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2016 The Year of the Steam Plough

“The Wilder”, in the display tent at Dorset, owned by James Hodgson
“The Wilder”, in the display tent at Dorset, owned by James Hodgson
Fowler K7 14256 owned by the Farwells, faces Fowler BB 12413 under restoration
Fowler K7 14256 owned by the Farwells, faces Fowler BB 12413 under restoration
Celebration Lunch
Celebration Lunch
Another view of 14213 showing extensive boiler repairs
Another view of 14213 showing extensive boiler repairs
Paul Ransley’s immense rebuild of Fowler 1908 of 1873
Paul Ransley’s immense rebuild of Fowler 1908 of 1873

Celebrations at the Great Dorset Steam Fair and at the World Ploughing Championship, Crockey Hill, York and Celebration Lunch

A fabulous 50th

The Steam Plough Club has celebrated its fiftieth Anniversary at two notable events at the Great Dorset Steam Fair on 25 – 29 August and during the World Ploughing Championships held at Crockey Hill, York on 8 – 11 September.

The club created two quite different displays.  The first, in Dorset, mounted a wonderful exhibition explaining the history of steam cultivation from the earliest times.  The National Traction Engine Trust marquee was largely given over to full size engines, some being under construction or repair. There were also models and a most comprehensive series of information placards by Melanie Fisher setting out the story of steam cultivation.  And outside was assembled something rarely seen these days, a full size road train consisting of engine, living van plough and watercart, assembled by Alan Sparkes.

By contrast, the Crockey Hill event really showed what members could do with a truly marvellous collection of engines and implements.  It wasn’t all steam either with Fowler motor ploughs and the surviving great Fowler Gyrotiller in evidence.  There was plenty of land available for ploughing and cultivating, and a chance for visitors to try their hand at driving an engine or steer an implement. Harry Williams had his award winning model clip drum engine and apparatus on show. And almost unbelievably there was the hugely significant Smith windlass system released from the Milton Keynes Museum.

I can well believe that this was one of the greatest collections of historical cable cultivation artefacts displayed in history, and most unlikely to be repeated in the near or even distant future.

It is invidious to give credits but I must include Simon and Melanie Fisher for the Dorset exhibition and for Dick Eastwood taking the brunt of the organisation at Crockey Hill.  But above all it was the club and its members that must be congratulated for marking the anniversary in such an unforgettable way.

As my all too short visits ended I could not but think of our old club founder Harold Bonnett and what he might have thought of it all.  He would have been delighted and thrilled, but knowing Harold, not speechless!  

John Billard

Fowler singles 2861 and 3195 owned by Peter Stanier and Richard Pierce
Fowler singles 2861 and 3195 owned by Peter Stanier and Richard Pierce
Dorset organisers Simon and Melanie Fisher with Roger Luck and their Fowler A4 9691
Dorset organisers Simon and Melanie Fisher with Roger Luck and their Fowler A4 9691
Fowler Tractor 14805 with a Fowler 4 wheel water cart on duty
Fowler Tractor 14805 with a Fowler 4 wheel water cart on duty
Fowler single cylinder K5 11082 owned by Robert Goodwill
Fowler single cylinder K5 11082 owned by Robert Goodwill
Part of the extensive pattern making by Paul Ransley for his Fowler rebuild
Part of the extensive pattern making by Paul Ransley for his Fowler rebuild
14213 again
14213 again
Engines at York used some of the very last coal from the recently closed Kellingley Colliery, the last deep mine in England
Engines at York used some of the very last coal from the recently closed Kellingley Colliery, the last deep mine in England
Fowler motor ploughing engine of 1929 on loan from Leeds Museums and Galleries
Fowler motor ploughing engine of 1929 on loan from Leeds Museums and Galleries
Models and engines and “read all about it” in the Dorset marquee
Models and engines and “read all about it” in the Dorset marquee
Unusual Fowler Fowler B4 11637 owned by Warner Bower
Unusual Fowler Fowler B4 11637 owned by Warner Bower
Fowler DD “My Delight” owned by Chris Griffiths partly hidden by the K5
Fowler DD “My Delight” owned by Chris Griffiths partly hidden by the K5
The Fowler road train assembled by Alan Sparkes led by Fowler BB1 15222
The Fowler road train assembled by Alan Sparkes led by Fowler BB1 15222
Fowler’s great 170 hp Gyrotiller owned by the Ward Bros
Fowler’s great 170 hp Gyrotiller owned by the Ward Bros
Unique Foden Agritractor 13630 of 1930 owned by John Sawle
Unique Foden Agritractor 13630 of 1930 owned by John Sawle