Chris Graham reports on the Mad Jack Fuller Tractor Road Run, that wound its way through East Sussex one sunny Sunday morning in July.
Speaking to the event organiser, Dickie Croft, a few days before the run, he wasn’t terribly optimistic about the likely turnout. With many local tractor owners busy with hay-making, he feared that participants might be a little thin on the ground. So, you can imagine my surprise and delight when, on July 18th, I arrived at the starting field just outside Brightling village, to find 40 assorted, pre-1980s tractors parked and ready. Some were on static display, but most were preparing for the 11am departure.
Incidentally, John Fuller (1757-1834) – known locally as ‘Mad Jack’ – was the squire of Brightling, a politician, a philanthropist and a patron of both the arts and the sciences. But, more widely, he’s known for the unusual follies he liked to build, which are dotted around the Brightling area. Interestingly, he also funded the building of the first lighthouse at Beachy Head and saved Bodiam Castle from being demolished.
So, I’m sure that he would have appreciated the sight of so many enthusiasts and their old tractors negotiating some of the lanes that he must have known so well. It was a route that meandered for 20 miles through the East Sussex countryside, with each junction being marked with a small yellow arrow on a green post. A number of the tractors pulled trailers, loaded with family and friends all enjoying the summer weather, although one I spotted was carrying an old Ferguson tractor as well as a sofa loaded with two passengers!
The run, which cost £5 to enter, was organised to raise funds for Brightling parish church, and Dickie and Caroline Croft deserve much credit for the time and effort they put into the event. Here’s hoping that this new run becomes a regular on the tractor calendar; I’m certainly looking forward to more of the same next year!
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