1 October 1999

Fingers crossed for fine weather in 99

The British National

Ploughing Championships

return to Oxfordshire next

weekend. More than 290

competitors will make

their way from all parts of

Great Britain to compete

for the ultimate national

accolade in the art of

match ploughing.

Peter Hill looks ahead to

this major event.

SHILLINGFORD Farm will be a familiar site to competitors and exhibitors alike. Though also a notorious one – last time the event was held there, in 1993, it had to be postponed for a fortnight because of seemingly endless rain during the weeks beforehand.

This year, the Society of Ploughmen will be hoping for fine weather and good ploughing conditions on the medium loam soil, which lies virtually alongside the Thames near the market town of Wallingford.

Working plots

Not that the championships is just one big ploughing match. Many of the leading manufacturers of cultivations equipment have working plots on which to demonstrate their products over the weekend. So this is as much a technical event as one at which the cream of Britains ploughmen can show off their skills.

The variety of equipment and techniques in use over the two days will be extraordinary. From heavy horses carefully stepping their way back and forth, and vintage tractors quietly chugging through their task, to the modern tractors and ploughs set up to produce the best possible finish. Tracklayers and compact tractors also feature on the programme.

Its a familiar format for the most part. Day One sees competitors in the open classes for one-way (reversible) and semi-digger (conventional) ploughing going through their paces in an attempt to win a place in the finals on the following day.

Vintage classes

Saturday also sees classes for vintage trailing ploughs, general purpose horse ploughing and the garden/horticultural tractors.

Day Two is when the tension really begins to build, as qualifying competitors fine-tune their skills, tractors and ploughs – and hope for a bit of good fortune – as a top championship placing in the open classes comes firmly into their sights.

The National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs championship also comes to a head on Sunday, with more vintage and horse classes, as well as tracklayer ploughing, being run on this day.

It all comes to close after the 5.00pm awards presentation when the trophies and certificates are handed out and congratulations freely offered.

It will also be the moment when qualifying competitors discover whether they have won the honour of representing England in the new millenium World Ploughing 2000 championships being staged in Lincolnshire next year.

Event facts and figures

Dates: 9th/10th October 1999.

Venue: Manor Farm, Shillingford near Wallingford, Oxon (alongside the A4074 Oxford to Henley-on-Thames road).

Entry: Adults £5.00; Pensioners & children £2.50. Free parking.

Host: Mr & Mrs Stephen Cook and family.

Organiser: Society of Ploughmen – tel: 01302-852469 – fax: 01302-859880 – website: www.ploughmen.co.uk

Tourist information: Accommodation – tel: 01491-826972 – website: www.wallingford.co.uk

Timetable

Friday, 8th October

7.30pm: Service of Dedication and Blessing of the Plough, Parish church, Warborough, Oxon.

Saturday, 9th October

9.00am: Competitors parade

9.00am-5.00pm: Machinery demonstrations

10.00am-2.00pm: Tractor ploughing

10.30am-3.30pm: Horse & vintage ploughing

Sunday, 10th October

9.00am-5.00pm: Machinery demonstrations

9.45am: Finalists parade

10.00am: Morning service

10.30am-3.30pm: Horse, vintage & high-cut ploughing

11.00am-3.00pm: Open & YFC National Ploughing Championship Finals

5.00pm: Awards presentation