Our Tour of England

By Staff
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Sheila Wendel and Ed Westen pose before the 'engine shed' for the mine engine at Blist's Hill Open Air Museum near Iron-bridge. The ancient steam hoisting engine within actually operates under steam at various times during the day. This is but one of many
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Another view of a modified 1928 Model F Fordson shows its two-cylinder opposed piston diesel engine. Although of the Junkers design, the engine was actually built by Company Liloise De Moteurs in France.
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Ye olde Reflector and John Caldwell with some of John's tractors in the background. John and the Ayrshire Vintage Engine & Tractor Club hosted our group at John's farm near Kilmarnock, Scotland. This included putting on a mini-show especially for our grou
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Veteran U.S. Fordson Collector, V. C. Puckett of Buford, Georgia, was especially excited about the Fordson 500 Rally, since it epitomized his personal collecting goals. After a whole day on the grounds, all of us on the tour got back on the coach tired, b
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Modifications and adaptations abounded for the Fordson tractors at the Fordson 500 tractor rally. This one was specially equipped with a trenching machine, although there were numerous others fitted with everything from winches to highway mowing machines.
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This rather unusual Renault tractor was present at the mini-show put on by the Ayrshire Vintage Engine & Tractor Club. The Renault shown here is equipped with a diesel engine.
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John Caldwell at Kilmarnock has specialized in Massey-Harris tractors for several years, and displayed a very nice collection. Massey-Harris tractors are quite popular in England and Scotland.
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The Fordson 500 Rally was billed as being the first and only attempt to corral 500 Fordson tractors in one place at one time. Ultimately, the official count came to 1,002 tractors of every description. Shown here is but one view of a huge showground liter
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At the Tatton Park Rally, as well as at the British Royal Show, we discovered some operating pole lathes. These were the earliest examples of a lathe, and we learned that a few people in England have once again taken up the art of preserving the craft. We
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We even saw a nicely restored Massey-Harris 4WD tractor at the Kilmarnock show, with a nicely restored M-M tractor in the background. Immediately to the left is a glimpse of a nicely restored vintage two truck.
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Among the many adaptations was this two-cylinder model fitted with a French-built diesel engine of the famous German Junkers design. Although we never heard this one run, it exemplifies the efforts made to continually improve the Fordson tractor.

For Sheila and myself, the tour started a week early. We had
long talked of visit with various friends in England, and so we
left Chicago on June 12, arriving in Manchester the following
morning. John Coventry of Wade Farm Tours met us at the airport and
kindly took us over to Oasby, near Grantham, where we stayed for
nearly a week with Royce Long land and his daughter, Angela. They
escorted us all over the countryside, along with Ron Knight, who
took us to some additional sights in Lincolnshire.

Decent farmland in Lincolnshire sells for $4,000 U.S. and up per
acre, so farming is very intensive to make the investment pay.
Accordingly, only the best technologies permit survival, and we saw
more different farming methods than are used in the US. We also
visited several very nice museums, and a great many of them feature
implements, tractors, and other items related to the history of
mechanized agriculture. There are also a few of the huge post mills
left in Lincolnshire, and we saw one of these huge windmills that
looked to be in occasional use, although it was closed, since we
stopped there late on a Sunday afternoon. One could easily spend a
day in Lincoln, and another in Stamford. After a week in
Lincolnshire, Sheila and I concluded that one could easily spend an
entire week in Lincolnshire and surrounding counties, given all the
fine collections we saw.

Ron Knight and his wife hosted us one evening at their home,
along with some other invited guests. Their hospitality was
heartwarming indeed, and although Mrs. Knight insisted that we were
‘just having tea,’ it surely did remind us of a
full-fledged meal that included numerous and very tasty culinary
delights. Of course we all spent a fair amount of time among
Ron’s extensive collection of steam tractions and tractors.

