhibitors.

For exhibitors the cost of diesel has risen sharply again which makes one-day events and distant sites relatively expensive to attend.

Steam attendance payments continue to be a bone of contention for tractor men, but it does give us something to talk about and is unlikely to change much in the foreseeable future. I think it's simply that years ago the steam boys were better negotiators than our men were, it may not be logical or justifiable but that's life.

I do think rally programs should be given to exhibitors, in some cases it may be justifiable to make a small charge or ask for a donation. Dorset charges £7 each, or did last year, and you really need a programme to plan your viewing itinerary at a rally of that size - but charging exhibitors £7?

The practise of a few exhibitors that leave early without a good reason should be stopped - it is a free country and they cannot legally be prevented from leaving, but just ban them next year, its that simple. I've left rallies early because of necessity but I always explained why to the steward first and have never had a problem. We sign up to stay on our pegs and should honour that commitment unless the punters leave early. It's always the same ones who go first!

We all have opinions on improvements that could or should be made and those listed above are the ones I hear most often but there is one more that I think merits a separate mention. Safety. None of us like rules but there are too many accidents that could be avoided not to mention those we have all seen that 'nearly happened'. Rules and rally site regulations are in place to protect the public and exhibitors alike and I would particularly stress the importance of observing the usual 5 m.p.h. site speed limits, the illegality of having more than one person on a tractor and in particularly under age and reckless driving. Compliance must be rigidly enforced, make no mistake one bad slip up and the killjoys will try to impose further swingeing restrictions on future events, just look at how some people misuse Health and Safety regulations now.

The importance of having the correct licence to drive cannot be over-emphasised. A long time member was pulled over by the police because his vehicle was registered as a box van and is now a flat bed, not because of any infringement. That probably wouldn't have mattered but of course they checked his licence, he still has a paper one and thought he was entitled to drive it under grandfather's rights. He thought that these were never taken away, of course they were not but if you did not apply for the class of licence you required within the period allocated for such applications they effectively did. Be warned.

Book Review:

'New Holland Tractors' a new soft cover book by Jonathan Whitlam. This is the sequel to 'Ford Tractors' reviewed a month or so back from Amberley Publishing and again measures 234mm x 165mm with 96 pages and some hundred fifty matt colour mostly half page illustrations, priced at £14-99; the book is again not on glossy paper. It is a similar format to the previous volume and although the text runs to only some thirteen pages it is densely packed with information.

It does seem strange that although this book covers a relatively short period of time that there have been so many different models in these few years, a result of various Fiat acquisitions and the establishment of New Holland as a world brand. I feel that it was a pity that the paper quality was not better as it does not really do justice to the high quality of the photographs. I did like this edition better than the previous title and it proved a welcome addition to a New Holland enthusiast's book shelf.

From Around the Country:

Whitwell Steam and Country Fair - 9th and 10th June held at Codicote near Hitchin. This was my first visit to this rally for many years; it has grown considerably since and the present site is much better. I had hoped to meet up with John Worley our Hertfordshire representative as this is part of his patch but, unfortunately, he was unable to attend through ill-health, but I am glad to report he is much better now. We were made very welcome on arrival and all the Ford and Fordsons, over fifty of them, were grouped together, just as they should be. Dick Trott's splendid Doe 130 had pride of place; this tractor has been featured during its restoration in Tractor and Machinery and it looks even better in the flesh. It developed an oil leak on the front pump that just goes to show that gremlins can strike at any time they just have, in the modern parlance, 'no respect'. We met some very friendly people and it was an interesting rally, tractors on the stand were judged and our prize winners were:

Best in Show: Dick Trott - Doe 150

Best unrestored: Jack Hooper - Roadless 95

Judges Favourite:Peter RobinsonFordson N

Pink Ladies Ride Again

Jane Broomhall writes: Who would have believed that the Ladies Tractor Road Run established in July 2004 could continue with the same support and enthusiasm fifteen year later? Believe me, it does.
There is no doubt of the commitment and passion held by Annie and John Chapman, who came up with the idea all those years ago and, for every participant and supporter, the day provides a rollercoaster of emotion.
I personally am always grateful of full sunshine, so that I can wear dark glasses, or rain, so that onlookers are unable to see the tears that flow, particularly when driving through Harleston, where the crowds line the streets and cheer every driver through.
It is true to say that we all have family members or friends who have been affected by breast cancer and have seen the sometimes devastation this has caused. But, because of treatments available today, the odds of recovery are greater than ever.
On the 1st July, another of our very hot summer days, 120 ladies took to the road in support of the charity, all with a strong focus on realising the long-term ambition to reach a target of one million pounds raised. £584,000 has been raised to date.
Thank you to everyone who was kind enough to sponsor me again this year, it really is appreciated.

Journey Through The Ages

16th and 17th June at Palgrave held near Diss. This is the rally's fourth year and for the second year running it was very hot, which undoubtedly adversely affected gate receipts. This is a rally that seems to take two steps forward and then one back, it really doesn't seem to know quite where its going probably because the management does not appear to have a clear idea of what its actually trying to achieve, there was no programme again this year.

