Irish Farm Implements: Ferguson Tractor Heritage

Harry Ferguson lives on in the Ferguson tractor and farm implements from one Irishman’s collection.

| June 2014

I’ve discussed in this column before the importance of the Ferguson tractor for us Brits. Not only was it a hugely successful machine and the first tractor for many farmers here, its revolutionary 3-point linkage system completely changed the way in which farm implements and tractors worked together.

Engineer and inventor Harry Ferguson was born at Growell, Northern Ireland, in 1884. How proud the Irish nation must be of him, for whilst he is best known to tractor enthusiasts as the man who brought us the world-famous little gray tractors and the hugely innovative Ferguson System, he was also famous for several other feats of engineering. Ferguson was the first Irishman to build and fly his own airplane and he also developed the first four-wheel drive Formula One car.

It is most fitting that only 10 minutes away from Harry Ferguson’s old home lives a truly dedicated Ferguson tractor fanatic called Colin Taylor. Colin is doing his personal best to preserve as many of Ferguson’s wares as possible.

The first tractor Colin drove was a little gray Fergie that belonged to a friend of his father’s. Colin recalls his father lifting him onto the seat, putting the tractor into gear and walking alongside as the 4-year-old boy steered the tractor around a field. Soon Colin looked forward to going to his dad’s friend’s place so that he could “have a spin on the tractor”; he reckons that was the point where his enthusiasm for tractors took root.

Most enthusiasts start their collections later in life, but Colin got a head start. He began his collection whilst still in his teens. Although he is now only in his 30s he has already built up an extensive and fascinating collection of Ferguson tractors and implements.

Fergie mania

When young Colin and his family moved to a rural area, they bought their own tractor for cutting the grass, but the tractor was a Ford and it was the gray Fergies that Colin really idolized. He began to collect pictures and information on Ferguson tractors and constantly daydreamed about owning one. Colin fell in with a neighbour who owned a Ford Ferguson and started helping out with the tractor. Before long he was driving it around the show ring for his neighbour, an important milestone for a 12-year-old lad.