Eventually though, it was time for us to make our way to Chester
in anticipation of our tour group. Thus, we boarded the train at
Grantham and went across to Crewe, where we had to change trains
for the short journey to Chester. The train journey was interesting
and enjoyable, albeit a bit expensive. After checking in at the
Blossoms Hotel in Chester, Sheila and I were able to spend a day or
so exploring this beautiful city. Then on June 21 we left about 5
a.m. to pick up our entourage at the Manchester airport. This done,
we came back to Chester so everyone could check in and get a tiny
bit of rest before going on a walking tour of the city.

On June 22, we left bright and early for the Tatton Park 1000
Engine Rally. This year they featured the Bam ford engines. The
weather was kind to us, and we spent a full day at this gigantic
show. Our hosts met us at the coach, pointed us to the hospitality
tent, and bade us well as we scattered to all parts of the show
grounds. There were engines of all sorts on exhibit, with the great
majority of them restored and running. Unlike American shows, there
was but a single John Deere 1 engine, plus a scattering of IHC,
Fairbanks-Morse, and a few others. However, there was at least one
Piker engine (built by Stover), and a number of Amanco (Associated)
engines.

Their tractor display was extensive, and included some rather
rare American makes, as well as some rare and unusual British
tractors, including a Saunders. The afternoon auction was well
attended, and while there were a few bargains, most items brought a
good price, at least compared to the American market.

One of the Ayrshire Vintage Engine group owns an Evinrude 1HP
oil engine, identical to that owned by ye olde Reflector. To our
knowledge these are the only two 1 HP Evinrude engines left in this
world, and our engines are only twenty numbers apart. With only a
3-inch bore, these compression ignition engines are quite sensitive
about compression, and due to natural wear, this one was slightly
lacking in that department, so it refused to start (as do most
engines when one wants to show them off).

As our day wound down, our gracious hosts at the hospitality
tent gathered us all together, and presented each of us with a
bronze plaque commemorating our visit. Throughout the day, these
wonderful people provided us with chairs in the shade of their
tent, along with a constant supply of tea, coffee, wine, crackers,
and the like. We all concluded on our way back to Chester, that no
matter where we might travel, there would be few engine shows
comparable to Tatton Park, and it would be difficult indeed to
match the hospitality given us during, before, and since our
visit.

On June 23 we went to northern Wales where we stopped at
Ffestiniog and rode the world-famous Blaenau-Ffestiniog Railway up
toward the slate mines in the area. Toward the end of our journey
we went to their shops and saw various locomotives being repaired,
with one being completely rebuilt. This truly was an interesting
sight!

The Iron bridge Museum at Iron-bridge Gorge occupied most of our
day on June 24. At this site, the first iron rails were made, as
was the famous cast iron bridge whereby the name. At nearby
Blist’s Hill Open Air Museum we spent the remainder of our day
looking at the wonderful working exhibits. Included was a working
wrought iron furnace, complete with huge steam engines and blooming
mills, steam hammers, and the like. Some of our group diverged a
bit by going to nearby Coal port, the home of fine china developed
there.

On June 25 we journeyed toward Liverpool and the Albert Docks
Complex. However, on our way we stopped at the Cheetham Hill
Transport Museum near Manchester. Here we saw dozens of early
coaches, with many of them fully restored. Since public
transportation by coach or by train has always been an integral
part of British transportation, this exhibit is of special
significance to Britons.

At the huge Albert Docks Complex, we spent some time roaming the
shops now in this revitalized area, and later in the day, we
enjoyed a magnificent ferry trip on the River Mersey. The Liverpool
Docks were heavily bombed during World War Two, but were soon
returned to service. For those of us unfamiliar with life in a
seaport it was an especially interesting day.

June 26 was our day to leave Chester and head toward Kilmarnock,
Scotland. Enroute we stopped at an interesting maritime museum
where a great many steam-powered launches were at dock. This museum
also had a substantial number of marine engines on display. We also
stopped at the old Blacksmith Shop near Windermere enroute. That
evening we were greeted by several members of the Ayrshire Vintage
Engine Club.