That said we had a good turn-out of Ford and Fordsons on display, which we were allowed to arrange and were given more space than last year. They ranged from Roy Pratt's 1917 MOM F Oliver and plough through to both a New Holland TM and TZ 190, with a good selection of interesting models in between. It is a very friendly rally and I hope they improve their management skills before the good will, that has been so far engendered, evaporates. The tractors on the stand were judged and prize winners were presented by Jane Broomhall:

Best in Show:
Gerald Hunting - County 4000 Four
Best unrestored:
Robert Pratt - Fordson Row crop and binder
Judges Favourite:
Roger Starling - Fordson Major and compressor

Jane Broomhall presenting Roger Starling with his prize....
Well Done Roger

Tractor Fest
9th - 10th June near Ripon, Roger Ingham reports. The weather smiled on Newby Hall at this years tractor show with a beautiful sunny weekend attracting large crowds to this, one of Yorkshires largest tractor shows. Friday saw the arrival of Margaret and Derek Badham with the stand and all its clothing and a large selection of trinkets to tempt potential purchasers to the stand. A welcome addition to the FFA stand was our president Nick Batelle with his Twenty Parts stand. Soon the stands were up and running and, complemented by Twenty Parts, it looked outstanding and we were ready for one of Margaret's famous cuppas. Saturday brought tractors from far and near filling the stand with a stunning selection of restored and unrestored gems including Alan Nicholson's stunning display of 1000 series.

On the FFA stand we had an amazing home manufactured bale handler, an ingenious bit of work, and a credit to its very pleasant genius gentleman who manned the stand all weekend explaining how it worked what a nice chap.

Crowds flocked in on both days and we all enjoyed another wonderful weekend in Newby Halls lovely grounds. Thanks to all FFA members for calling on the stand and bringing their stunning tractors, also to all our staff on the stand and to Twenty Parts for joining us and making a great weekend of the 2018 show season.

The Kent County & Heritage Show
6th - 8th July.
Our website genius - Ernie - reports: As you know 2018 is the Centenary of the end of WW1 and the show displays included 'The Kent, the aircraft flies in memory of No. 131 (County of Kent) Fighter Squadron and the Kent Spitfire completed an exciting display over the Kent Showground on all three Show days.

Also the 'Everyone Remembered 1914 - 1918 " Bronze Centenary Soldier, with poppy cascade encased statue, that is touring the country. The Household Cavalry Musical Ride in the main area and a superb poppy display in the Gardeners tent. Next year the Kent County Show will be celebrating a milestone, our 90th Show on 5th, 6th & 7th July 2019, come and see what is going on for you then.

Kent County & Heritage Show Full Report
& more photos click here

Cambridgeshire Steam and Vintage Vehicle Rally
July 14th - 15th Stow- Cum - Quy
Lin Prince reports:- the sun rose over Quy Park for the start and kept shining all weekend; it wasn't half hot. The organiser requested that all the Ford and Fordson tractors be parked together in front of the FFA stand.

There was about 20 tractors, various models over the two days. These ranged in age from a harvest gold standard to a Ford 3600, E27Ns being the most popular model.

But unfortunately not as many exhibited as listed in the programme. Perhaps they were doing what a lot of the public must have been doing, watching football and tennis. Our thanks to Ray and Vanda for all their help over a glorious weekend.

Andrew Green from Devon reports:

As I write this in the midst of our Devon Show season, I always marvel at the commitment of organisers, exhibitors and above all else the numbers of people who turn up to make all of these events such a great success - admittedly some nice weather does help and makes a huge difference! Comparisons are being made with the 1976 summer but locally comments are that this drought is more severe due to the wet autumn and winter of 2017, so that crops didn't have properly developed root systems. However, we are enjoying a wonderful Show season and an upturn in lots of extra tourism and a boost to the local economy.

We are now looking ahead to the Autumn. I have booked up our usual evening meeting venue of Whiddon Down Village Hall and please make a note of these dates and put them in your diary NOW, they are all Wednesdays:- 7th November, 5th December, 23rd January and 27th February 2019. I am currently working on organising speakers and/or entertainment. One meeting will probably be a rearranged evening with Julian Pratt recounting his motor racing experiences, which originally fell victim to the snow at the end of February. If you do have any suggestions or contacts to help me please do let me know as it is always quite difficult to provide interesting topics.

Well, that's all for now but as I always say, keep in touch:- This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Late Event News:

The Fairford, Faringdon, Filkins & Burford Ploughing Society's annual ploughing match is to be held on 29th September at Clanfield, Oxon, OX18 2SU. This year is their big 70, there is a class for pre-1976 Ford and Fordson tractors without safety cabs and the winner will be offered one of the FFA's plots at next year's Nationals. Contact Bob Jeffrey on 01451 833636 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Megan Saunders wwwploughingmatch.co.uk

The Dutch FFA Ploughing Match, will be held October 20th at Noorderweg 9621 BN Slochteren (Groningen). All enquiries to Jans Stevens at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 0031 0 640469094. My thanks to Gerrard Schoenmakers for this.

Northern FFA Ploughing Championship is to be held by kind permission of the landowner Mr Peter Zeigler and Scarcroft and District Ploughing Society on Sunday 11th of November at 10 am at Sweep Hill Farm Wetherby. All FFA members are welcome.
Contact Roger Ingham for information on 01937 531532

Some shows & Rallies for 2018:

6-7 Tractor World, Newbury FFA
6-7 FFA Southern area ploughing match
13 -14 British Ploughing Championships, Austrey, Nr Atherstone, Warks, CV9 3ED FFA
20 Dutch FFA Ploughing Match at Noorderweg 9621 BN Slochteren
10 - 11 Newark Vintage Tractor and Heritage Show FFA
11 Northern Area FFA Ploughing Championships at Sweep Hill Farm Wetherby

I would just like to congratulate The Starting Handle Club and especially Mike Curtis and Bob Parke for the excellent way that the Summer Show at Marsham is organised. The camping area was clearly marked out which saves a lot of hassle, the loos were cleaner when I left than they are at many rallies when you arrive. It is a well-run friendly event and their teams hard work certainly paid off.

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