Amazing Richard Vernon dispersal sale previewed
Posted by Chris Graham on 23rd May 2023
We preview the Richard Vernon dispersal sale, being organised by Cheffins and taking place on Saturday, June 3rd.
It was sad news when agricultural preservationist Richard Vernon (80) from Hall Farm, Cotesbach, Lutterworth, died on December 17th, 2021. Old Glory was recently invited by the Vernon family to look over the lots in the forthcoming Cheffins disposal sale of much of the collection, which will take place on Saturday, June 3rd.
Richard was just 19 when he came to Hall Farm with his wife, Hazel; what a challenge for them to take on a 350-acre mixed farm in 1960, having come from Market Drayton, Shropshire.
He brought with him his ‘beloved’ Fordson E1A Major which, amazingly, is still used on the farm today. In fact, Fordsons, Fords and New Hollands are very much part of the farm today, with a mint Ford 4600 with Q-cab regularly used, as is the larger and later 8210. In those days, Autocar of Rugby was the main supplier of such things in this area. Seen moving the collection about in February was a ‘blue’ New Holland T6.175 with the Union Jack emblazoned on the roof.
Richard was a very shy and unassuming man who everyone had great respect for; he had a burning passion and enthusiasm for agricultural machinery preservation. It was some 30 years ago that we were here for the Cheffins sale which saw Richard re-jig his collection. At that time he sold the unique surviving 1909 Fowler B4 No. 11637 ploughing engine, which the late John Easterbook was looking after on the day. His pair of green BB1s Nos. 15334/5 Lady Caroline and Lady Jayne went to Bill Kimball, who still has them today, in Suffolk.
In the shed was Andrew Fisher’s pair of 1918 BB1 engines Nos. 15170 Princes Caroline and 15171 Princes Jayne, which were local Leicestershire working engines that were restored from very poor condition by Andrew at Burbage. They were on the rally scene in the early 1970s when they were acclaimed as being the best restored ploughing engines. The motion work was exemplary, as was the paintwork, and they won many awards when being rallied by Andrew.
Since they have been with Richard, they’ve had a very easy life, but both will need boiler work of some kind. No. 15170 will have a one-day ticket to be steamed on the day of the sale. The much-in-demand, four-furrow Fowler anti-balance plough is also in the sale, and is in excellent condition.
The other ploughing engine being sold is the very desirable and unique 1884 Fowler 8hp No.4223 single-cylinder model AC9061, Aethelflaed. This engine features the ‘one engine’ Bomford & Evershed Ltd roundabout winding arrangement, with a winding drum on its smokebox. It was last seen by most in the 1990s at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, in the Fowler display marquee. This wonderful engine, with which you will fall in love when you see it, will need some boiler work, but is a perfect picture to look at with a very long regulator lever on the footplate.
We’ve left the best to last in the Fowler line-up – 1915 BAA No. 11717 Anglo-Australian light pattern traction engine, which was intended to compete against the cheaper American traction engines which made some inroads in the Australian market, particularly JI Case (which interestingly were sold there by International Harvester Co), Frick Eclipse and others. However, the Fowler was far superior in its build quality. This engine had all the boiler work and more sorted out by Bicknells in the late ’90s, and has done hardly anything since. The gearing is in very good condition, as well.
It appears Fowlers sold eight of these engines to Australia; the first five went to Victoria and the last three were completed by 1915. They did build one more, No. 10777, which went to South Africa on the Transvaal. This engine had an extended frame and the famous mealie sheller drum in front, and was successful in this operation.
The 1899 Savage No. 474 traction engine Elisa is all back together with boilerwork by David Bicknell, and is to be kept by the family. As for the famous ex-Baldwin Brothers, Wadhurst, 1876 J&F Howard Farmer’s Engine No. 110 which Richard bought back from the Henry Ford Museum at Greenfield Village (including its broken rear axle), that too will be retained by the family. Many of us have enjoyed it working with its roundabout tackle at Steam Plough Club events over the years. In fact, Richard went to Australia on one occasion to measure a self-moving anchor that was cast here in the UK, from the dimensions obtained.
