Michael Fisher reports from Northumberland, on his experiences at this year’s British National Ploughing Championships.
Photographs: Paul Gregory and Michael Fisher
The 2021 British National Ploughing Championships took place over the weekend of October 9th-10th, in the stunning Northumberland countryside at Mindrum Mill.
I was competing on Sunday in the Classic Reversible Class with a Ransomes TS81 coupled to my Ford 2600 tractor. My good friend, Darren Easter, was also taking part that day, with his Ford 3000 and Ransomes TS86 combination, in the Ford & Fordson Association Class. Darren and his brother, Tim – both from South Yorkshire – are very well known on the match ploughing circuit.
Darren, Tim and I are all members of the Barugh & District Ploughing Association (pronounced locally as ‘bark’!), and have been ever since we were first recruited in 2000. Our chairman is multiple world, European and British ploughing champion, John Hill, who Darren cites as his ploughing hero.
I competed in my first ploughing match in 1998; it was at Barugh & District’s annual event held at Woolley, near Wakefield. Darren’s first match was at a Pennine Tractor Club working weekend, held near Ackworth, for which he used a Ransomes MG6 crawler and TS42 plough.
Saturday at this year’s Nationals ended up being wet, and several of the plots were unfortunately troubled with stones that caused a fair amount of problems for the ploughmen. However, on Sunday the weather was lovely, with glorious sunshine floodlighting Northumberland’s wonderfully mountainous landscape to great effect. This was also the day that Darren and I were competing.
All the tractors and ploughs were parked at their allotted numbers in the marshalling yard, ready for the parade to the plots before ploughing was due to start at 10am. Once at the plots, any surplus straw was cleared, poles were erected and final adjustments to the ploughs were made.
A tough challenge
As I began my first run, it quickly became clear that I’d got a challenging plot; I could hear the plough protesting as it battled with the stony ground. It wasn’t the best start I’ve ever made, and the plot didn’t get any better; I eventually ended up with a cracked disc bracket and also pulled the rear frog slightly out of shape, due to the stones. That, in turn, caused my ploughing to be uneven and, sadly, I only finished 5th in the Classic Reversible Class.
Darren, on the other hand, coped a lot better in the Ford & Fordson Association class. Everything fell into place for him; no stones but still a challenging plot, a decent start, nice middle work and a good finish. So much so that I’m pleased to report that he came 1st in the class! All the committee at Barugh & District are certainly very proud of his achievements and, in all the years he’s been ploughing, he feels that this represents his best win. So, it’s a hearty ‘Well done, Darren’, from us all!
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