The Farmall M and the Red Tractors of Great Britain

The line of Farmall M tractors brought International Harvester Company's tradition of excellence to Great Britain.

| February 2014

  • The first Farmall M produced at the Wheatley Hall Road, Doncaster, plant in England was delivered in 1949 to Alan Neale, the son of former IH Great Britain chairman Arthur Neale, who, following his retirement, turned to running his own 1,200-acre farm near Cambridge. Farm and tractor are still in the family.
    Photo courtesy Wisconsin Historical Society/24762
  • "Red Tractors 1958-2013" (Octane Press, 2013) is author Lee Klancher's meticulously researched look at the history of International Harvester Company, a landmark American company that defined agricultural business for a century.
    Cover courtesy Octane Press

Red Tractors 1958-2013 (Octane Press, 2013) is an authoritative and unparalleled look at the tractors built by International Harvester Company and Case IH. Author Lee Klancher leads a research team that has collected more than 380 pages and 700 images, documenting these beloved machines built in America and abroad. In this multi-part series, Farm Collector shares the first chapter of Red Tractor, "1958-1959 The Hinsdale Connection". This first chapter excerpt, from contributor Martin Rickatson, heads across the pond for a look at the Farmall M line, IHC tractors of Great Britain.

You can purchase this book from the Farm Collector store: Red Tractors 1958-2013.

International Harvester Company of Great Britain (IHGB) was founded on December 31, 1906, with offices in London. It wasn’t until 1947, though, that the firm began manufacturing machinery in England, at a factory at Doncaster, 170 miles north of the capital.

In September 1949, the first Farmall M tractors rolled off the Wheatley Hall Road production line, while a second IHGB tractor plant opened in 1954 in the nearby town of Bradford. In 1964 IH added a second Doncaster plant, at Carr Hill. The Bradford facility closed in 1982, at the height of IH’s financial troubles, while the Wheatley Hall Road and Carr Hill factories in Doncaster transferred to new ownership in 1985, with Tenneco’s purchase of the IH ag group. Wheatley Hall Road continued to produce tractors and components (alongside the former David Brown/Case plant in nearby Meltham) under the Case-International/Case IH banners, while Carr Hill, which had been mothballed in 1983, reopened as a component plant in 1986.

Meltham closed in 1988, but the Wheatley Hall Road factory in Doncaster continued to produce Case IH tractors until Fiat’s purchase of Case Corporation and the subsequent forced divesture of the Doncaster plant in 2000 to ARGO, purchaser of the McCormick brand. Carr Hill, which had reopened to produce components, was also sold, to Italian transmission company Graziano. At the end of 2007, ARGO closed Doncaster and moved McCormick tractor production to its Landini factory in Italy.

McCormick International B-250 and B-275

Production of IH tractors in the UK began in 1949 with a British version of the Farmall M, but by 1958 engineers at IHGB had designed a range tailored specifically to the needs of UK and continental farms, where fields are smaller and roads narrower than in North America, and row crops are not as widely grown as cereals and grass. The following year, exports began to North America to meet the growing demand for smaller farm-chore tractors.


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