This year’s Great Dorset Steam Fair certainly had people talking but not always for the reasons the organisers would have wished......
It was the show’s fiftieth anniversary an achievement of which they were rightly proud and I must say that the numbers and range of the steam exhibits were quite splendid as was the Great War display that has been developed over the last five years but this, being the centennial anniversary of the signing of the armistice was its final year. Dorset always manages to produce a new rabbit out of the hat and it is a show where one meets up with friends that you don’t see at any other shows.
Great Dorset Steam Fair Ltd. is a professionally run plc and after staging the event for fifty years it beggars belief that the organisers could have got the provision of toilets so disastrously wrong. Martin Oliver apologised on Steam FM for their shortcomings by explaining that the provision of toilets was put out for tender as usual and that the cheapest bid was accepted.
This demonstrates at best a poor understanding of a proper tendering procedure that if carried out correctly will obtain a good service at the lowest practical cost, but only if there is a stringent assessment process when evaluating the bids. We have all witnessed the incompetence of government tendering where millions of pounds of our money have been wasted on computer programmes that don’t work and other such follies, but we are not speaking of high technology complicated systems here, we are talking about lavatories, it’s basic stuff. Any tender document must clearly specify the quantity of product required, in this case loos, the type and number needed and their distribution round the ground together with the level of servicing etc. required.
The evaluation process must also confirm that the successful provider can meet both the quality of product and service specified for example by running a check on their past performance to ensure that it is likely to meet its obligations. If during the selection process to much emphasis is focused on the lowest cost, it will certainly drive that down but it will inevitably also drive down the quality of service provided.
It is such a shame that the fiftieth anniversary of this great show should have been spoilt by such a basic error. Let us hope that this was no more than an unfortunate blip, that lessons have been learnt and that it will soon be forgotten. Here’s to the next fifty years.
Great Dorset aside there has been much talk about the rally scene in general. There is no denying that many shows raise worthwhile sums for highly deserving charitable causes, play an educational roll and also help to preserve our heritage and provide pleasure to exhibitors and public alike. This all sounds like a “win – win” situation but unfortunately that is not always the case.
They say that money is the root of all evil and it may well have been a contributory factor in Dorset’s debacle, but it also seems to me to be the prime reason for some of the problems affecting our hobby. When someone wants to raise money for a ‘good’ cause all too often his or her first choice is to inaugurate a heritage event to raise it. Any new event unfortunately has three unintended effects, the first is that it dilutes the pool of exhibitors that existing events rely on, the second is that it further overloads an already bursting show calendar and thirdly of course it inevitably reduces everyone else’s gate receipts.
A strong case can be made that events should combine and cooperate rather than compete directly with one another. If done with a spirit of good will it could result in better more interesting events and reduction of the costs involved to stage them, as there would be fewer shows, thereby making more money available for good causes. I know that several rally committees find that sourcing the volunteers needed to build their shows, then operate and finally clear up afterwards increasingly difficult, so it could also help on that front........ I don’t expect that much will change but it should be considered.
Book Review: ‘The Combine Harvester’
Another new soft cover book by Jonathan Whitlam. It is a similar format to the previous two volumes and is again from Amberley Publishing, it measures 234mm x 165mm with 96 pages and is profusely illustrated with matt colour mostly half page illustrations, priced at £14-99; the book is not on glossy paper.
This book tells the story from the inception of the early machines known as reaper-threshers that were derived from two separate machines, the binder and the threshing drum and charts its course from these early, rather cumbersome trailed implements, through to the arrival of the self-propelled combine harvester. It covers the combines development, both the earlier straw walker designs and later axial flow types and touches on possible future developments of the leviathans of today.
It is packed with information and shows examples of brands once quite popular but now no more and certainly brought back memories of how itchy the job used to be particularly in barley and how black one was at the end of the day when cutting beans, a worthy addition to your book shelf.
From Around the Country:
Dacorum Steam and Country Fayre - July 28th & 29th
John Worley our Hertfordshire Representative writes, this year’s show was another success on the Saturday as the weather held, although rather windy, but by Sunday we had started rain and this put a damper on events.
There were 30 Ford or Fordson Tractors out of a total of 60. Models included Standard N, Dexta’s Major, 4000, Power Major, 3000, Super Major, and the best turned out went to Dick Trotts, DOE 130.
This Tractor is winning at all our local show and is a credit to Dick and the restorers.
On a sad note, we remembered Ivan Papworth who had passed away some weeks earlier and who made his living by restoring Tractors and Steam Engines. More about this later, when we shall be reporting on having a road run to raise funds for the family charity.
