Leslie Hutchison. Co.Tyrone. N. Ireland.
Those of us who have been fortunate enough to visit the Massey Ferguson museum, may well have admired the 1936 Type A, on display there.
Most of us know by now, that these tractors were manufactured by David Brown of Yorkshire. The example on display is of particular significance, as it was the first one built, and thus carries the serial number 1. From the Harry Ferguson sales records for Northern Ireland (a copy of which exists at Greenmount Agricultural College, Antrim), we know that this tractor and its implements arrived in Belfast on the 21 st April, 1936 . They were used throughout the year for demonstration and show purposes.
One of these early demonstrations was held at Andersonstown and attended by a number of prominent figures. An account of this appeared in The Northern Whig and Belfast Post, Tuesday 26th May, 1936. On 12th January, 1937, No. 1 tractor plough and general cultivator were sold to Mr. Thomas McGregor Greer, Tullylagen Manor, near Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, whose association with Harry Ferguson went back to the early years of this century.
Thomas McGregor Greer was the only son of Thomas Greer, M.P., F.R.G.S. of Grove House, Regents Park, London and Sea Park, Carrick fergus , Northern Ireland. In 1898 he inherited the lease of Tullylagen Manor. When asked his occupation for the parish records he replied, “Gentleman.”
Greer’s many varierd interests included wood-carving, photography, gardening and last but not least the motor-car. He became the first man to drive a car, a De Dion Bouton, through the famous wide main street of Cookstown. Subsequently Greer purchased another car. From local legend· I believe this was a Vauxhall, a make at that time gaining a reputation for fast, well built cars. However, Greer’s later acquistion would not perform to his satisfaction and attempts to remedy the situation failed. Greer had heard about a young machanic called Harry Ferguson, who was supposed to ‘have a way with engines’ . So the young Ferguson was summoned to Tullylagen. His success with engines impressed Greer to such an extent that Ferguson was asked to service all cars at Tullylagen from then on.
When Harry was required to stay overnight he slept above the harness room. In winter the only heat was from the iron chimney pipe which passed vertically through the room from the stove below. The well-being of the harness was probably the prime consideration!
When Ferguson started his own garage, Greer was a major financial backer. As a local observed at the time, “when Harry Ferguson came to Tullylagen he slept in the farm buildings, before he left he was sleeping in the Manor House!”
Greer also shared Ferguson’s enthusiasm for mechanized farming. A field at Tullylagen (well away from public gaze), was made available to Ferguson for testing the various designs. During these tests, Ferguson used the services of a neighbouring farmer, called Joe Warnock. Driving a tractor was not a totally new experience for Joe, as he had been taught to drive a car by Greer’s chauffeur. These lessons took place in the farm yard using the De Dion when the master was away.
When demonstrations were given to the public. Joe Warnock would drive the tractor while Ferguson addressed the spectators. Should a mechanical failure occur, Ferguson would automatically blame the operator, not the machine! No matter what Harry Ferguson said Joe Warnock would never answer back. The reason being that Ferguson paid him a bonus to take such blame, thus sparing the machine and Harry, any public embarrassment.
To return to 1937 and Tullylagen, the farm manager at the time was called Jim Scott. Years later he recalled the tractor and plough’s arrival on the estate. “It was an understood arrangement between Harry Ferguson and Mr. Greer, that the very first production tractor and plough would be sold to no-one else other than Thomas McGregor Greer. Mr. Greer wanted to secure his place in history as the owner of the first tractor and plough built for the hydraulic system”. Jim Scott further recalled that Greer did not like steel wheels so pneumatics were very soon fitted. Also he was concerned that there was no protection for the driver from the rear wheels. This probably explains those unique mudguards which are still present on No. 1 to this day.
As rumours of impending war began, the tractor was used to haul trailers filled with stones and rocks to certain locations on the surrounding roads. Here they were unloaded and concealed behind the hedgerows, the idea being that should the enemy invade, Greer’s men would use these to build roadblocks and thereby hinder the progress of enemy vehicles.
On 9th June, 1941 Thomas McGregor Greer died at Tullylagen Manor. At his own request his coffin was placed on a haycart, covered with red carpet and pulled by an Austin car sent from Harry Ferguson’s garage in Belfast. Jim Scott was the driver. The funeral cortege made its way to the nearby Desertcreat Parish Church. Harry Ferguson who was in the U.S.A. at the time was represented by Mr. Joe Thompson, who along with Hugh Reid was to form in 1959, Thompson-Reid Ltd.
After World War II the tractor and plough were sold. A friend of Joe Warnock’s, Mr. Lynch, purchased the tractor and it spent the next few years in the Coalisland area. It was subsequently sold back to Harry Ferguson who, I believe, part¬-exchanged it for a reconditioned Ford/Ferguson.
As regards the No 1 plough this was advertised in a local newspaper, The Mid-Ulster Mail, during the spring of 1947. The buyer was Mr. William Gibson who farmed near the village of Coagh. The price paid was £25, for which he also got the original top-link into the bargain. The plough was collected the followinig day by his son, Sandy. It was with Sandy Gibson’s help that I acquired the plough during March 1980. Other than requiring a few IIlinor repairs it is in much the same condition as it was in 1936.
