'The Good Old Days'

Text by Michael Coleman. Photos by Keith Mortimer.

‘Down on The Farm' was an exhibition at the Crediton Museum which ran through the summer of 2017. Many of the exhibits belonged either to the chairman of MDTEMG, Keith White, or to the then secretary, Michael Coleman. They included a 1930s Allis Chalmers B lent by Keith, which had been carefully manoeuvred into the restricted space, together with an mid-19th century Eddy plough handed down through Keith’s family. There were also various other items of local origin and interest owned by the White family, especially from the Sandford area where Keith lives, including a fine display of plaques made by Wrights of Sandford. Complementing these were many farm tools, implements, artefacts and other farming memorabilia from Michael’s collection from the wider rural area.

A series of video clips ran continuously, showing a variety of old agricultural practices, including building a hayrick with horses, a car and a hay pole, pressing apples the ‘cheese’ way, steam ploughing at Ashreigney and a three horse binder.

Visitor numbers for the exhibition were at record levels, reflecting the apparent interest in the way things used to be done in the rural heartland that is Mid Devon. One visitor summed it up by commenting that it was “.... a window into a bygone age”. Unsurprisingly, the exhibition was deemed by the organisers to be a great success.

Centenary of Fordson Tractors

by Andrew Green

2017 marks the Centenary of the beginning of production of the first Fordson tractors. The devastating loss of both men and horses created a real problem for British farming during WW1. It became so severe that the UK government acted to bring in 6000 Fordson tractors in late 1917 from the USA on to British farms to help with the war effort. These were called “MOM” tractors or Ministry of Munitions tractors. The Fordson tractor went into full production on the American market in 1918 priced at $750. Over the next 10 years 750,000 tractors were produced.

Photos by Cynthia Underdown, Stephen Williams & Cyril Chudley
Video by Andrew Green

To celebrate this milestone, we have been involved with organising special events during the past few months. The first of these was at the Devon County Show on the 18th to 20th May where a special display & parade of Ford & Fordson tractors took place in the main ring for the first time for several years. It was great to be back where it truly belongs, rather than tucked away behind the livestock arena! The Fordson display represented about 50% of the total entry of tractors, so other makes were also there. A similar event was held at the Mid Devon Show on the 22nd July and also at the Okehampton Show on the 10th August. Ford and Fordson Association and MDTEMG members were also flying the Fordson flag at other events throughout the summer.

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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.

A photo from the earliest newspaper cutting (November 1982)
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.

The MDTEMG 35th Anniversary cake.
Cutting the anniversary cake

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

Jacket of Mike Thorne's latest book "Massey Ferguson 100 Series in Detail"

In Detail

Our member Mike Thorne’s third book has recently been published, just in time for Christmas! The book is published by Herridge and Sons Ltd and is entitled: “Massey Ferguson One Hundred Series In Detail.”

Signed copies are available direct from Mike at the discounted price of £25.

Changes to the MOT from 2018

(noticed by Peter Rice.)

What are the changes?

Owners of all cars registered after 1960 presently need to put their car through an annual MOT test. From May 2018, cars that are more than 40 years old will no longer need an MOT certificate. This will contine on a rolling basis, meaning the following year it will be cars first registered in 1979, and so on.

Why has the Government done this?

The Government believes that cars 40 or more years old are of historical interest. Because of that it thinks these older cars are well maintained voluntarily, as the vast majority are owned by enthusiasts. It also claims older cars are used irregularly, and only for short journeys.
Changing the exemption in this way also ties in with the current car tax rules. Also, modern garages rely largely on computer diagnosis and frequently aren't set up to test much older cars.

What will be the impact?

At the moment there are 197,000 vehicles on the road that don't need to have a valid MOT certificate. By changing the year when an MOT is needed, a further 293.000 vehicles are expected to be added to the total. At nearly half a million, that is around 1 per cent of the number of cars on the road. However the onus remains on the owner to ensure their vehicle is roadworthy.

Will it mean more unroadworthy vehicles?

There were concerns from road safety campaigners that the number of accidents might significantly increase because there would be more unroadworthy vehicles. However, figures suggests that only 3 per cent of accidents are caused by vehicle defects. Additionally, DoT statistics for 2015 show that 215 people were killed or seriously injured in crashes involving vehicles first registered in 1961-1977, compared to 160,385 involving vehicles built after 1988.