A machine that kept Britain farming

A 1917 Fordson Ministry of Munitions tractor is part of Harrogate Vintage Sale.
A 1917 Fordson Ministry of Munitions tractor is part of Harrogate Vintage Sale.
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One of a small production run of rare vintage tractors that was produced to help Britain’s farmers recover from the loss of horses to the frontline during the First World War is going under the hammer in North Yorkshire.

Next weekend, a 1917 Fordson Ministry of Munitions machine will be among more than 750 classic tractors, vehicles, implements and spares available at the annual Harrogate Vintage Sale.

The British Ministry of Munitions ordered 6,000 Fordsons in 1917 in an attempt to keep food on British tables during the Great War by promoting farm mechanisation and more home food production, according to the authors of The Farm Tractor, Bob Feller and Ralph Sanders.

The model listed for auction in Harrogate currently belongs to vintage tractor enthusiast John Metcalfe of Washfold Farm, Leyburn, who is selling 26 machines in total under The Metcalfe Farms Collection, which also includes a run of tractors from a Ford 1000 to a Ford 9000.

His four-cylinder 1917 Fordson was originally part of the Power Farmer Collection put together by Doug McHardy, the founder of Power Farmer Magazine, in the early 1950s.

John’s eldest son David Metcalfe said: “It’s one of the very first Fordsons ever made and is in A1 condition. Very few were ever made so it’s a rare for one to come up for sale. I expect it will appeal to other collectors.”

Bids will also be invited for a number of pre-1950s tractors assembled under The Ironhorses Collection put together by Richard Sturdy, chairman of the Yorkshire Vintage Association.

The auction will be conducted by Cheffins at the Great Yorkshire Showground on Saturday, August 16.

Bill King, Cheffins’ chairman, said: “The Harrogate vintage machinery auction is always a date in the diary that many look forward to. It’s a great opportunity to see fine vintage tractors, cars and other vehicles – some lovingly restored, others presenting opportunities for exciting restoration projects.

“The Metcalfe Farms Collection offers some very well restored vehicles. The run of Ford 1000 to Ford 9000 has never been available through auction before and is a particularly exciting feature.

“Heading up the Ironhorses Collection are a rare Advance Rumely 6A, a very rare 1929 Rock Island G2 15-25, a stunningly restored 1935 Allis Chalmers EK30-60 ‘Thresherman Special’, a fine 1947 Oliver 90, an immaculate 1939 International 10-20 and a very desirable and original-looking Allis Chalmers Model A.”