South Yorkshire ploughman wins international vintage title

The 2016 World Ploughing Contest took place at Crockey Hill, York.  Picture: Simon Hulme
The 2016 World Ploughing Contest took place at Crockey Hill, York. Picture: Simon Hulme
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Yorkshire’s leading ploughmen enjoyed mixed success as the World Ploughing Contest reached its finale on 500 acres of farmland near York.

Held on land owned by Hobson Farming at Crockey Hill, five miles south of the city, the summer sunshine shone on thousands of competitors and spectators from across the globe for four days of top class ploughing which came to a close last Sunday. Both the 66th British National Ploughing Championships and the 63rd World Ploughing Contest featured as part of the event, and so too the first ever World Vintage Ploughing Contest.

It was in the vintage championship that brought Yorkshire its crowning moment as John Milnes, of Penistone near Sheffield, was named as champion of the inaugural showdown.

In the World Ploughing Contest, David Chappell, from Hatfield near Doncaster, put in a strong performance, earning him a fourth placed finish in the conventional section.

The international conventional class was won by Andrew Mitchell of Forfar Scotland and his father, also called Andrew Mitchell, won the reversible section - making it a truly triumphant day for the family from north of the border.

In all, participants from 30 countries took part in the World Ploughing Contest which was taking place in England for the first time in 16 years.

Competitors had racked up the air miles to be there with many having travelled from various European countries and from as far away as the USA, Canada, South Africa, Kenya, Australia and New Zealand.

Before the global showdown took centre stage there was the small matter of domestic glory to be decided.

In the standalone British championships, South Yorkshire’s Mr Chappell came a respectable second in the conventional final plough-off and was ranked only behind Retford’s Don Woodhouse.

Ian Brewer, of Cornwall, won the reversible final plough-off to complete the top events in the British rounds.

Ahead of the four day spectacle, a traditional church service and blessing of the plough at York Minster took place. A line up of international ploughmen first paraded through the streets of York carrying their country’s flag before they were led up the knave of the Minster by ‘Tom’, a shire horse with his owner Jim Elliott, who pulled the plough to the altar.

During the championships, an additional attraction was a ‘Celebration of Steam’ to tell the story of steam engines that were used in agriculture from the 1860s and it featured 30 giant, working ploughing engines.

Sue Frith, chief executive of the Society of Ploughmen, the event’s organisers, declared the contest a massive success

Ms Firth said: “It’s been a lot of hard work to put on this event, but it’s well worth it to see so many smiling faces.

“Some of the contestants and visitors to the World Ploughing Contest have said it’s one of the best they have ever been to and the sun shone for us, so we couldn’t ask for anything more.”

A stone ‘Cairn of Peace’ was unveiled at the competition venue as a permanent reminder of the event. Each stone was contributed by competitors representing each participating nation and each bears their country’s name.