Ploughing Match


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Ploughing Match

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The Bridgwater ploughing match has sections for horse ploughing, vintage tractors and modern "state of the art" machinery - and, in 2005, there was a pair of steam ploughing engines in action.

Shire horses ploughing

Starting with the horses and my friend Terry with his pair of Shires, Tommy and Jasper.  It may look leisurely from afar but their long legs take some keeping up with when you're trying to steer the plough!

Shire horses turning the plough

Ploughman lining up the plough

Two photos of Tommy, Jasper and Terry turning the plough before going back down the "land" as the section each ploughman has to do is called.


The start of a straight furrow

The team head off, aiming to produce a perfectly straight furrow and to cover all stubble from the previous crop.



Shire horses ploughing

Shire horses ploughing

Another pair of horses coming up and then back down their land.



Shire horses ploughing

The same team making their way back up, part of the skill of ploughing with horses is to keep them at a walk, it's easier for them to go at a trot but impossible for the ploughman to control the plough!


Shire horses resting at the end of a furrow

While the ploughman checks the last furrow (and gets his breath back!) the horses have a break as well, usually standing quietly with no one with them as these two and the pair beyond are.


Plough horse harness decoration

A close up of the bells and brasses on a heavy horses harness, many of the traditional designs were born of superstition and were intended to guard against evil spirits, the modern ones mark events the owner has participated in.

Shire horses ploughing

Tommy and Jasper

Two more views of Tommy and Jasper - with Terry looking between them.  I once saw Tommy refuse to move forward, when someone looked closely in front of him they found a Harvest Mouse hiding in the stubble!


A variety of heavy horses

Three of the teams at the bottom of their lands, furthest from the camera is a pair of Suffolk Punches, the others are Shires - but they could be Clydesdales as the differences are minor and at one time a horse could be in both stub books!

A pair of Suffolk Punches

A closer look at the Suffolk Punches, they are shorter and stockier than Shires or Clydesdales and are clean legged - i.e. the don't have hairy legs!  They are now an endangered rare breed so it was especially nice to see a pair at work.


A pair of Suffolk Punches

Another view of the Suffolks waiting patiently for the ploughman, the haimes of one's collar providing a handy hook for his jumper.


Plough horses wait patiently

This pair were also waiting patiently, looking for all the world as if they were having a quiet chat!


Case and David Brown tractors

On to the tractors with this photo of a Case and a David Brown crossing as they worked their respective lands.  In later years Case bought David Brown - and then International Harvester, so many names now in the past as in so many industries.

Case tractor with spiked metal wheels

A closer look at the Case showing its all metal, spiked, wheels.  While the spikes might give good grip working in the fields you certainly couldn't drive on of these on a tarmacced road!


David Brown tractor ploughing

Another shot of the David Brown while the driver stopped to talk to another ploughman who was adjusting his plough  - something they all spend a lot of time doing as they strive for the perfect furrow.


Two International tractors ploughing

Two Internationals passing while ploughing, it is noticeable that the tractor drivers spend much of the time looking backwards and adjusting the plough.


A variety of old tractors ploughing

Two Massey-Fergusons and an International in action.



David Brown and Fordson tractors

I think the nearest tractor is a David Brown with a Fordson in the background.



Old Fordson with modern tractors

An old Fordson with a trailed plough with two of its modern New Holland descendants and a Massey-Ferguson for comparison.


Fordson tractor

A close up of the Fordson, this like the Case above has spiked metal rear wheels but it also has all metal front wheels.


An old tractor with a trailed plough

Not sure what this old machine is, it also has a trailed plough as opposed to one mounted on the three point linkage as with more recent tractors.


Fordson and Fendt tractors

Another more recent but still old Fordson, this one is in the more familiar blue and is dwarfed by a pair of modern Fendts with their large turnover ploughs.


International tractor

The "business end" of an International with a plough on the three point linkage which was first used by Harry Ferguson on the famed "little grey Fergies" and which revolutionised the use of tractors and the range of implements they could use.


International 434 tractor and trailed plough

A 1966 International 434 tractor with a somewhat older trailed plough.



New Holland tractor with a 5 furrow turnover plough

Coming right up to date a New Holland tractor with a 5 furrow turnover plough.  This type of plough enables the plough to go back and forward along adjacent rows while keeping the furrows turning the same way.

Various old tractors

Various old tractors

Two last photos of tractors with a variety of examples including Fordson and Internationals.


Steam ploughing engine

Back to 2005 and the pair of steam ploughing engines in action.  The engines position themselves either end of the field and haul the plough to and fro between them.


Steam ploughing

Plough comes into view...





Reversing a steam plough

The plough itself is double ended, someone rides on it to steer it, reversing is a matter of tipping it so the appropriate end is on the ground which is being done here.

Steam plough and engine

The far engine with the plough coming towards the camera.


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This site was last updated 15/07/2012

This site is 2002-2012 S G J Huddy.

Photos not otherwise credited are 2001-2012 S G J Huddy.  Other photos are included with permission of the copyright holders.