At present Tullylagen Manor is undergoing a major restoration programme. Soon the house and the farmyard will look as they did in McGregor Greer’s day including the room where Harry Ferguson slept. The new owner, Mr. Raymond Turkington, intends to see that it is preserved.
Leslie Hutchison. Co.Tyrone. N. Ireland. First published Club Journal V.2 N.3 Autumn 1988
The present house at Tullylagan was built during the early 19th Century by the Greer family. The style is that of a late Georgian classical villa. While the precise history is unfortunately not known, it is believed that this building replaced a much older structure which was erected by the Sanderson family.
1898 saw the arrival at Tullylagan of Thomas McGregor Greer. who was responsible for much of the development of the Manor. McGregor Greer was a talented man who had many diverse interests. He considered the Manor House inadequately proportioned for a country residence. Rather than risk spoiling the architecture by adding to the house he decided to excavate the basement. ‘This was a mammoth task depending heavily on manual labour, with the soil removed from the basement. the house became three-storey.
The grounds of the estate received similar attention with many rare and exotic trees and shrubs being planted. Greer was able to identify each plant by its common and latin name.
In the farmyard he installed carpentry facilities and here many fine examples of chairs, tables and other items were produced. As he had by now an exquisite collection of fine bone china a kitchen sink was made from softwood and installed in the Manor House. This was to minimise damage to the china during washing. Desertcreat Church was to benefit as the Holy Table, Chancel Chairs and beautifully carved Reredos were made here and presented by Greer to the Church.
To enable work to continue during the hours of darkness a turbine was installed to drive a dynamo. Intially only those buildings located in the farmyard had electric light. in later years the dynamo was replaced by a larger model and electricity was supplied to the House.
In additton to all this McGregor Greer received many guests from all walks of life at Tullylagan. Sir Edward Carson the eminent lawyer who inspired Terence Rattigan’s play “The Winslow Boy” was a visitor. Another was F.E. Smith who later became Lord Birkenhead the Lord Chancellor, who by 1914 was reputedly earning £30,000 a year at the Bar.
Another person who came to Tullylagan, not as a guest but as a mechanic was none other than Harry Ferguson the tractor pioneer and inventor. To conclude with we reproduce two articles which were written by a local enthusiast and which were published in the Ferguson Club Journal. These relate to Harry Ferguson’s association with McGregor Greer and the estate. We hope you find them enjoyable.
Issued as the cover of an A4 insert to the Club Journal mailing in 1996, with reprints of ‘Anything short of concrete’ V.4 N.1, Spring 1990 and Thomas McGregor Greer and the No. 1 tractor V.3 N.3, Autumn 1988 .
Footnote: McGregor or MacGregor?
The journal articles consistently show Thomas’ middle name as McGregor. The Cookstown Local History group have Thomas MacGregor Greer, Births, Deaths, Marriages have MacGregor.
The manor at Tullylagan recently restored by its present owner, Mr Raymond Turkington. The house has been restored as it was when Harry Ferguson first visited it before the Great War. Photo: G Field, Sutton, Tenbury Wells, Worcs
On Saturday 8th June 1991 Ferguson type ‘A’ No 1 returned to its former home near Cookstown, Northern Ireland, after an absence of 45 years.
The occasion was the Tullylagan Manor ‘Heritage Day’, a tribute to the memory of the late Thomas MacGregor Greer DL, JP, a former director in the pre-war Ferguson farm machinery companies who died on 9th June 1941. This event also happened to be the first ever organised by the Ferguson Club in Northern Ireland. ‘No l’ was recently restored by Club members John Burge and David Bull. It is due to their efforts that the tractor is now in truly pristine condition.
Normally ‘No l’ is on permanent display in Massey-Ferguson’s museum at Banner Lane where it is one of the company’s most prized exhibits.
When the idea of a tribute was originally conceived one or two cynics thought it unlikely that ‘No l’ would be allowed out of the factory gates, let alone to Northern Ireland. However Mr Aaron Jones. Managing Director of Massey-Ferguson Tractors Ltd, recognised the significance of the event and very kindly permitted ‘No l’ to return to its former home. We believe this is the first time that one of the world’s largest manufacturers has sent one of their vintage models to a venue in Northern Ireland. Needless to say, all concerned were absolutely delighted by this and a very big ‘thank you’ is due to Aaron Jones and Massey-Ferguson. without whose generosity it would not have been possible.
Prior to departure, ‘No l’ was completely serviced, checked and resprayed by John Burge and David Bull, who also volunteered to accompany the tractor to Cookstown. Thus on 8th June 1991, ‘No l’ was reunited with its original ‘B’ type plough, No 1, as well as its general cultivator, in the very same yard to which they were delivered 55 years ago in 1936. This must be a terrific achievement by any standards and one of which the Ferguson Club can be justly proud.
The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum was also represented in the form of a full sized replica Ferguson monoplane loaned by our good friend John Moore, keeper of the museum’s transport section. This particular replica was, for several years, on display at Belfast International Airport.