Thanks go to the organisers for another well run-event, let us hope that it was a money-making show as the funds raised will go to the Hospice of St Francis Berkhamsted.
Pembrokeshire County Show 2018 - 14th to 16th August:
John Skipper reports. This three-day county show was my inaugural baptism as the South Wales Association Representative and it was good to start the networking at such a prestigious show - many thanks in particular to John Husband for his support. Of the 45 vintage tractors on show there were about 12 Ford and Fordson, the oldest being a restored 1945 E27N.
Celebrating the year of the Dexta it was great to see five of these workhorses lined up. Coincidence it was that my 1964 Super Dexta NP was next to another that was sold within the same six-month period that year by Greens of Haverfordwest!
The middle day of the show should have seen all the tractors parading around the main arena, but very heavy rain that day and quite a serious accident in the show jumping area saw this event cancelled. Unfortunately no Ford and Fordsons received a prize, although great credit to Michael Evans' 1950 David Brown Cropmaster for achieving best in Show. I'm glad to report there was quite a lot of interest in the Association and this has translated into some new member applications. There was a good deal of interest shown by the younger show attendees and I think it's important to raise awareness amongst these budding enthusiasts.
This is a good county show and is generally well attended over the three days - it will be held again over a similar period next year. I was a little disappointed that the vintage show area was located at the very far end of the airfield, quite a few saying they had real problems finding us. I've made that known to the organisers so hopefully we will be in a more prominent position next year.
Biddenden Tractorfest & Country Fair
18th and 19th August Ernie reports; This was my first time at this show and as I walked through the entrance and paid my very reasonable £9, I was pleasantly surprised.... a vast area of tractors, vintage equipment, steam, working area, countryside stalls, wood carving and a couple of tractor pulled carts that you could hop on and off around the site for a relaxing ride around.
Just how a Country Fair should be. There were cultivators, farm working equipment and vintage stalls, a brilliant variety from years gone by. I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and lay out of the show.
A Good Day out for anyone.
Southern Area Working Weekend
Held on 2nd and 3rd September on Langham Airfield courtesy of Rix Farms was again well attended with good weather. Member’s wives, Paula Smart and Maureen Starling provided the catering and an excellent job they made of it too. Eighteen tractors attended on each day and there was a brilliant atmosphere. These ‘fun’ events are becoming more popular, perhaps everyday life is already competitive enough and people just want to exercise themselves and their ‘toys’ without the competitive element of, for example, a ploughing match? Some £478 was raised in aid of the Air Ambulance service. An excellent event and our particular thanks go to the landowner and to Roger Starling.
Kent Ploughing Match
at Melmains Farm 26th September Rodney Gibson reports, , a good day with 3 tractors on the stand. Peter Mitchem brought his narrow Dexta 1958. I brought my narrow Dexta 1962 and Andy Edmunds brought his narrow Fordson N. Kent Area Representative John Vowel Kent was on plough off with his Power Major and Ransoms plough. Bob Baseby FFA member came second with his New Performance Major and Ransoms plough.
We recruited new members wife Grace Moon, who cooks good sausage rolls, cheese straws and cakes and kept us with food all day. Thanks Grace, watch this space...
Autumn Tractor World, held at Newbury October 6th and 7th, Lin Prince reports: this show is now in its third year but for some reason remains quite small. Tractor clubs were well represented as were some of the well-known tractor spares companies and an assortment of other traders. There was also a selection of commercials to look at. The weather was good on Friday and Sunday but Saturday was cold, wet and windy. Despite this the auction did well but the weather may have kept some of the public away.
There was a nice display of Fordson Standards ranging through the ages on the Blue Force stand, mainly owned by one of their members. On the FFA stand we had Peter Nutley’s Land Army display, two Dextas a narrow and a Super and our Sandbanks Ferry Power Major along with merchandise sales and teas and coffees. This combination won us the best club stand trophy again.
68th National Ploughing Championships
Held at Atherstone, 13th and 14th October.
The weather was unkind with high wind and some rain on Saturday, the rain stopped in late morning but the wind kept blowing and we had to give up trying to erect the Club marquee. By afternoon the sun shone and it turned pleasantly warm even though the wind persisted and we had a good look round. I was particularly taken with the Foden steam tractor coupled to a Ransome trailer plough and also by the double drum Howard 8 hp built around 1876 that was demonstrating ‘windlass’ ploughing, you don’t see one of these working very often. There were some interesting tractors on the stand especially Ben Hassel’s imposing and practically unique County HSH 140 that was originally exported to Africa where it languished for many years on the dock side before working in Zimbabwe. David Suttons Howard trencher fitted to a Ford 5000 on rotor pads also drew a steady throng of observers throughout the weeken; these combinations were quite a common sight on Majors but more unusual on the later Fords.
