Keeping ploughing engines, implements and skills alive
Esmond’s achievements were many but they were also accompanied by disappointment. His Ashford Steam Centre, which housed many engines in the national collection, closed in 1976 following a dispute with the British Railways Board. The Board then arranged a sale of his property over Esmond’s head but, nothing daunted, he craned out his engine and carriages on the eve of the sale which caused its cancellation. He was irrepressible. But his collection was then broken up; some of it literally.
With his brother, Esmond owned K7 ploughing engines 13830 and 13831 from about 1965 through to about 1984 and named them ‘ERMINTRUDE and ESMERELDA’. In the 1960s Esmond bought another K7 ‘LORD KITCHENER’ No 14255 possibly for spares. He also had an interest in a 5-furrow shallow AB plough number 11056.
He was born on December 30th 1928 and went to Dartford Grammar School. As a young man his sport was rowing locally near Welling; and at Henley. He kept up this interest throughout his life and attended Henley Regatta regularly, the last occasion being only weeks before his death when we had the pleasure of joining him. He was in good form and we much enjoyed the day together.
Esmond is survived by two brothers and a sister. Another brother, Stuart, was a Formula 1 racing driver tragically died of his injuries after the Moroccan Grand Prix in 1958 while racing a Vanwall with Moss and Brooks.
Esmond’s funeral took place on 9 October. It was very well attended and reflected his many interests. The club was represented by Mike Goodman, Richard Pierce, Simon Fisher, Bob Jameson, Clive Flack and John and Sheila Billard.
John Billard 10 October 2017
ESMOND LAWRENCE LEWIS EVANS
Sadly, I report the loss of our dear friend Esmond Lewis Evans who died following a stroke on 5th August. He was club president from 1977-1982, having served as chairman since 1969, being one of our earliest active members. Later, when the club decided to create this honorary post, he became one of our earliest vice presidents.
Esmond had wide interests but for his time became one of the country’s most important preservationists. His collection not only included ploughing engines and tackle but also railway items. This included his engine that he had saved in the nick of time with scrapping having already commenced. Today this can be seen on the Bluebell Railway as old South Eastern rebuilt O1 class No 65. Pullman cars were a favourite and Esmond had four, Lucille and Phyllis now running in special trains on the network, Orion, and Sapphire a 1910 wooden body version. Other carriages included a unique surviving Southern 1949 3-car double decker train.
In the 1950s Esmond went to Southern Rhodesia now Zimbabwe. His return in 1964 was overland in an Austin Gypsy and he arrived home with a buffalo skull attached to the roof.
Fowler Archive rescue
The Museum of English Rural Life has announced plans to apply for partial funding to restore its collection of Fowler records which cover a lengthy period of the production at the Steam Plough Works. These records are an invaluable resource covering in detail engine production and much other information. The photograph shows one particular volume the binding of which has almost disintegrated. There are 37 volumes plus a large number of photographic records.
The Steam Plough Club supports fully this application and proposes to make a donation. It will keep members informed of progress regarding this essential work.
Update May 2018
We are pleased to report that the application was successful. Should members wish to make an individual donation to this important project please contact The Secretary.
GREAT CHALLENGE – Saturday 13th & Sunday 14th October 2018
A Great Challenge steam ploughing match is to be held over the weekend 13th and 14th October. The venue is Austrey, near Atherstone, Warwickshire, CV9 3ED, by kind permission of William Corbett Farms Ltd. The Society of Ploughmen has kindly invited the Club to join with them and the Challenge will be taking place alongside the 2018 British National Ploughing Championships & Country Festival. The opportunity to open the event to the public rather than members only is something the Club can do by partnering with the Society who are already familiar with the infrastructure and supporting facilities required.
The last Challenge – the seventh in the Club’s history - was held in September 2013 at Avon Dassett when ten sets of engines competed for the trophies. With a number of engines having changed ownership over the past few years there will no doubt be new entrants keen to demonstrate their capabilities. Expressions of interest are presently being sought from potential competitors and a good number of owners have already confirmed.
We can also be assured of numerous spectators following the interest and support shown at the 50th Anniversary celebrations at Crockey Hill in 2016.
Put these dates in your diary and give your support and/or offer of help. (Contact is Dick Eastwood)
HANDS ON WEEKEND - 1 & 2 September 2018
Applications are invited for this years event to be held as before, in Rutland
The cost for a whole weekend is £175 which will include lunch on both days.
SPC members only
Please contact John Billard email or 0118 934 0381
Places are filling up fast, so please contact John as soon as possible to reserve a place
SIR WILLIAM McALPINE 6th BARONET
SPC member No 36.
We are very sorry to hear of the death on 4 March of Sir William (Bill) McAlpine. He joined the Steam Plough Club in 1967 almost as a founder member and remained with the club for 26 years when he sold his road steam collection. This included McLaren 12 hp ploughing engine 1541 and a pair of BB1 engines. He also looked after the John Allen engine No 67 for many years.
We were privileged on several occasions to visit his steam collection at his home in Fawley where the club was made very welcome. Widely recognised for rescuing the Flying Scotsman from the USA in 1972 his interests were wide and we were privileged to have him within the Steam Plough Club.
6 March 2018
John Allen 12hp No 67, in the care of Bill McAlpine, is demonstrated at Fawley during a 1970s club visit. Photo John Billard
1936 - 2018
We are very sorry to report the death on 6th March at 81 of Robert Oliver after a long illness. He was member No 171 and secretary 1974 to 1976, chairman from 1977 to 2006 and editor from 1988 to 2006. On his 25th anniversary in in the post of chairman in 1993 Robert was accorded the title of life chairman which now lapses.
Robert became chairman at a crucial time for the club which at the time found itself in the doldrums in the years after its inception in 1966. With a new secretary joining him a while later they worked together to invigorate the membership which then rose rapidly. Successes under his leadership included a new Steam Plough Times under the editorship of Bill Padwick, the inauguration of events such as the Great Challenge and Hands On training and turning the annual general meeting into a major social event where on occasion it seemed that almost half the membership attended. Our web site was instituted. A most fruitful relationship was built with the Museum of English Rural Life, at the University of Reading, which continues.
Robert had an interest in the historical aspects of the club and spent many years collating engine records from primary sources such as the records at Reading; a work that he painstakingly assembled over 6-8 years. This became a very early application of computerised records for the club. More recently he encouraged further research as he worked on the records with Dick Eastwood to produce the very successful club publications on this subject.
Regrettably much of his activity was dogged by ill health caused by congenital kidney disease which has affected many members of his family. He had a successful kidney transplant in 1998 which improved his life greatly. In 2004 with his wife Helen he left Croydon after many years and set up in Leominster where he became active in local affairs including chairing the Civic Society. He did much for the things he cared about.
We send our condolences to his family particularly to Helen, his son Michael and his wife Jill, and sister Elizabeth. Without Robert’s influence the club would not be what it is today. We will miss him.
14 March 2018