In order to transport it the wings and certain other fittings have to be removed and John was already at Tullylagan at 7am assembling the machine. Recent members who are interested in Harry Ferguson’s pioneering aviation activities are recommended to read John’s excellent article in the Spring 1990 Journal, Vol 4 No 1. (Back issues are still available – see details below. John Moore also wrote in ‘Fly-Past’ magazine, December 1984, on the same subject. Editor)
Among the other Fergusons present were four other Ferguson type ‘A’/Ferguson-Browns. Type ‘A’ No 307, now owned by Noel Greer, has a special association with Tullylagan Manor as its original owner, the late Robert McGucken, saw the ‘Black Tractor’ being demonstrated here in the early ‘thirties. No 307 was itself demonstrated near Cookstown in August 1937.
Dan McTaol from Ballymoney, Co Antrim, attended with his 1937 model, registered as DZ 5220. Dan is a well known vintage tractor enthusiast and appears at many events all over the province. This tractor has Dunlop rear wheels fitted with 24″ tyres instead of the normal 22″ size. Ian McAllistair of Dervock sent his 1937 model, No 467, and driven by Robert Kidd of Broughshane, Co Antrim.
‘No l’ on arrival at its former home for the years 1936 to 1946. Ferguson Club executive officer George Field, with David Bull and John Burge who carried out this impeccable piece of restoration. Harry Ferguson was uncompromising when it came to the presentation of his machinery. He would have been well satisfied with the standard of turnout for this, his first production tractor. Photo: Mid-Ulster News
Published in Volume 5 No. 2 Winter 1991
Footnote: During September 1991 the farm buildings at Tullylagen Manor were extensively damged by fire. The room where Harry Ferguson slept on his early visits to the manor and the garage and coach house were fortunately undamaged. The main building including the hydro-electric plant, stables and function hall were gutted. At the time of writing the extent of structural damage is unclear. The cause of the fire is unknown. Leslie Hutchinson, Newsletter Winter 1991,
World famous for their farm implement range Massey-Harris had expanded into tractor production through the acquisition in 1928 of the JI Case Plow Works Co who held the rights to the ‘WALLIS’ tractor. (A version of this machine had been built in the UK by Ruston and Hornsby and marketed as the ‘BRITISH WALLIS’.)
While the demonstration Harry Ferguson gave for the Massey-Harris executives was impressive, no manufacturing agreement resulted. But then, this was the autumn of 1932.
Not long after this, construction of the Ferguson prototype (popularly known as the ‘BLACK TRACTOR’) was completed. To evaluate the design a series of field tests commenced, one of the locations chosen being Thomas McGregor Greer’s Tullylagen Manor estate near Cookstown, Co Tyrone in Northern Ireland. Here a field well away from the public gaze was used to enable the testing to take place in secret. It subsequently became the best known secret in the district! Joe Warnock, a neighbour of Greer’s, would drive the tractor leaving Harry and his right-hand man Willy Sands free to concentrate on engineering matters.
All this activity at Tullylagen interested a young Cookstown man called Robert McGucken. As well as being good friends of the Warnocks the McGuckens owned the MOC Garage Co and a franchise for ‘Austin’ cars. (MOC Garages occupied premises in Magherafelt, Omagh and Cookstown, the initial of each town forming the company name.) Not surprisingly Robert had little difficulty in gaining access to the test site. Here he found that a small corrugated iron shed had been erected to serve as a field workshop and provide shelter from inclement weather. During this visit Robert enjoyed a long conversation with Willy Sands on the future of mechanised farming – outside the workshop!
In the spring of 1933 Harry Ferguson held a number of public demonstrations using the prototype ‘Black’ tractor. While some refused to take the new machinery seriously others realised its potential. Two of those who did were Hugh Minford. MP for Antrim and Rowley Elliot, MP for South Tyrone. During the second reading of the Agricultural Marketing Bill at Stormont, Minford and Elliot spoke highly of the new farm machinery. Rowley Elliot pointed out that of all the food consumed in the UK. only three-sevenths was actually produced by British farmers. He believed that if the new machinery were to be made in Northern Ireland. it would not only help farmers but increase employment as well.
Not all of those in the Northern Ireland House of Commons shared this view however. The then Minister of Agriculture, Sir Edward Archdale, expressed concern that the machinery might not be suitable for small farms. “It will do a garden .• retorted Hugh Minford. Rowley Elliot then extended an invitation to the NI government to attend a demonstration this being accepted by the Minister of Labour, Mr Andrews.
Sadly a tractor factory in Ulster (the six counties of Northern Ireland) never became a reality and three years passed before the design entered production in England at a Huddersfield gear factory. This resulted from a manufacturing agreement between Harry Ferguson and David Brown and Sons. Put simply, Browns were to build the tractor. Ferguson would sell it.
Throughout 1936 the Ferguson A (Ferguson-Brown) was demonstrated all over Ulster including Ballyclare, Andersontown, Armagh and the Agricultural Research Institute at Hillsborough. At each demonstration an unidentified ‘spectator’ would ask Harry Ferguson the same question: “ls there anything it cannot plough? “Anything short of concrete!” Ferguson would reply.
