These photos go back to the harvest of 1977 and the Chilton Estate at Hungerford.


At the start of the season, three combines were opening up a field of Italian ryegrass seed.


Mike Ewence explains that he was leading, driving a Clayson 140 15ft combine followed by a New Holland 1550 and another Clayson 140. 


The field headland was on a substantial upward slope with a sunken country lane running parallel alongside. 


“As I approached the top of the field it started to spit with rain. I stopped and went back to help the NH 1550 driver who had blocked his header,” says Mike. 


The driver of the other 140 could not get past the stopped New Holland 1550 and so came to help with the unblocking process leaving his header in the air and his engine running. 


“In those day’s combines did not have handbrakes, but footbrakes that you stamped on and locked,” adds Mike.


“As we were working on the blocked header we suddenly saw the waiting 140 setting off backwards down the hill and increasing in speed until it went through the adjacent fence and over the bank, ending upside down in the road!” 


Luckily the lane was very quiet and no vehicles were travelling along it at the time.


A crane was summoned and the machine was lifted back onto its feet. Substantial repairs were needed to the straw walkers, straw hood, unloading spout and tin work in general. 


“The machine was back in work by the end of harvest although the header was never quite the same again!” says Mike.


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