The Club’s ploughmen had all qualified at earlier events but unfortunately mainly due to mechanical problems three were unable to attend. They were due to perform on Sunday that turned out to be both cold and wet but nevertheless I thought they made a splendid job in adverse conditions.
The results were:
Champion: Stephen Jones - Ford 4100 and Ransome TS 59 plough
Second: John Lewis - Fordson Dexta and Ransome TS 59
Third: Terence Stinson - Ford 3000 and Ransome TS 59
Steven Jones and John Lewis, Club Champion and runner up....ploughing away.
Well Done Guy's
Stephen’s 4100 was the only tractor fitted with a cab and I expect he was pleased about having some protection. I must say I liked John Snape’s E27N and TD 59 outfit and felt for Harry Williams with his lovely P6 powered N and RSLD 9 combination as his plough’s lift mechanism failed and he was forced to wind it out after each run that made for hard work in unfavourable conditions. It was the sort of day that sorts the men from the boys and they all passed with flying colours. Our thanks to ploughman’s wife Michelle Partridge and Raymond Govier, who had tractor trouble and was unable to plough for acting as Club Stewards.
We had trouble leaving site on the Monday as there had been more rain overnight and it continued damp in the morning. Sue and I were grateful for the help given to us by one of the ploughman Rob Laybourn, who had been ploughing in class 2 on Saturday, he came over with his International and Kverneland plough and not only helped us all hook up but towed us getting on for a mile to the road, complete with loaded lorry and caravan
Andrew Green from Devon writes:
I'm sat in glorious October sunshine as a wonderful conclusion to a memorable Summer! However this spell can't last too long, after all we are into our winter evening meetings season! The next date is December 7th when Julian Pratt is coming to talk to us about his early years when he was employed as a racing car mechanic and subsequently as a race driver. This was originally cancelled back in February due to snow, so let's hope history doesn't repeat itself! Looking further ahead to next year, we have dates booked at Whiddon Down on 23rd January and 27th February and more information will follow in due course.
We are already starting to note events for next year. The Somerset Tractor Show is to be held on the weekend of 26th and 27th January at Shepton Mallet with a special display of IH tractors and including the usual sale on the Saturday. We wish Nick Bryne and his colleagues the very best for another successful Charitable event. Also please note down Tractor World at Malvern which incorporates our very own FFA AGM on February 23rd and 24th. I have also been asked to draw your attention to our County Show on May 16th to 18th at Westpoint and also the Honiton Hill Rally on 25th and 26th August. It all seems some long way off but it will be here all too soon!
Well that's all for now and as I usually say, please keep in touch : Andrew Chilverton
Coming Event News: 2018 & 2019
Isle of Wight Road Run to be held on 27th December. For details contact David Lemonius Pool Barn, Thorncross, Newport, IW, PO30 4PN Telephone 07831 773561.
2019 Spring Tractor World at Malvern February 23rd and 24th
This traditionally is the Club’s show opener, and we shall be having our AGM there as usual, please do come and have your say. Preferably bring a tractor and be part of our display, the Club’s special feature at the show will be the Fordson model N so you might like to take part in that. Get your entries in to Mark but remember to put the FFA on your entry form and if you need any help please contact Ian and Lin Prince on 01268 710143
The Heritage and Transport April 6th
Held on the Kent show ground where they are featuring the N and would like to display ninety model Ns.
Contact Rodney Gibson on 01795 841775
As 2019 fast approaches we have another tractor anniversary to celebrate, the birth of the Fordson N. It is fact that the first model N was demonstrated in 1928 with an Oliver 38 three furrow plough, but production did not commence at Cork until April 1929. So, you pays your money and takes your choice. Actually it’s a very similar scenario to the Dexta’s launch at Alexandra Palace in 1957, although probably most examples displayed were partial mock-ups, but production did not start until the following year. After the ground-breaking launch of the Fordson F in 1917 the improved version, the model N, is hardly less important to Britain’s survival through the dark days of war that followed.
I expect that the N will feature strongly at events this year, I know of two to date the first is as part of the FFA display at Spring Tractor World at Malvern on February 23rd and 24th and the other is the Kent Heritage and Transport Show on 6th April.