Steam Plough Club ‘Hands On Weekend’ 4th – 5th September 2021 & ‘Mole Ploughing’ 11th September 2021
On Tuesday the 31st of August, a post went up on the Steam Apprentice Club Facebook, offering a SAC Member over the age of 15 a place in the Steam plough Club ‘Hands On Weekend.’ I entered and was surprised when I was chosen. We arrived at Joe Nourish’s Farm on the Friday at 11:00 am as we were told there would be plenty to do, we met Archie and andrew. They said to speak to Joe Nourish, he would say what we could do. I was allowed to unsheet and clean Joe’s Fowler BB1 15182 ‘Achilles’, later we were asked to light it up and then take it to the field ready for the weekends ploughing, while we were getting steam Howard Boltons BB1 15337 turned up. After we had taken Achilles around to the field, Kev Mills brought Brain Knights pair of BB1’s 15451 ‘Victory’ and 15452 ‘Dreadnought’ around to the field. Later Peter Wilson’s Fowler BB1 15183 ‘Ajax’ and Hal and Guy Debes single 2528 ‘The Chief’ appeared and went into the field. The Implements were a 6 furrow plough, 4 furrow plough and a cultivator. There were 12 participants including another SAC member, Cameron.
I woke up bright and early ready to go and light up the engine I had been told I could the night before, Achilles was the first in steam ready to get set up for cultivating. 9:00 am was the safety briefing, then we were put into 3 groups. Group 1 went with ‘The Chief’ and Howard Boltons BB1 15337 with the 6 furrow plough, Group 2 with Brian Knights pair of BB1’s ‘Victory’ and ‘Dreadnought’ on the 4 furrow plough and Group 3 with Peter Wilson’s BB1 ‘Ajax’ and Joe Nourish’s BB1 ‘Achilles’ on the cultivator. I was in Group 2 with ‘Victory’ and ‘Dreadnought.’ Kev showed us around the oiling points on a ploughing engine and on the ploughing gear. We then took them over to where the 4 furrow plough was. We used ‘Dreadnought’ to take the wire rope over to the other side of the field and then we winched it back to us at ‘Victory.’ We attached the wire ropes to the plough and got ploughing, Kev showing us what I had to do. After about an hour on ‘Victory’, I went and had a go on the Plough, it was good fun but was difficult with the steering going the opposite way to what you think it should on one of the pull’s. We then had a 1 hour lunch break and a group photo in front of one of the engines, we then got back to ploughing where I stayed with ‘Victory’ until it was time to pack away.
I was up early as I was asked if I would like to help light up ‘Victory.’ So we got there for 7:30, Unsheeted ‘Victory’ and ‘Dreadnought’, swept the tubes of ‘Victory’ and emptied the ash pan. Then I lit the fire and started polishing. When most of the engines were in steam, we were told where we would be going. I was able to stay with ‘Victory’ for the morning. After Lunch, I was told by Joe Nourish to go and have a go on Hal and Guy Debes 14NHP Single ‘The Chief’ on the 6 furrow plough, Then I went to ‘Achilles’ to have a turn at pulling the Cultivator, Which was good as Andrew, one of the instructors, said I had the Cultivator going at the right speed for cultivating. Then I wandered back to ‘Victory’ and steered it back to the top of the field with Cameron driving. Then I was lucky enough to be asked by Kev Mills if I would like to drive ‘Victory’ down into the farmyard and down the steep track and into the shed.
Many thanks to the organising team at the Steam Plough Club and all the input from the Instructors and Engine Owner’s and all the kind words from experienced plough men who I had never met before.
The Next weekend I was lucky enough to be invited back to the Farm to do some Mole Ploughing with Kev, Victory and Dreadnought. We arrived at 8:00 and was asked to light ‘Dreadnought’ with Fraser Cruickshank. Then we took the engines to the field, set ‘Dreadnought’ up, set the Mole Plough up and tried to understand how it worked. They Set ‘Victory’ up halfway across the field for a couple of practice pulls. We then put ‘Victory’ on the far side of the field and did the full field. I stayed with ‘Dreadnought’ for most of the day pulling the Mole Plough back across the field while ‘Victory’ did the hard work pulling the plough through the ground. I then swapped engines and had a go pulling the plough through the ground. It was hard work for ‘Victory.’
Many Thanks to the Steam Plough Club and the SAC for this chance of a lifetime at the age of 15 and a Special thanks to Kev Mills who invited me back the following weekend to do some mole ploughing.
I was pleased to read in The Steam Plough Times that the club is looking into doing a ‘Hands On Weekend’ for the younger generation, as youngsters like Cameron and I, are the future of steam ploughing.
Jack Potter, Steam Plough Club Member