First Fordson Rally

Fordson tractor Rally

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Fordson Tractor Club, 250 Robinson Road, Cave Junction, Oregon 97523

This past fall I attended the first annual Fordson tractor 'rally' which was held at Spittal Moor Farm, Bothamsall, Nottingham, England, October 10,11,1981. While I was the only American in attendance, other countries represented were Scotland, Ireland, Wales and of course, England.

This Fordson Magazine-sponsored reunion event was held in conjunction with the 'Notts Group' of the National Vintage Tractor and Engine Club of Great Britain.

Held on a very large farm cleared from what was once part of Sherwood Forest of Robin Hood fame, this two-day 'meet' (with an extra day at each end to set up and tear down) was a huge spectacle of over 110 vintage (antique) tractors, including 60 Fordsons, and the others of American, French, German, and Italian make; 147 'barn' engines (like the small ones we exhibit in America) many of which most Americans have never heard of were really fascinating. A large variety of steam traction engines (steam tractors); combining and threshing exhibits were held daily. Included also were ploughing (plowing) matches; a carnival; flea market; commercial exhibits; Saturday night square dance and American barbecue, and much, much more!

The Fordson Pavilion, with space for 50 entries, contained 42 Fordson entrants who braved the very cold weather, some having been driven over the winding English roads from as far as 100 kilometers away.

As in America, many brought caravans (travel trailers), motor-homes and tents to 'camp out' for the four days.

Arthur Battelle, publisher of the English Fordson Magazine, director of the English Fordson Tractor Club, and sponsor of the Fordson Pavilion, offered many prizes for the Fordson entries ranging from plowing, oldest entry, best restored entry, the one traveling the fartherest, etc. and among the many prizes were the American Fordson Tractor Club T-shirts, emblems and buttons.

The weather alternated between pouring rain (usually at night) to strong, gusty North Atlantic winds which kept me in long Johns and ski gloves, but didn't seem to bother the English who are much acclimated to this weather. Besides, the high winds tended to dry out the fields for the Sunday plowing matches. Mr. Battelle's Fordson sign and flag pole were blown over Saturday night, snapping the 'guy-wires', but it only just brushed the corner of his caravan on the way down.

The plowing match on Sunday attracted a large number of enthusiastic entries, which meant they had to bring their plow with them for great distances. Judges would walk alongside of the tractors plowing, adding and subtracting points for many technical aspects. This is a big thing in England and sparks local, regional and national competition. There are many entries possible from real ancient tractors to more modern ones with hydraulic lifts. It was really a sight to see and hear the steam traction engines pulling their multi-bottomed plows back and forth to a deep rumble emanating from the smoke stacks.

While the majority of entries in the plowing matches were Fordsons, a number of other makes of tractors participated, including a beautifully restored 1936 Ferguson-Brown 'A' on steel, which incorporated the world's first three-point hydraulic plow lift, later incorporated into the 1939 Ford-Ferguson 9-N. This was displayed by its owner who brought it via truck from near Chester, England.

On the last day, the finale was a Grand Parade of all runnable vehicles from tractors to antique cars to antique military vehicles, and as each paraded in front of the grandstand, they were introduced by Mr. Charles Cawood, who kept up a running commentary on the history and restoration of each vehicle. Mr. Cawood is well known on the Continent as the world's authority on 'vintage' tractors, and has written a number of books, some available in America.

As National Director of the American Fordson Tractor Club and the American representative for the 'Fordson Magazine', during the ceremonies I presented the 100th American and Canadian subscription to Mr. Battelle (publisher) which was from Mr. William Reynolds of Rockport, Indiana. I also carried on my lap on the jet, a Fordson 1918 Holley 234 manifold and its component parts in my briefcase to be re-manufactured in England. That was quite an experience going through customs!

The second annual 'Fordson Rally' will be held two years from now, and will feature special facilities and touring for those from the American Continent and elsewhere who might like to attend, including trips to hauted houses, ancient castles, museums and private tractor and engine collections. I hope there might be some future interest in this first, and future 'Fordson Rallies.'