The 20th year of the Newark Vintage Tractor and Heritage Show is on course to attract the most diverse range of machines in its history – thanks to some special anniversary classes and a display reviving some of the first-ever exhibits.
Looking forward to the event is local farm contractor and vintage tractor collector Paul Ducksbury, who has been involved in the show since the start, living just 14 miles north of Newark showground.
Back when the inaugural event was being planned in 2003, the Nottinghamshire division of the National Vintage Tractor and Engine Club – with which Paul and his family had been involved for many years – pledged to provide both stewards and entries.
“Little did we know what a success the show would become; it went from strength to strength,” he says. “The George Stephenson Hall was added to the facilities in 2006; then tractors from other shows were nominated in a ‘People’s Choice’ class, creating a really diverse range of exhibits.
“Now, two decades later, the event is seen as the pinnacle of the year – the highlight at the end of the season.”
For Paul, one of the most memorable classes in the event’s history was ‘100 years of Fordson’ in 2017, to which he took 34 tractors.
“The first Fordson was built in the US in 1917, and manufacture this side of the Atlantic started just two years later in 1919 in Ireland, before moving to Dagenham in 1923. Having the whole range on display in 2017 was quite a sight,” he says.
Another favourite exhibit was a unique adaption of a Minneapolis-Moline tractor which he saw on display in 2004.
“It wasn’t the original tractor, but two tractors joined together by the owner John Hayward of Bilsthorpe near Newark, to give it four-wheel drive and 100hp. The Minneapolis-Molines were only manufactured for a short time in the UK between 1946 and 1949, so it was an unforgettable sight.”
In terms of this year’s 20th anniversary, Paul’s looking forward to bringing back entries his family have had from previous years for the special themed categories.
One will be a Field Marshall Series 1, bought by his father-in-law in 1946 and driven home 20 miles from Gainsborough where it was manufactured. This is now owned by Paul’s son and is entered into the ‘Marshall Sons & Co 175th anniversary’ class, where it will be joined by several other Marshalls of different ages in Paul’s collection, including a 123-year-old steam roller in full working order.
While Paul lives close to the show, it also attracts regular competitors from further afield. On such example is the Reid family, who run a hydraulic engineering business in Arbroath, some 350 miles from the site – yet they are keen enthusiasts who have made the journey to Newark every year since the show started.
Fraser Reid says the show is one the biggest events of its kind – and it’s often the first the family’s restorations are exhibited at. In 2021 he won ‘best tractor entered by a person under the age of 25’ with a 1969 Ford 5000 4WD. Last year, he teamed up with his father Neil and brother Lindsay to win ‘best Leyland’ with a 1972 Leyland 253, and the ‘Concours D’Elegance’ with a 1962 Nuffield 4/60.
However, the family’s success isn’t just a recent phenomenon. Fraser was too young to attend the first show in 2003, but his father took a 1970 David Brown 880 Selectamatic and won ‘best David Brown’ and the ‘Concours 1965-78 Classic’.
The tractor has returned many times over the years, winning the ‘Heritage Machinery Shield’ in 2007 and ‘best David Brown’ again in 2011 – and it’s making a triumphant return this year to feature in the 20th anniversary display.
“As well as the DB880, this year we’re bringing our 1985 David Brown 1294, and a 1986 Valmet 705 to enter in the European class,” says Fraser. “The Valmet had its first show last year and lots of people liked it. It’s among the newer styles of tractor often referred to as ‘modern classics’, like the 94 series David Browns.”
Another show stalwart contributing to the anniversary this year is James Hardstaff, a farmer from just north of Nottingham. “I’m a keen supporter of the event,” he says. “It crowns the season – you get to see the best of the best there.”
He, too, is bringing a tractor that featured in the very first show. “It was a prize-winner then – a 1954 Fordson Major County Four Drive. I originally bought it from a scrap yard just south of the Dartford Tunnel back in 1998, and had to fetch it home on two Ifor Williams trailers – one carrying the wheels and tinwork, and one for the engine and transmission!
“It was one of the first four-wheel drive tractors to be made, operated by skid-steer. It took me four years to restore, then I showed it during the 2003 season, ending up at the first vintage tractor show at Newark. Now I’m pleased to be bringing it back this year for the 20th anniversary display.”
For a limited time only, discounted tickets are available for the Newark Vintage Tractor and Heritage Show, on November 4-5 at Newark Showground. Buy tickets here: https://newarkvintagetractorshow.ticketsrv.co.uk/tickets/, or for more information about the show, visit: www.newarkvintagetractorshow.com.