View of the exhibition with the exhibits in place.
Cottage Crosshouse, by Kilmarnock Scotland KA2 OBG
A group of Scottish vintage enthusiasts in January 1999 were lamenting about the poor season they had in 1998. Many events had been either canceled or decimated by a summer with record rainfalls.
A suggestion was made that to celebrate the Millennium an indoor exhibition should be organized. Twenty-three vintage clubs from Scotland and northern England got together and formed the Millennium Farm Power Association. An executive committee of ten people were elected to organize what turned out to be the largest exhibition of its kind ever to be held in the United Kingdom.
The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland granted us the use of their exhibition hall which had a total floor space of 6,000 square meters, at a reduced rental. The National Millennium Fund donated $7,500 US to fund the initial costs. The Tractor and Machinery Magazine became a sponsor with advertising and awards for a tractor concours competition. Together with various donations from other sources, this covered our setup costs of over $20,000. It was decided that all the profit would be donated to The Royal Agricultural Scottish Benevolent Institution, a charity which assists country people who have fallen on hard times.
A decision was taken that one tractor of every make and model which had ever worked in Scotland should be invited to attend. One hundred and fifty owners of those machines accepted the invitation to take part, the oldest machine being the 1902 British-built Ivel. Next in line was a 1917 International Mogul. Completing the line was another range of 50 exhibits of threshing machinery, balers and the latest material handlers together with the most modern tractors available. The rest of the floor space was filled with vintage exhibits of all kinds, including an 1897 Murchland milking machine and a 1903 Melvin water engine which operated a church organ in Edinburgh.
The 1902 Ivel owned by John E. Moffitt. Believed to be the oldest tractor in preservation in the UK.
1942 Minneapolis Moline UTS owned by Ian Johnston. Overall winner of the Concours competition. Picture shows it driven by the owner with the threshing machine it powered during and after WWII.
In the balconies, a range of club stands and sales stalls completed the picture. In an outside hall, Clydesdale horses were on display with their carts and other implements. A working blacksmith was a great favorite with the visitors.
The time to lay out the hall was limited. Work began at 8:00 a.m. on Friday morning. Marking out the hall was the first task. Exhibits were arriving from all over Scotland and northern England. Tractors were parked in an outside shed whilst the layout was being prepared. By noon, the early tractors on steels were in position. From then till late on the evening, the hall gradually filled up. Most of the tractors had to be washed on arrival as frosty roads had been salted and owners were keen to keep their treasures corrosion free. Opening time was 12:30 p.m. By noon every exhibit was in position. Only one exhibit was missing, and that was because of a family bereavement. When the doors opened, there was a massive lineup outside the hall awaiting admission.
1917 Fordson F with 1925 Detroit Harvester Co. mid mounted mower, owned by Jim Neil. Note the unique drive from tractor differential.
On the Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday, 10,000 people came through the doors. By Sunday evening, food stalls were sold out, stall holders had a busy time, and exhibitors were delighted with interest shown in their exhibits. One veteran exhibitor said that in 25 years of exhibiting he had never had so much interest shown in his stall.
In the three Concours classes the winners were:
1900-39: 1920 Gray from A. Robertson; 1940-59: 1942 MM UTS from Ian Johnston; 1959-75: 1962 MF 35, from S. Barbour.
All three get travel expenses to travel to compete in the National Championships in England in November 2001.
Ian Johnston's 1942 MM UTS was the winner of the overall trophy.
The result of all the effort put into the event, a sum of over $30,000, will be handed over to the Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution. A commemorative plaque was awarded to every participant. A professionally prepared video is available from Caledonia Vision, 17, Islay Crescent, Paisley, Scotland PA2 8HD, telephone and fax 44(0) 1505 816876.