Despite all this, sales of the new tractor could hardly be described as spectacular. It was apparent that farmers were still loyal to the horse and this was not going to change overnight. A demonstration held at Ardtrea near Cookstown in early 1937 illustrates this point. As the day progressed it was suggested to the farmer who owned the land that he should buy the tractor. He was aghast. “Me! Buy a tractor! The weight of that thing’lI pack the land. No – give me a horse any day. (Harry Ferguson 0 – ‘Dobbin’ 1)
In August 1937 Robert McGucken decided to buy another tractor for the agricultural contracting business he had started. This he mentioned to Harry Ferguson during a visit to Belfast. Not one to miss an opportunity for good publicity and knowing that at least this time he was sure of a buyer, Harry offered to stage a demonstration. A suitable field was found adjacent to the Lissan road near Cookstown, Co Tyrone. The tractor selected, serial no. 307. driven by Joe Warnock, opened the demonstration with a Ferguson ‘B’ type two furrow plough while Harry Ferguson addressed the crowd. A fter ploughing a few rounds. (’bouts’ to ploughmen), Joe turned to the spectators and picked out a young man, a certain Rankin Faulkner. On mounting the tractor. Rankin was given verbal instructions what to do and, moments later, moved off ploughing two furrows with apparent ease. To this day Rankin modestly maintains that his efforts were not exactly world class but, in view of the circumstances, he did very well indeed.
Ferguson ‘A’ No. 307 referred to in Leslie Hutchinson’s article. Note that the oil filter over the magneto coupling is not original equipment. This one was fitted in the late 1950s during an overhaul by a garage in Magherafelt. Taken at the County Armagh Vintage Vehicles Club Rally at Markerhall1989.
Even the sceptics had to admit that this was an amazing feat. Joe Warnock’s choice was certainly not made an random for the Faulkner family owned a successful electrical business in the town and as such were known far and wide. Thus, no-one could accuse Ferguson of cheating by using one of his own employees. The point of the exercise did not go unnoticed. If a novice could use this machine just think what an experienced farmer could do with it. At the end of the demonstration it was announced that the tractor had been sold to, surprise, surprise. Mr Robert McGucken. The farmers went home with much food for thought and their sons very disappointed that they had not been picked to drive the tractor!
Tractor no. 307, registered as vehicle JI 7674 on September 2nd 1937, was shortly engaged on its first job, binding oats. When Robert and his young helper arrived at the customer’s farm they found harvesting already in progress in an adjacent field, also oats. It so happened that on this occasion the binder was being pulled by a tractor bigger, heavier and more powerful than the diminutive type ‘A’. On seeing the new arrivals the driver stopped work and, walking over to the hedge, exclaimed: “You’re surely not going to try and pull a binder with that thing? Laughing loudly he turned and walked back to his own machine. Such sarcasm had a profound effect on our duo. As Robert McGucken recalled: “That day we pulled out all the stops. The light weight of our little tractor made it very easy to manoeuvre. Even though my helper had only recently left school he found the steering no problem. By the end of the day Robert and his young assistant had finished work and were driving out of the field. The other tractor was still working. even though both fields were about the same size.
In September 1939 Robert McGucken sold his machinery and volunteered for the Royal Air Force. Although tractor 307 has had successive owners it still exists and is now owned by Ferguson Club member Mr Noel Greer of Markethill, Co Armagh in whose capable hands it has been restored. No doubt we shall be seeing a lot more of it at future vintage tractor events.
Fifty seven years later the Black’returns to the farming scene on the Ferguson Club exhibition on the Massey-Ferguson stand at the 1989 Royal Show. Dickdowdeswell, long time Ferguson test engineer, stands at the front of tractor.
Photo courtesy Roger Thulbourne
© Leslie Hutchinson (no 166) – 1990 – First published Vol.4 No.1, Spring 1990
The following article has been reproduced from The Ferguson Club Journal, volume 4. No.1, 1990.
1935 was the year in which Harry Ferguson and David Brown reached agreement to manufacture and market the first Ferguson System tractor. The Model ‘A’. Two companies were formed, one with responsibility for engineering and marketing, Harry Ferguson Ltd., the other, David Brown Tractors Ltd., (a subsidiary of David Brown and Sons) with responsibility for the manufacturing side.
Because the new tractor was so revolutionary, and so small, it was vital to convince both farmers and dealers that the System worked and could be of benefit to them. Ferguson therefore embarked on an extensive marketing campaign. This took a variety of forms.
The first public outing for the Ferguson ‘A’ in England took place on Dormington Court Farm near Hereford in May 1936. Here the tractor is performing the classic Ferguson demonstration of tilling a small fenced compound. Not the hop yards at the rear. Does anyone know which field this was in and anyone who was there? Copyright photo courtesy, Institute of Ag. History and Museum of Rural Life, Reading University
The first public demonstration took place near Hereford at Dormington Court Farm in May, 1936, when Ferguson described his new tractor as being “a revolution in tractor designing”. Other demonstrations followed in Ulster, Eire and Derbyshire. One of the Ulster demonstrations led to the first tractor being sold, No.12 off the production line. This was bought in June, 1936, by Mr R.D. Chambers of Tullynaskeagh, Down-patrick, County Down, on whose farm the demonstration had taken place. Coincidentally, Mr Chamber’s son, John, was a member of Ferguson’s design team!
