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George reunited with plough ( 64 years on.

Byline: By Anna Lognonne

When champion ploughman George Hall won his first ever ploughing match at the age of 14, he was very impressed with the Ransomes trailed plough that he had borrowed for the competition.

But he never dreamt that 64 years on he would be reunited with the same plough for his last ploughing event before retiring at the age of 77.

Despite attempts to trace and buy the plough during that time, the piece of vintage machinery remained elusive. But a few years ago, neighbouring farmer Fred Ryle, from Earsdon, near Tritlington, was offered the old plough, which had been gathering cobwebs, and he set about restoring it to its former glory.

And when he learnt that it was the same plough that Mr Hall had used in his first ploughing competition, he organised a vintage fun day to reunite it with his mentor for one last time.

Mr Ryle said: "George taught me how to plough so I owe a lot to him. When I got hold of the plough and realised its significance I set about getting it going again for him. And then I organised the vintage ploughing day so that George could use the plough once more."

Mr Hall said: "I can't thank Fred enough for making all this possible. It really was a great day and brought back many happy memories, as I hadn't set eyes on that plough for 64 years.

"I can still remember that very first ploughing competition, organised by Tritlington Young Farmers Club at Longhirst Lane Farm in December 1942. I was 14 years old at the time and I hadn't done much ploughing with a tractor, we were still using the horses. We had a tractor on order but during the war it often took two or three years before they were delivered.

"I got to the ploughing competition on my bike and watched as they brought out the tractors and ploughs. In the distance I could see a tractor and plough coming across the field and I remember they had to dismantle the rails from the fence to get the tractor through the gateway. And this was the tractor and plough that was allocated to me.It was the first time I had ever used a Ransomes plough ( previously I had only used an Oliver ( and I thought to myself this is a really lovely plough.

"Afterwards the plough, which was owned by Mr Brewis, was taken back to Blueberry Farm and I lost all trace of it until the 1970s when both Longhirst Farm and Blueberry Farm were swallowed up by the Butterwell opencast site.

"There was a dispersal sale of the farm equipment and I saw a Ransomes plough advertised so I went along thinking that I might try and buy it. But unfortunately it was a different one. However I did bump into a gentleman who said that he had the Ransomes plough in his garden as a piece of garden furniture, but he wouldn't part with it. So I never saw that plough again until this man's son gave it to Fred Ryle, who has restored it and allowed me to plough with it once again 64 years later."

The vintage fun day was the pinnacle of a successful ploughing career for Mr Hall, who has lived all his life at Earsdon East Forest, either at the farmhouse or the cottage, and is married to Betty.

Having finally announced his retirement from ploughing competitions, Mr Hall remains the only Northumbrian in history to have won the championship for five different types of ploughing ( high cut; general purpose, trailed; general purpose, mounted; semi-digger, trailed, vintage; and mounted or digger world style. He is also the founding member of the Northern Area Vintage Ploughing Association, which he started in the 1990s and is still going strong.

Mr Hall said: "I have really enjoyed the ploughing competitions and I have made many good friends through them. Although I've sold my plough I might go and watch some of the ploughing matches as I haven't lost my interest in it. And of course I'll be phoning up my friends after the competitions to see who won and what sort of job they made.

"Looking back over the years, I think the best day I ever had was at a Northern Counties competition. I had to borrow a plough and there were 14 other people in the class, including three British champions who had represented England in the World Championships. And I beat them all."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 6, 2006
Words:758
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