I am self confessed (and proud) southern, townie. Despite this you only have to scratch the surface of my family tree to discover a rich, North Yorkshire farming heritage. This weekend my family gathered at the farm first bought by my great-grandfather after the First World War. This property has been passed down through the generations and is currently run by two of his grandsons who put on a fabulous day our for us all.
The farm holds a near mythical status in my heart as I have been regaled over the years with tales from both my grandmother and mother who spent happy childhoods playing in the buildings and the surrounding fields. The day started at lunch and we browsed many of the old album photos over our meal.
After lunch the weather cleared and we were treated to a working demonstration of a threshing machine, a predecessor to the modern combine harvester, which separated the wheat from the chaff. The machine itself is a replica, however, the tractor powering it is ‘Old Lady’ the first tractor owned on the farm. This is the first time I’ve seen her in the flesh, although I vividly remember my Gran proudly telling me about its purchase second hand from King George on the Sandringham Estate. As an added treat my 87 year old great uncle was present who, as a younger relation, could recount threshing and his role minding the tractor.
Although a big step forward for the agricultural industry the job was still labour intensive. Long pitchforks were used to feed the machine at the top where a ‘bander’ stood and then 16 stone sacks of grain were filled from the thresher at the bottom right (unseen on this shot). These were then hoisted with a sack barrow to a height where they could be carried up the steps to the grain store.
We were then taken to the nearest field where a collection of contemporary machines were present.
Throughout the day the agricultural equipment was interspersed with ‘toys’ often in various stages of the restoration process (although there wasn’t necessarily a clear distinction between these two categories, especially with the older ones). This was one of two original shape minis that I spotted during the day.
As I admired this I heard a different sound as was excited to see another old tractor, this time a little red Massey Ferguson been driven into the field. the driver nimbly parked it next to one of his modern models. The juxtaposition was stark. I.m old enough to now have the context to understand that within a couple of generations we have moved from horses, to machines like those on the right to the contemporary behemouths.
After this we toured the buildings, old and new, and found a treasure trove of tractors, cars, vans and farming implements. The highlight was this, at one side of a workshop full of classic tractors. My mother described it as ‘similar to her father’s one’ she was thrilled to discover that it was in fact the same one. This was the vehicle that she learnt to drive on which was my grandfather’s first tractor on his nearby farm.
I feel incredibly privileged that all this was laid on for us and hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my pictures a fraction as much as I enjoyed my day. I’ll finish with a few other pictures from the day.