The new tractor, known simply as ‘the Ferguson’, attracted considerable interest wherever it was shown. The demonstrations were arranged with Ferguson’s usual concern for detail and flair from showmanship (plug leads were taken off and planks thrown under the tractor wheels when ploughing). A common feature of the demonstrations was the cultivation of a roped-off enclosure measuring 6 yards by 4 yards in order to show that every square foot of land could be tilled. This was possible because the unit principle design enabled the tractor and implement to be reversed like a car, making it possible to cultivate the whole of such a small plot without even leaving a wheel mark. The farmer’s response was excellent, and the little tractor proved to onlookers the advantages of the Ferguson System by out-performing heavier, more ¬powerful rivals, especially in difficult conditions. This was the case at a
demonstration at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen; the Institute subsequently placed an order.
One aspect of the marketing programme was that Harry Ferguson realised the value of giving demonstrations to well-known personalities in return for the publicity that could be obtained for his machinery. Ferguson himself took charge of these imp0l1ant demonstrations. Demonstrations were given to Lloyd George on his estate at Churt, near Haslemere, Surrey, and to the author, Henry Williamson, on his farm at Stiffkey on the North Norfolk coast. The latter wrote frequently about his tractor in his books (such as ‘The Story of a Norfolk Farm’ and ‘Lucifer before Sunrise’), and his countryside articles for the Daily Express. Despite this publicity, and the fact that ‘free demonstrations without obligation’ were offered, sales were slow.
From late 1938, in an effort to improve sales, some considerable effort was put into building up an export business. Export enquiries were invited, and during 1938 demonstrations took place in Norway which was believed to be a promising market, because in many ways it was ideal terrain for the Model’ A’. Small, very steep fields with many obstructions made it seem uniquely suitable for what the Ferguson System had to offer.
John Chambers on an ‘A’ making a good job of an opening ridge or ‘cop’. Demonstrations like this one in Norway on April 8th 1938 never failed to attract great interest and many, intending to scoff; came away convinced that they had seen the future.
Like other manufacturers, Ferguson realised that agricultural shows provided a valuable opportunity to attract buyers. An early consignment was sent to the 1936 Balmoral Show in Northern Ireland. Ferguson Farm Machinery was subsequently exhibited throughout England, Scotland and Wales at all the main shows (the Royal; Smithfield; Highland; Peterborough; Great Yorkshire).
At these shows a number of Medals were awarded to Ferguson-Brown Ltd. for their power farming machinery, and this of course was ideal publicity. In 1938 a gold medal was won at the Isle of Man Show and silver medals at both the Highland Show in Dumfries, and the Peterborough Show.
Ferguson’s marketing company spent liberally on promotion and advertising. Advertisements aimed at both farmers and dealers were regularly placed in Implement and Machinery Review, Fanner’s Weekly, and Farmer and Stockbreeder, with slogans such as ‘Handsome profits at last’, ‘Monopoly for the distributor’, and ‘It’s easy with the unit principle’. It was stressed that the machinery was all British. Much use was also made of testimonials from satisfied owners, and these appeared both in advertisements and ‘Contact’, the David Brown in-house magazine. A great deal of descriptive literature was produced and made freely available. The main object of the literature was to show that all farm work, whatever the size of the farm, could be carried out by one or more Fergusons as their versatility enabled them to entirely supersede horses.
Ferguson also placed exaggerated claims with the farming press such as ‘extensive demands for Ferguson machinery are being made’. He informed Implement and Machinery Review in May, 1936, that “over a thousand have already been sold”. Consignment photos showing train and shiploads of tractors and implements were sent in to the press. These gave the impression that the tractors and their equipment were selling welI. In truth the machinery was slow to selI, and stocks of unsold tractors were beginning to accumulate. When the inevitable amalgamation of the manufacturing and sales companies took place in June, 1937, it was described in the press an being “a result of the immediate success of the Ferguson hydraulic farm machinery, coupled with the difficulty of meeting demand”.
The training school
In order to encourage sales, and to overcome sales resistance, a special, fully equipped training school was set up by Ferguson at the Huddersfield works in 1936. This was run by Bob Annat, a local farmer’s son. The aim was to improve the standards of servicing, and operation of the tractor, to ensure that their performance was up to scratch. Two week courses were arranged free of charge for. farmers, operators and dealers to learn how to handle, operate and maintain the equipment. Originally the site covered just one acre, but this was eventually enlarged to a 50 acre experimental farm.
From late 1939 onwards, a special effort was made to make known the facilities and the school was widely advertised. Over 400 benefited from the instruction during 1938 alone.
The idea of the training school later became an important part of Massey-Ferguson’s thinking with the present school being set up at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, in the 1940s.
Every tractor was sold with a six month warranty, covering all defects except those relating to tyres (supplied by Dunlop), and electrical equipment (supplied by British Thomson-Houston). A record card was then kept on every tractor sold. Any problems were noted with urgent service needs receiving the promptest attention. Even if there had been no problems with the equipment, this was still noted on the record card.
