Michael was a highly skilled engineer with a lifelong interest in the ploughing engine and associated tackle and a founder member of the SPC.
It is nearly forgotten that such machines were late on the preservation scene being considered to be too big, too heavy and too awkward. But with a younger generation such as Mike’s interest reawakened. After he met Harold Bonnett at the 1960 Patten dispersal sale they started to talk about starting a club to encourage matters. So the SPC was formed in 1966 with Harold as chairman and Mike taking the job as the secretary as member No 2.
He quickly realised his ambition to own ploughing engines, preferably AAs. At the age of 18 he had acquired a pair from Lugg’s yard at Billingshurst, AA7s 15563/4, Wayfarer and Wanderer, the cost being £400 on hire purchase to include a living van. Payments being kept up Wayfarer and the van were first driven from Sussex to Mike’s home in Brookman’s Park taking three or four days.
Mike made contact with Harper Roads and his son Charles to buy a plough that was then towed down the A1 by Richard Nixon’s Sentinel waggon from Sleaford to a new base at Wymondley, 87 miles; not something to be attempted in today’s traffic! This led to a lifelong friendship with Charles. By then Wayfarer was appearing at local rallies and restoration continued on Wanderer.
After the tragic death of Harper Roads, young Charles was left with 20 engines and tackle that had to be moved from Sleaford to his yard at Orwell something that Mike willingly helped with. After several hair-raising adventures this was achieved. Soon after Mike and his mother moved to Old North Road and that made working on the engines at Orwell so much easier.
By the 1990s Mike felt that he wanted something bigger so he acquired a Fowler Z7S; one snag being that it was in the Czech Republic! Duly collected, a problem occurred at the German border when they were asked by customs officials whether the engine was worth as much as £1000 in England? With £117 duty paid they were on their way again. Later a Z7 was bought from Belgium mainly for spares.
Mike’s family connections had come from Surrey and his grandfather was said to be an apprentice appointed by no less than W O Bentley. In the late 1960s Mike had an inheritance that meant that he could leave full time work to concentrate on the things that really interested him. His father Lawrence had worked at De Havilland’s making Mosquitos in the war and his mother May lived to a great age looked after to the end by Mike at Old North Road. After her passing Mike was able to meet Maize McFarlane and they were married in 1995.
Mike’s interests included armoury, military vehicles, and photography and he once owned a full-size railway engine. His encyclopaedic knowledge of steam cultivation and particularly Fowlers must have come from his long association with Charles and his frequent visits to the Museum of English Rural Life at Reading that holds all the surviving Fowler records. Most fortunately Mike was able to share this knowledge with club members and has left behind some comprehensive writings for them.
Mike served on the Steam Plough Club Committee for many years and became its president in 2007. This hardly describes his help to so many club members so readily given. He took a plough belonging to Michael Davies and rebuilt it to become the implement to beat at many SPC Great Challenges. He was accorded prizes for field work that were very richly deserved.
The quality of Mike’s work, whether at the lathe or in the field could not be bettered. We will always remember this kindly face and gentle smile and always an answer to help anyone in need of help and advice. His knowledge was phenomenal. And how many times will we be asking “Mike would have known the answer to that!”?
Michael Goodman died on 7 March aged 78 after a long illness.
With thanks to Richard Nixon and others who have helped with this compilation.