Mid Devon Tractor, Engine & Machinery Group
The Mid Devon Tractor, Engine and Machinery Group is a club of around a hundred members with a shared interest in working heritage equipment that meets on the evening of the third Wednesday of the month from September to May. Since January 2020, the venue for meetings moved to the nearby Morchard Bishop Sports and Social Club (Wood Lane Morchard Bishop, EX17 6PE) where the parking is easier. From the War Memorial near the London Inn, take the right hand fork (Wood Lane) and follow to its end; the clubhouse will be found on the right. When COVID restrictions permit, meetings will reconvene there.
As the name of the club probably suggests, many of our members are active, semi-retired or retired farmers or are otherwise involved in the agricultural sector or other rural industries, with the membership drawn from a wide area of Mid Devon (and, in some cases, well beyond). Others just happen to live in this part of Devon and like old tractors or whatever. Although most are owners and are happy showing and/or working them, others neither own nor show, but enjoy coming along to the meetings and events and being with like-minded people.
Typically, the club gathers for the meetings at about 19:15, with the evening proper kicking off at about 19:30 with notices and announcements etc before focusing on a presentation (typically, although not always, illustrated by PowerPoint) from about 19:45. This may last from 45 minutes to an hour, in one part or two, as there is normally a break at around 20:30-20:45 for refreshments and a raffle (the club supports a number of charities from the proceeds of its events). Depending upon the inclination of the presenter, the meeting may continue after the break. Either way, the evening would usually conclude about 21:30. Normally there are around 65-75 members present. The club is a relaxed, informal and sociable group and speakers generally seem to enjoy the experience of addressing an empathetic audience.
In addition to the evening meetings, the club holds more active events throughout the year such as ‘Working Days’ (when members take along their vintage tractors, ploughs, harrows etc to a loaned field and have a good time recreating the past!), ‘Gas Ups’ (which are more focussed on vintage engines and machinery – typically that would have been used on farms for generating electricity, pumping water, powering machinery etc) and ‘Road Runs’, typically featuring a dozen to twenty members on their vintage tractors trundling around the lanes and byways for a couple of hours or so. The club also arranges visits to places of interest, including one or more annual long weekends away visiting e.g. industrial or agricultural/countryside museums. It also holds joint events with similarly-minded clubs or organisations.
Membership costs £12 p.a. per household, which includes a twice-yearly Newsletter and a limited level of insurance. Potential new members are most welcome to come along and dip their toes in the water (at no cost!) to see if they’d like to join the club or just to participate.