Fordson N enthusiast Alastair Broadwith hopes thrill of machinery that 'won the war' resonates at Tractor Fest

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Simple machines famed for the key role they played in food production during the lean years of the Second World War will be the star of the show when the UK’s largest outdoor vintage tractor festival returns in June.

Tractor Fest at Newby Hall near Ripon will commemorate the outbreak of the conflict with a display of vintage tractors from the era and among the exhibits will be two 1940s standard Fordson N tractors that have being recommissioned by local engineer and vintage enthusiast Alastair Broadwith.

Alastair Broadwith of Rookwith with his Fordson N 1940 and 1942 vintage tractors. Picture by Gary Longbottom.

Alastair Broadwith of Rookwith with his Fordson N 1940 and 1942 vintage tractors. Picture by Gary Longbottom.

The Fordson N was mass produced in Britain for deployment by the Women’s Land Army during the war in order to stave off food shortages and Mr Broadwith’s imagination was taken with the tractor as a boy, when he was regaled with stories told by his grandfather’s farm worker Derek Carling in the farm byre at break times.

Such was his fascination with Fordsons, that by the age of 18, Mr Broadwith was the proud owner of his first standard 1940 Fordson N, which he bought for about £400 from a fellow enthusiast at Barnard Castle - a princely sum as at the time he earned £25 a week as an apprentice at Ripon Farm Services.

Mr Broadwith, now 47, said: “Tractors have been my passion. It’s the engineering aspect that’s always fascinated me, how things are put together and the thing that struck me about the Fordson was the simplicity of them - how easy it is to take them apart and reassemble.

“They were so simply put together because of the amount of tractors that were pushed out of the Fordson factory in Dagenham during the war.

“They were a blessing for agriculture at the time. Without agriculture functioning as it did, the country would have starved.”

Mr Broadwith will be taking his Fordsons along to Tractor Fest and said he hopes visitors share in his admiration.

Tractor Fest returns to Newby Hall on the weekend of June 8 and June 9.