Text by Michael Coleman. Photos by Keith Mortimer.
by Andrew Green
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.
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 oldest and the youngest founder members (Colin Rowe and Chris Goodman) cutting the cake!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.