Last month we bought a new (old) member of the family back to the farm in the shape of our 1953 Fordson Major Tractor. As a special feature, I thought I’d ask my father Richard to write this month’s blog and share his memories of the great machine when he was growing up on the farm…
Many of you will have seen our vintage tractor which now sits in pride of place at the farm shop. It was made in 1953 by the Ford Motor Company in Dagenham Essex and sold under the Fordson brand – the manufacturer being the son of the great American motor car designer Henry Ford. It’s a very nostalgic site for me as its identical to the very first tractor I drove as a very young lad on the farm. I remember being given the task to drive it in a straight line across the field while the farm hands loaded the following trailer with hay or potatoes etc. It was the first in a generation of tractors which had refinements like pneumatic tyres and hydraulic pumps. My fathers’ early memories were of horses working the fields and the very early tractors were very basic machines, but the Fordson Major was a reliable, multifunctional and manoeuvrable machine which allowed the farmers to become far more productive. Its worth remembering that when our Fordson was made Europe was still in the grips of post-war food rationing, but within a generation, these machines had played their part in ensuring a plentiful and affordable supply of home-grown quality food. Of course, my first job as the tractor driver all those years ago is no longer needed as with today’s machines are navigated by their GPS systems and robots now milk the cows.
I often wonder what new technology the next farming generation will remember with the same celebrity status as the Fordson Major. Tom and his generation have the challenges of keeping the food on the table, whilst taking good care of the environment and adapting to the challenges of climate and political change. They will need the game-changing technology previous generations befitted from of which our new farm attraction is a classic example.