In order to give speedy and economic service as welI as demonstrations to their customers (both farmer and trade), Ferguson-Brown Ltd. fitted out a number of Austin 10 vans to serve both these purposes. These were fully equipped inside and even included a whole engine which could be pulIed to the back of the van for inspection.
In spite of the determined marketing efforts, and the superiority of the design, demand for the Model ‘A’ developed slowly. This was partly because many farmers remained doubtful of the virtues of such an unconventional, small tractor, and partly because of the cost of changing to the Ferguson System. The new tractor cost £224, almost twice the price of a Fordson, and to buy a Ferguson meant additional expense for the special implements required (at £26 each) whereas a Fordson would probably suit the existing equipment on the farm (it was possible however to buy the tractor on hire purchase, the first payment being £69, with the balance being paid over 12, 18, or 24 months). A major factor why the market was slow to respond was the mid-thirties was an unfavourable period for the economy, and agriculture in particular.
Harry Ferguson and David Brown could not agree on a solution, and decided to go their own separate ways, Ferguson to join forces with Ford in America, Brown to produce his own tractor. Brown agreed to honour all Ferguson-Brown Ltd. engagements in the way of after-sales service, and David Brown Tractors Ltd. were given a license to selI the remaining tractors in stock.
The partnership ended in January 1939, after only 1350 had been bui1t (compared to some 43,000 Fordsons over the same period). In strictly commercial terms the first Ferguson production tractor had achieved little success, but it did sell welI in parts of Scandinavia, Scotland and the Channel Isles, where its special advantages were most useful. Its importance, however, was twofold: firstly, it has gone down in history as the first production tractor in the world to incorporate 3 point linkage, and hydraulic lift with draft control system; secondly, it put David Brown Tractors Ltd. on the road to becoming a major British manufacturer for agricultural machinery, although they now sadly have become part of the Case-International conglomerate.
One of the last ‘A’s, No.1259, owned by the Ferguson Club’s Executive Officer, at a farm sale in Worcestershire, September 1988. Note the original drawbar stays and original 9¬22 Dunlop rear tyres. This tractor has a very detailed history and will be the subject of a future article in the Ferguson Journal. Photograph by George Field
Originall published in Vol. 4. No.1, 1990, Reprinted in Club Journal No.56 Summer 2007
Footnote: The author asks in the first image caption, ‘Does anyone know which field this was in and anyone who was there?” There was a reply in the following Journal, issue 57, Winter 2007/2008:
“Re: the question in Journal No.56, ‘does anybody know the demonstration field in which the first public outing in England of the Ferguson ‘A’ took place’? Yes! I, Ian Ferguson, with the owner’s permission, stood in the exact spot. That information was known to me when it was first published in The Ferguson Club Journal, volume 4. No.1, 1990. Having joined the Ferguson Club in 1987 I thought it my duty to make some enquires, which I did at Hereford library where – upon a small inclusion appeared in a 1936 copy of the Hereford Times which read, a meal was held in the Boothhal! auspice of Imperial Motor Co. for some 40-50 influential farmers, where Harry Ferguson gave a speech before proceeding about five miles east of Hereford on the A348 to the demonstration field at Dormington Court, where about 400 people attended. During my enquires by chance I spoke with one of the three boys in the photograph, he remembered the event hut couldn’t remember where. The man with his hand on the post to the left of Harry Fergusons hat, I believe is a Mr Tom Bradstock who farmed with his father at Freetown, which is about three miles east of Dormington Court, well respected breeder of Hereford cattle, still going strong today. This area was good for growing hops and rearing cattle.”
The story starts back in 2010 when my son Douglas, at that point a young lad came running across Campsie Showfield telling me he had been talking to a man whose father had a Ferguson Brown Orchard. I myself had never seen or heard of a Ferguson Brown Orchard and dismissed him telling him there was no such thing.
As often happens in these situations we then bumped into ‘the man’ at various sales and shows across the country and which developed a friendship with him and his father, Doug McNicol over the weeks and months that followed.
Over a number of conversations with them it transpired that they did in fact possess a Ferguson Brown Orchard and which they had bought in the mid-eighties in Yorkshire and brought home to Scotland where it had been out to a small number of shows in the early years of ownership and then stored away in a shed until we secured it in 2015.
At a visit to Doug McNicols home in Perthshire to see his collection we peered into the shed and couldn’t see a Ferguson Brown however after clambering over a number of larger tractors which were all packed in “wheel to wheel” there she was sitting there gathering dust. A few photographs and some further research verified that it was indeed a rare Ferguson Brown Orchard with its tell-tale tubular wishbone front axle set back to provide a tighter turning circle.
Looking down on the Ferguson Brown Orchard’s wishbone tubular front axle
The Ferguson Brown Orchard on display at the Yorkshire Farming museum. Stuart Gibbard
With regard to the tractor itself Mr McNicol had been coming home from a holiday down South with his caravan in the mid-eighties just at the point the Yorkshire Farm Museum was getting established and called in for a look around. There was a Ferguson Brown on display inside the museum at the time which caught Mr McNicols attention and he was looking over it when his young daughter came running into the museum shouting “dad, dad there’s another tractor outside”. Mr McNico] took himse]f outside and saw what was another Ferguson Brown then realising a]most instantly it was something a bit different. It was a Ferguson Brown Orchard model. He promptly made some enquiries at the Museum and discovered that the 2nd tractor was owned by RV Rogers Nursery in Pickering who had bought it new in 1938 from Kay & Backhouse in York with it having worked in the nursery all its life before being loaned to the Museum in the mid-eighties.