However, there is a whole host of very rare and interesting steam ploughing implements from Howard and Fowler to be offered at this sale. As time went on, Richard concentrated on his veteran tractor collection and most of these are to be offered at the sale. I even took a photograph of Richard at the 1998 three-day Oscar Cook sale, at his Dreamland premises in Montana, where he bought three tractors which are in the sale and include the Parrett H which carries a Buda 12-25 engine. In fact, this type of tractor was sold in the UK as the Clydesdale, of which there is one known example which Cheffins has sold in the past.
Dent Parrett went on to design the first Massey-Harris tractors plus many ‘lesser-known’ family tractors in the 1930s, including the 1934 Love. He then went on to develop and sell the disc brake that many makes took up, with JI Case being one of the first.
Another tractor from the Dreamland sale is the Huber Super Four No.7772 cross-engined tractor which looks so original. The last tractor that Richard bought, was from Derek Mellor who had only weeks to live himself. This was the big and cumbersome Gray 18-36 Drum Drive which is a type that was sold in the UK, and took part in various British tractor trials including in 1919. This example is in excellent, restored condition.
Richard had previously purchased from Derek the JI Case 1915 three-wheeled 10-20, a type of tractor designed by Towyn, Conway-born David P Davies. This has been seen in the working field at the GDSF a couple of times. Some 6,679 were built during in its three-year run, and this machine is in excellent condition.
It’s a similar case with the fine-looking lightweight Advance-Rumely L 15-25 Oil Pull, which was introduced in 1924. Also available is the Hamilton, Canada-built Sawyer-Massey 11-22 previously owned by Bob Parkes of Marsham, in Norfolk, which runs a treat. The fine ex-Rackham Peterbro is in the sale, as is the ex-Australian Ronnie Deering Ruston-made British Wallis.
There are two lovely restored Internationals; a 10-20 Titan and even better 15-30. It would be hard to find two better examples of this make, while there is also an early, stunningly original McCormick-Deering 10-20 that I just loved. Like most of the tractors here, they have been breathed on by Robert Holt, who got nearly all of them running with Richard over the years. Pulled out was the well-presented ex-Richard Sturdy Huber Super Four 18-36 No. 9644; a great Ohio threshing tractor in excellent condition with the magneto off when I was there.
I have only touched on some of the stock, but there are other great tractors like the Case Crossmotor K18-32, which I was reminded I drove some years ago at a wet Newby Hall Tractorfest, sponsored by Cheffins, to a lovely original Case C and a Wallis 20-30. Robert says it’s a good runner.
In the workshop was the Case Crossmotor 25-45 which just needs the new liner sealing rings fitted and all the parts are here for it to be completed. Also in the workshop, and 85% completed even with apple-green paintwork, is the 1926 Lauson 15-30 that carries the Beaver engine and was a good, powerful tractor for its time – a make I have a lot of respect for.
Going back to the original theme is the Hart Parr 18-36 in very complete and original style. Again it’s a runner and the same applies to the Allis-Chalmers E 25-40 on which you can still see the original lining on the bonnet.
Two Austins are offered, a genuine 1919 Birmingham example No. R.489 and a narrow Liancourt-made DE example which the French Austin company offered in three different sizes. Two types of Muir Hill dumpers are offered including a desirable WW2 Fordson N example, while the other machine is similar to the Dinky Toy model with the E1A engine.
There are a number of very original David Browns, starting with a very complete Cropmaster with full lift equipment on the back and a pulley. Also spotted were a 25 model and 990 Implematic with mower and more. The Ford line features a delightful Ford 9/2N with some original extras to it. There are other Fords including an MoM with a later engine, N, E27N, Major and Dexta. If you want a Fiat 700, the competition to the Fordson in Italy during the ’20s and ’30s, there is one to go for here. Also included in the sale is the superb pre-war Fowler 4/40 crawler in excellent restored condition.
I thank the Cheffins team under their MD and chairman Bill King for the invitation and the hospitality shown to me by Richard, Jayne and Carol and others while at the premises. Things are certainly set for perhaps the most important European veteran and vintage agricultural sale during 2023. It’s certainly an event not to be missed.
This feature comes from a recent issue of Old Glory, and you can get a money-saving subscription to this magazine simply by clicking HERE
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