Mike Thorne, 1938-2023 Ferguson Enthusiast and Club Rep.

Mike Thorne passed away suddenly on  19th September 2023. Mike had been a part of the Ferguson Club since its inception.

Mike was born and brought up in East Finchley, London, where his father was a Quantity Surveyor. As a typical young boy his enjoyment came from his Meccano set and ‘00’ gauge model railway (both of which are on display in The Coldridge Collection). At the age of nine years, he made a working crystal radio set from scratch, showing his practical and technical skills which would put him in good stead for later life.

On leaving school at sixteen, his Father found him a job on a 1000 acres Oxfordshire farm, which started his love of tractors. With his weekly pay of £3/ a week, Mike bought his first mode of transport, a BSA Bantam motorcycle. After a year, Mike moved to Hertfordshire College of Agriculture. On leaving college, he sought employment with the Milk Marketing Board as an inseminator, travelling from farm to farm and in the process picking up welding and fabrication jobs from the farmers for some extra money in the evenings and at the weekends.

It was while working at the MMB that he met Ian Macmillan and between them they bought 120 acres at Lower Whitsleigh, North Devon, milking 30 cows and then buying 57 acres at Lower Park Farm, Coldridge. After some years, the working relationship ended and the business was sold. Fortunately for Mike, several years later he had the opportunity to buy back Lower Park Farm and jumped at the chance.

At Lower Park Farm, Mike over time built new workshops and offices to accommodate his growing business of Michael Thorne Construction Ltd., constructing many large projects in the South West of the country. It was during this period that Mike used his fabrication design and skills expertise to construct the unique buildings to house his growing vintage tractor interest at Coldridge.

Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond Mike’s control, he had to close his beloved construction business. Mike took this opportunity to retire and started writing about and adding to his specialist tractor collection. He always harped back to Ferguson and Massey Ferguson tractors, as his time in Oxfordshire and at college in Hertfordshire, the TE20’s played a large role. This is when Mike decided to condense his collection to Ferguson and MF tractors and implements, especially rare prototypes and experimental models, The Coldridge Collection was thus born.His collection was so Internationally renowned that he was allowed by AgcoCorp, (Massey Ferguson) to have on loan several tractors from their own collection.

Mike wrote four hardback books over the years which were published and sold in good numbers, showing Mike’s knowledge on Ferguson and Massey Ferguson tractors was second to none. He has detailed all his tractors in his collection in very meticulous detail. Mike was also a prolific writer of articles for magazines and journals, including The Ferguson Club. Mike has been a prominent supporter of The Ferguson Club from when it evolved in 1986 to its present day, submitting articles for most issues, which were warmly received by the membership (these articles are all available to read on the Ferguson Club website).

Mike Thorne was a kind and generous man to all those he met. He made his collection open for visiting to enthusiasts from all over the World. He always had time to chat in person or on the telephone about his passion. His calm, friendly, jovial manner was appreciated by many in the vintage tractor movement. Luckily for us, Mike had the vision to catalogue and record all that he knew about Ferguson and Massey Ferguson tractors, and this we are most grateful for. Mike will be greatly missed by us all, but leaves us with a wonderful legacy.

Mike Thorne
I am sure you will already have had numerous tributes to the late Mike Thorne, who, to many of us, was not only a source of knowledge, but also a good friend, whose kindness, generosity and encouragement were very special. In my case, his final good deed was to write the Forward for my recently published book on the ill-fated Ferguson LTX tractor, so I will always be in his debt for that and retain memories of many visits to the Coldridge Collection.  It is an old cliché that ‘They don’t make them like that any more,’ but in this case, too true. David Walker
Mike Thorne
Mike Thorne was one of those people everyone should have the privilege to know in their lifetime. A Real Gentleman. He was a good friend to me and generous with his time, expertise and knowledge. Thank you Mike. Rest in Peace. Rise in Glory.  John Selley