Little Grey Fergie enables us to meet interesting people

A wonderful example of how our Little Grey Fergie enables us to meet interesting people

My experience of being a member of the The Ferguson Club for over 20 years has given me so many memorable experiences of life. Attending country shows, tractor rally’s, road runs, agricultural auctions, the list goes on. Each one of them has a connection somewhere to the Little Grey Fergie. But the one over riding memory is of the people that are involved in all these activities.

Really genuine down to earth people getting on with enjoying life and helping others with a similar interest around them. I’m sure the many readers of Classic Massey will have empathy to these thoughts.

My story here is no exception. The UK has a National Transport Trust, est. 1965 (NTT), it is the only national body which promotes and encourages the preservation and restoration of Britain’s transport heritage in all its forms – road, rail, wings and water.

The NTT’s Annual Awards were being held in the third week of October at Fawley Hill in Buckinghamshire. Fawley Hill is the home of the late Sir William and Lady Judy McAlpine. They have been and Lady Judy McAlpine still is a great supporter of our vintage tractor movement. Sir William was well known for rescuing the Flying Scotsman from its poor state in the USA back in 1973. He was an acknowledged railway enthusiast and built a full gauge private railway running to over a mile long in his grounds. The Ferguson Club Chiltern Vintage Tractor Charity run often uses Fawley Hill’s Railway Station as a base for its run.

It was through these connections that I was asked to supply an appropriate vintage tractor for the NTT Annual Awards ceremony. The patron is the Princess Royal and she was going to be in attendance.

I picked a Ferguson TET20 with a Scottish Aviation Cab, pulling a 30cwt Ferguson trailer, all restored to original specification. It was what I put in the trailer that seemed to draw the most attention though.

A “barn find” Austin J40, it had been sat in a corner of a shed for around 50 years. The big question today for many restorers is do you undertake a full concours style or a patina restoration. Certainly, in the vintage tractor World we now see higher prices for the patina styles than freshly painted. I put a poster up by the TET20 asking the question, “patina or repaint?”

The majority of NTT members seemed to be in favour of patina. HRH Princess Anne took great pleasure in studying the Ferguson set up. She was genuinely interested in the question posed and initially said it should be repainted. I discussed the merits of both with her and then she seemed to change her mind. Although I was told by Lady McAlpine that shortly afterwards she raised the subject again and went back to saying a repaint. The fact that you could have such a down to earth discussion with the Princess Royal was really lovely. I was told one of the reasons she took on the patronage of the NTT was because her father, the Duke of Edinburgh, was equally into British engineering and passionate about its future.

© Gary Anderson, John Selley, Classic Massey and Ferguson Enthusiast Magazine, Jan/Feb 2022.