Sue Roberts Finds Interest in the Vintage-Tractor Scene

Sue Roberts is making headway for female collectors to become more involved in the vintage tractor scene.

| December 2014

  • Glyn's Ferguson tractor
    Sue Roberts was brought up on a farm, surrounded by old tractors. Her dad, Glyn (shown here), still tinkers with machines today. As you can see by the Land Rover cab on this Fergie, Glyn has not only a good sense of "make do and mend," but also quite a wicked sense of humor.
    Photo by Josephine Roberts
  • Neil Roberts
    The man behind it all: Sue's brother Neil, shown here with just one of his 22 tractors. An avid tractor collector, Neil encouraged Sue to take up the hobby.
    Photo by Josephine Roberts
  • Lowri Williams beginning a charity road run
    It's Sue's mission to use her tractor to raise as much money for charity as possible. Shown here is club member Lowri Williams about to embark on the charity road run on her Fordson Dexta.
    Photo by Josephine Roberts
  • The Roberts' dog
    The Roberts family is a talented bunch. Even the dog can drive.
    Photo by Josephine Roberts
  • Sue and Graham Jones
    A tractor road run is not normally a place where one goes expecting to fall in love but it worked for happy couple Sue and Graham Jones, who met whilst on their tractors.
    Photo by Josephine Roberts
  • Sue with her Fergie at a recent show
    Sue at a recent show. She's always on her grey Fergie, always with a big smile and she's almost always the only lady tractor owner in the line-up.
    Photo by Josephine Roberts
  • The Ial Vintage Club threshing day
    The Ial Vintage Club holds an annual threshing day in Ruthin, showcasing tractors and farm implements. The Marshall threshing box and Ransomes stationary baler belong to collector John Arrowsmith.
    Photo by Josephine Roberts
  • Sue's Ferguson fertiliser spreader
    Sue regularly takes her tractor to shows. She's just acquired this Ferguson fertiliser spreader, adding interest to the tractor.
    Photo by Josephine Roberts
  • During both world wars, British women (as part of the Women's Land Army) learned to undertake all manner of farm work while the men were away fighting. Their sterling work enabled continued farm production during a time of immense hardship. This is a rare picture of a group of early World War II "Land Girls" in training. Many of these ladies came from cities and had no previous knowledge of tractors and farming, so what a learning curve that training must have been. Many ex-members of the Women's Land Army later recalled how much they enjoyed their days as Land Girls, and how they had a great sense of empowerment from being able to drive tractors, plough fields and help to feed a hungry nation.
    Photo by Josephine Roberts
  • Sue with one of Neil's Fergies
    Sue on board one of her brother Neil's many grey Fergies. The family has so many tractors between them that they decided to hold their own annual show, with proceeds donated to local charities.
    Photo by Josephine Roberts
  • Graham Jones with his 1964 Super Dexta
    Sue's fiancé, Graham, on his 1964 Super Dexta, which he recently restored.
    Photo by Josephine Roberts
  • Fowler Track Marshall
    Sue's dad, Glyn, has collected several old tractors over the years, including this lovely old Fowler Track Marshall, a tracked version of a Field Marshall tractor. Field Marshall tractors were a range of single-cylinder British tractors manufactured between 1945 and 1957 by Marshall, Sons & Co. of Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.
    Photo by Josephine Roberts

  • Glyn's Ferguson tractor
  • Neil Roberts
  • Lowri Williams beginning a charity road run
  • The Roberts' dog
  • Sue and Graham Jones
  • Sue with her Fergie at a recent show
  • The Ial Vintage Club threshing day
  • Sue's Ferguson fertiliser spreader
  • Sue with one of Neil's Fergies
  • Graham Jones with his 1964 Super Dexta
  • Fowler Track Marshall

There’s no denying that the vintage tractor scene is male-dominated. I don’t mean that as a criticism. It’s simply a fact that, when it comes to tractor enthusiasts, we have many more males than we do females. I don’t believe this is because women feel they are excluded; I think it’s just the case that females tend not to be as interested in old iron and vintage vehicles as men are.

Men have always been more fascinated by machines. Men were the driving force behind the industrial revolution and they remain the prime movers in today’s vintage vehicle scene. But I can’t help feeling that, gradually, this wonderful hobby of ours will see more and more females. Back in the early days of motoring, it was extremely unusual to see a female driving a car; now they are everywhere. Not so long ago many women thought that driving was too technical or even too difficult for them. Now we lady drivers are actually considered to be statistically safer on the roads than our male counterparts.

Many females may assume that tractors are complicated or scary to drive. I’ve met women who are surprised that I can drive a tractor, as though they think it must be considerably more difficult than driving a car. To them I say, “if you can manage a car in London’s nightmarish transport system, then I’m sure you are more than capable of chugging along a country lane on an old tractor!”

I think many of the differences between the male and the female attitudes to machines and vehicles stem from an individual’s upbringing. Boys are brought up to believe that they can and will drive big machines, and girls aren’t. There are of course a few differences in the way our brains work, but on the whole I believe it is more about nurture than nature.



Just part of the landscape

If, like me, you were a girl brought up in a family of men, then you are more likely to feel capable of doing “men’s stuff” as you get older. Sue Roberts of North Wales (no relation to me, though we bear the same surname) is another female who was brought up in a household full of blokes, all of whom were crazy about machines.

Sue grew up on a farm with a bunch of brothers, all of who tinkered with machines from an early age. They were into anything and everything mechanical, from tractors to motorbikes, and Sue just joined in with it all. On occasion their mum was known to run out of the house, at her wit’s end, yelling at one or another of them to, “stop tearing around the field on that thing!”



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