21 July 1995

Not just old iron but a fine line-up

TO the uninitiated, the machinery for sale at Kirby Hall Farm, Castle Hedingham, Essex, had the appearance of just so much scrap iron. To those with an eye for such things and a good imagination – it was a treasure trove waiting to be restored to full value.

Over 1600 lots, most of it in poor and even dilapidated condition, came under the hammer of auctioneers Cheffins Grain and Comins. However interest and bidding were high among steam and vintage tackle enthusiasts who will have to wait a long time to see such a sale again.

The Philp Collection was amassed by farming brothers Cyril and Jim Philp, continuing an interest started by their father. It was Cyril, who died aged 94 and left the collection to his nephews, who was most frequently spotted at auctions, buying whatever took his fancy. Four restored steam engines and tackle have been retained by the family in his memory but the rest of the collection needs more restoration than one family could fit into a lifetime – hence the sale.

It drew a good crowd which included foreign buyers. A rare Richard Garrett traction engine manufactured in 1918 went for the top price of £34,000, ten thousand more than estimated. A pair of Fowler BB1 ploughing engines – Prince and Princess – went to a French buyer for £15,500, and Wallis and Stevens traction engines built in 1907 and 1917 went for £10,600 and £10,000 respectively.

Tessa Gates

Undaunted by the often poor or dilapidated condition of the engines and parts for sale, prospective buyers enthusiastically examined each lot.

Above left: This Richard Garrett traction engine took top price at the sale. Above right: John Deere model B tractor rowcrop version on single front wheel (1941).

Above :Peter, Aubrey and John Philp, nephews of collector Cyril Philp, on a John Fowler ploughing engine. Right: William Foster threshing drum on cast-iron wheels.