While in Scotland, it seemed entirely appropriate to spend a few
hours in the city of Edinburgh, so we journeyed there on June 27.
Although there weren’t any engines to see, it was interesting
to take the guided tour of the city later in the day. That evening
we were guests of the Ayrshire Vintage Engine Club. This active
group of engine, tractor, and automobile collectors put on a
mini-show on our behalf at the farm home of John Caldwell. It was
indeed an impressive display of engines and tractors. Upon our
arrival, we were greeted by three little girls who gave each of us
a sprig of heather on a plaid ribbon as a good luck charm. Coming
off the coach we were serenaded by a bagpiper as we made our way to
the rather sizable engine and tractor show. After looking at our
hearts content, it was time for dinner.

The A.V.E.C. spared nothing to make our visit an enjoyable one.
In addition to our group of 46, there were twice that many club
members on hand. As we sat down to a sumptuous buffet banquet, we
were entertained by a three-man musical group. The latter claimed
to be purely amateurs, but they sounded very professional to us,
and later on, we found out that this trio performs annually at
London Hall!

Our banquet was fantastic, and after eating and visiting, all of
our group was treated to special gifts as a remembrance of our
visit. For Sheila and myself, a very special moment was the
presentation of a lifetime membership in the Ayrshire Vintage
Engine and Tractor Club. ‘T was a proud moment indeed!

On June 28 we traveled to the ancient city of York, going by way
of Northumberland. There were various stops along the way, checking
out points of interest. The following day, June 29, we started out
with a visit to the famous railroad museum in York. This fantastic
collection was scheduled for only a few hours, and in retrospect,
we probably should have changed things a bit and spent more time
there. Later in the day, we visited Yorkminster Cathedral, one of
the most beautiful cathedrals in the world.

June 30 was a busy day. On our way to Stratford-Upon-Avon, we
stopped at the Fordson ‘500’ Event at the Newark &.
Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society Showground. The organizers had
hoped for at least 500 vintage Fordsons in order to qualify for the
Guinness Book of Records. However, the final, and official count
was 1,002 Fordsons! These ranged from a 1917 model all the way
through to a 1966 model Ford 3000 tractor. In addition, there were
dozens of modified versions with tracks, and other special
equipment. Numerous other exhibits were also on hand, so this was
indeed a very special event, especially since it appears that the
organizers will attempt to meet or beat this record in the
foreseeable future. For Fordson enthusiasts especially, this was
definitely the show not to miss.

On July 1 we had another busy day as we journeyed to Stoneleigh
and the British Royal Agricultural Exhibition. This huge show was
of modern machinery, but certainly provided a better insight into
British farming methods. The craft exhibits were extensive and very
interesting. In addition, there were over 7,000 head of livestock
in place, and it was a poignant reminder of some sights we
hadn’t seen in many years. Interestingly, the British are just
as keen on preserving some of the vanishing livestock breeds as
they are in preserving old iron.

By July 2, our last day of touring, we went to the historic city
of Bath, and got a mini-tour of the city, along with doing our own
exploring for a few hours. That evening we had a farewell banquet
at our hotel. It was a happy time for having had some time to spend
with old friends for a couple of weeks, and happier yet, for having
met new friends during the tour. For Sheila and myself, the great
surprise was when our group presented us with matching sweaters as
a token of appreciation. This was totally unexpected, and we thank
our group for the gifts! Then on July 3, it was time to go home, so
we left Stratford-Upon-Avon early in the morning for our journey to
London’s Heathrow Airport and the long journey back home.

On behalf of our entire group, we wish to publicly thank all the
folks who hosted us along the way. Your hospitality was greatly
appreciated. A special thanks to John Coventry from Arena Travel,
along with Rob Rushen-Smith who organized the tour. But despite
their work, and ours, the real dynamo of the whole two-week journey
was Jackie Coggan, who has been with us on all of our past tours.
She spent a great many hours of time in organizing our day’s
events, and was the person  who helped make everything happen.
To Jackie, and our driver, George Chenery, our thanks!

By the way, George took us on his new coach, made in Germany,
and equipped with a 380 HP Mercedes-Benz turbocharged and inter
cooled diesel engine. How George managed some of those narrow
roads, narrower streets, and positively tiny driveways with that
big coach, we’ll never understand!

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