The Beginnings of the Group

Text by Michael Coleman; photos by Peter Rice.

On Tuesday 12 October 1982, a group of 43 enthusiasts held a public meeting in Chulmleigh Town Hall and agreed to form the Mid Devon Tractor, Engine and Machinery Group. It was recorded that “The objects of the Group shall be to stimulate interest in all types of old vehicles and machinery”. The founder members were tractor and engine enthusiasts, many of whom had previously belonged to the Devon Traction Engine Group, which it was felt catered more for those interested in steam and old cars, leading to the formation of the new club.

An early photo of MDTEMG group on a rainy day
An early group photograph from the first newspaper article in the Crediton Country Courier, November 9th, 1982

The subscription was set at £6 per family, £4 per individual and £1 for juniors.

Shortly afterwards, on 7 November 1982, an outdoor get-together was held which the then ‘Crediton Country Courier’ recorded as being on ‘…a pouring wet afternoon‘, but noted the enthusiasm of those present with ‘…just a tiny few of the many machines owned by members, some restored, others in various stages of restoration‘.

The Group quickly got into its stride and began to hold meetings, working events, road runs, club trips etc and to engage in fundraising for charity, all of which continue to this day.

After some time, MDTEMG moved its base to Morchard Bishop Memorial Hall, where our meetings are now held on the third Wednesday of the month from September to May. We also have a busy programme of events throughout the year, although less so in the summer months when many members are otherwise heavily engaged in agricultural activities or are on holiday.

For many years, the Group organised and ran the very popular Downes Rally, initially jointly with the-then Crediton Round Table until it withdrew (and thereafter alone) before a sequence of very wet events led to the Group deciding not to continue with the rally any longer.

These rallies and other club activities have, over the years, raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity, especially for the Devon Air Ambulance Trust (DAAT) which MDTEMG is proud to have been supporting for more than the 25 years of flying operations that DAAT is itself celebrating in 2017.

In addition to DAAT, which we usually have as our principal beneficiary, members decide annually at the AGM to which other charities donations will be given.

A number of founder members are still active in the club and, pleasingly, were on hand to help celebrate the MDTEMG’s 35th birthday at the meeting on 18 October 2017 which was the closest to the actual anniversary.

Cake celebrating 35th anniversary of MDTEMG

The oldest and the youngest founder members (Colin Rowe and Chris Goodman) cutting the cake!

Cutting the 35th Anniversary cake
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