Doug then extended his holiday by two days and took himself off to R.V. Rogers Nursery where he managed to persuade the family to sell him the tractor. The story told being that having successfully bought the tractor he immediately drove back home to Scotland with his caravan. unhitched it, hitched on his trailer and promptly drove back to Yorkshire to collect it in case they changed their mind.
R.Y. Rogers Nursery’s at that time by a strange coincidence bought berry canes from a farm not too far from the McNicols home and the deal that was struck for the tractor involved a trailer load of berry canes going south to Yorkshire, there won’t be many Ferguson Browns that have been bought with a load of berry canes!!
My son Douglas and I had asked Doug that if he was ever selling the tractor to give us a shout never thinking it would be sold however we subsequently got a surprise call in November 2015 to say his daughter who first saw the tractor back in the mid-eighties was looking to raise money for a house deposit and given that she had ‘spotted it first’ Doug had decided to sell it in order to assist her.
The deal was done, not with berry canes, I might add, and my son and I collected the tractor in December 2015 complete with its Ferguson Brown 2 furrow plough.
The tractor itself is a 1938 Ferguson Brown Orchard, Yorkshire registration number BAJ 960 and serial No.1141. It is a straight petrol, all Ferguson Browns having the two tanks whether petrol or petrol / paraffin the distinguishing feature being the water temperature gauge on the petrol/paraffins. The tractor has a deep sump David Brown engine found in models beyond Serial No.500 or thereby, the earlier models having a Coventry Climax engine.
We understand there were around 1350 Ferguson Browns manufactured back in the day with around 10 of these being Orchard models with only a handful of Orchards still surviving today. A rare tractor and the first to incorporate the famous Ferguson three point linkage.
Published in Journal No.91, Spring 2019.
These tractors which are essentially the ancestors of the Ferguson were built as a result of the famous handshake agreement between Henry Ford and Harry Ferguson.
Ferguson needed a tractor for his famous three point linkage system and after trying a joint venture with David Brown (The Ferguson-Brown) he took in 1938, one of these tractors to the United States, Henry Ford was impressed by the ability of the Ferguson-Brown and agreed that Ford should build a tractor that incorporated the Ferguson Draft Control Hydraulic system.
(Ferguson had worked with a number of American companies who manufactured or sold his Duplex hitch Plough and it was one of these, Sherman Brothers, who made the introductions between Ferguson and Ford. At that time Sherman Brothers were the Fordson distributors in New York)
The new tractor was designed by Ford and the styling followed that of Ford Trucks of the time. In order to keep costs down components were adapted from both the car and truck divisions of Ford. The engine for example being one half of the Mercury/Ford truck V -8 and the electrical system based on an automotive one with coil start ignition. Parts from the car division also included the clutch and front wheel bearings. The truck division providing differential gears and brakes. The tractor went on sale in 1939 at a launch price of $585.00 and 10,000 were sold in the first year. (It look a John Deere Model G. which cost twice as much, to equal the Ford 9N per acre ploughing rate).
The original tractors featured Aluminium bonnets, horizontal grill bars (like the later Ferguson) and the vertical grill bar was solid and not perforated as on these tractors on show today. These versions are highly collectable today and those owners fortunate enough to have one polish the bonnets to prove they are aluminium!!
The naming of the tractors is quite simple as they refer to the year of manufacture and/or design change.
9N Introduced in 1939 and bearing the Ferguson System badge;
2N Introduced in 1942 and bearing the Ferguson System badge;
8N Introduced in 1948′
Prototype 9N Tractor 1938/9 at Greenfield Village & Musuem, Dearborn, U.S.A.
Photograph courtesy G. Walsh, Journal cover Volume 3 No.3. Winter 1989/80
The examples you see here of the 9N and 2N were built towards the end of their cycle and the 8N is an early model.
The 2N was a stripped down Wartime version of the 9N. Early versions eliminated rubber tyres, starters and generators. Wartime quotas were introduced by the American government for the manufacture of tractors and heavy trucks and by re-designating the tractor to a 2N Ford was able to get more tractors into its quota and also achieve a price rise! Before 1942 was out restricted items began reappearing on the tractors and many were supplied with tyres and full electric’s. The steel wheeled and magneto ignition versions are the most desirable for collectors. It should be noted that towards the end of its manufacturing cycle the 2N was almost back to the full specification of the 9N and the tractors were built with whatever components were to hand. The factory parts books do not differentiate between th 9N and 2N.
There was a disagreement between the Ford Motor Company, which was now under the leadership of Henry Ford the second, and Ferguson. The new team at Ford cared little for the earlier agreement of for Henry Ford’s statement that he did not care to make a profit on the tractor as he saw it as a way to help America and it’s farmers!! In 1946 therefore Ford advised Ferguson that the agreement was to be terminated within one year. Henry Ford!! instructed his team to build an improved version of the tractor which was launched in 1948 as the 8N. At this time Ford set up a new company (Dearborn Motors) to handle the distribution of the new tractor and implements. In many countries the 8N is affectionately known as the Ford Dearborn.
In 1948 Harry Ferguson commenced a law suit against Ford claiming that the 8N used the patented Ferguson System without agreement or licence. Ford lost the case and was instructed to cease production of the 8N in 1952. An out of court settlement in Ferguson’s favour of $9 million dollars was reached.
In 1953 Ford introduced the Ford NAA and prominent on the bonnet of the restyled tractor was the emblem ‘Golden Jubilee Model 1903-1953’ (celebrating 50 years of the Ford Company) which has become universally known as the Jubilee. It was restyled so that it no longer resembled previous Ford tractors or the recently introduced Fergusons which ‘borrowed’ heavily from the Ford-Ferguson models.
Thus the tractors you see here today played an important part in the development and introduction of the famous and much loved …. Little Grey Fergie!
Our thanks to David Bates for the article and to Dick Heal for the photographs.
Club Journal No. 29, Summer 1998.
9N Portfolio Volume 3 No.3 Winter 1989/90
9N Portfolio Volume 3 No.3 Winter 1989/90
The Ford-Ferguson has always been a subject of interest to me and I’ve read a great deal about it. Although these articles were very informative I still couldn’t exactly tell the difference between a 9N and a 2N, so I decided to gather some information and classify all the changes by year of production. I hope this article will be of interest for some members and if there is something wrong/missing please do correct me!
The reason to introduce the 2N was World War II, by designating a new model Ford was able to bypass wartime restrictions and raise the price. The 2N had some component changes due to wartime shortages like the battery and alternator which were eliminated and replaced by a magneto and hand-crank start. Also, steel wheels became standard equipment. Luckily the great Harry Ferguson was able to convince the government that tractors were as important on the farm as war products to the army. This meant that tractors could soon be fitted with rubber tires and electric equipment again.
There is no 2N prefix on the serial numbers, all 2N tractors retained the 9N prefix. There were a couple of variations of the prefix; 9NAN was for kerosene burning tractors, 9NBN for industrial tractors and BN025 and BN040 was used for MotoTug tractors.
Harry Ferguson with his hands on his hips standing next to Henry Ford.
The first year of production was 1939, models of this year are characterised by a cast aluminium grill with horizontal slots. The mudguards had two ribs and the tinwork was fitted on the mudguard bracket only using rivets. Apparently only the first 700 9N’s were fitted with a cast aluminium bonnet, these bonnets are often sanded back to bare aluminium and polished by enthusiasts. The generator fitted is a 2-brush model.
In 1940 the double rib mudguards are replaced by single rib mudguards. The engine block is now provided with freeze out plugs which wasn’t the case in 1939. The ignition key switch is switched from t he right to the left side of the dash. The 2 brush generator is replaced by a 3-brush type. The third brush on this type of generator is connected to the field winding of the dynamo, the other end of the field winding is connected to a switch which can he adjusted (by inserting or removing resistance) to give ‘low’ or ‘high’ charge. This switch was sometimes combined with the vehicle’s light switch so that switching on the headlights simultaneously put the dynamo in high charge mode). The battery lid is changed from clip held to hinged.
In 1941, the last year of production of the 9N, a new steering wheel with three covered spokes instead of four is introduced. The grill is replaced by a steel model with vertical spokes to replace the aluminium grill with horizontal spokes.
The ‘smooth axle’ is replaced by a stronger two piece riveted axle hub around serial number 9N4l500. A wider 10×28″ rear tyre and wheel was offered as an option to replace the standard Xx32″ rear tyres. The ignition switch is relocated again but this time on the steering column. The starter button is switched from the left side of the dash to a spol in front of the gear lever and acts as a safely device to prevent from starting in gear.
1942 is the beginning of the 2N production, parts left over from (he 9N are used up on the 2N. The steering whee is changed to a 3-spoked wheel with exposed metal spokes. A final change is made to the grill which now has a slotted centre bar.
The holes in the rear axle housing to bolt on the mudguards are no longer solid but they are opened up to create an upper and lower hole, I imagine it was to reduce costs? A new front axle/radiator support replaces the earlier cast iron support and the bonnet side panels are modified to have a mounting bolt accessible from the outside. Last but not least the Ford badge on the bonnet has an engraved 2N on the lower edge and all items that used to be chrome plated are now painted due to war restrictions.
From 1943 onwards very little changes are made until 1947, the only changes made this year is a pressurised radiator and 8×32” inch rear tyres were discontinued.
In 1944 the transmission input shaft is modified to have helical cut gears and the I-beam radius rods replaced by oval rods.
Heavier rear axle housings were introduced in mid-1945 and they were again strengthened in 1946. These were the only changes made in 1945-46.
Finally in the last year of production of the 2N (1947) a casting number and date is added.
Francois Polain: Published in Journal No.84 Winter 2016/17