This unique event was held on 500 acres of prime farmland owned by Hobson Farming and included both the 66th British National Ploughing Championships and the 63rd World Ploughing Contest, the World Contest an event last held in this country 16 years ago.
The results of the World Contest could not have been better for the Mitchell family from Forfar, Scotland. Father and son, Andrew Mitchell senior and Andrew junior, won the titles of World Reversible Ploughing Champion and World Conventional Ploughing Champion respectively. Both have had previous successes in the World Contest – Andrew junior has won the title three times in the past and Andrew senior has won it five times. At times one has won and the other runner-up and vice-versa but this is the first time they have done it together.
Ploughing with a New Holland tractor and Dowdeswell plough, on the first day’s stubble ploughing Andrew senior was placed second, runner up to Beat Sprenger from Switzerland. On the grassland ploughing on the second day, he was again second, seven points behind Thomas Cochrane from Northern Ireland and overall there was only one point between the two, with Andrew taking the title with an aggregate score of 420 points and Thomas with an overall score of 419 points. Third place was John Whelan from the Republic of Ireland with 385 points.
Andrew junior won more comfortably, although he was runner-up on the first day to England’s David Chappell who was ploughing on his home turf of Yorkshire, he took gold on the grassland with his Ford tractor and Dowdeswell plough, with Eamon Tracey from the Republic of Ireland close behind. In the overall placings Andrew junior was more than 15 points clear with 396.5 points, Eamon Tracey second with 381 points and third was Samuel Gill from Northern Ireland with 378.5 points. David Chappell followed closely in 4th place.
Participants from thirty countries took part in the World Ploughing Contest, with competitors travelling from many countries of Europe and Eastern Europe and also as far as USA, Canada, South Africa, Kenya, Australia and New Zealand.
The whole event started on a high with a traditional church service and blessing of the plough. However, it might be traditional, but it certainly wasn’t ordinary! The service was held in the magnificent York Minster and the ploughmen from throughout the world paraded through the streets carrying their country’s flag. They were then led up the knave of the Minster by ‘Tom’, a shire horse with his owner, ploughman Jim Elliott, who pulled the plough to the altar and then stood by through the service.
The British National Ploughing Championships then took place on the first two days – 8-9 September – with the competitors ploughing some near perfect stubble land. Ian Brewer from St Issey in Cornwall won the British National Reversible Ploughing Championship title with 297 points, seven points ahead of Mick Chappell from Doncaster, South Yorkshire. This year’s British National Conventional Championship title went to Don Woodhouse from Retford, Nottinghamshire with 265, beating last year’s winner, David Chappell by six points. It’s the first time Ian has won the title but the second time for Don, who won it 12 years ago in his younger days – he is now 82 years old! Both will represent England in the 2017 World Ploughing Contest which will be held in Kenya.
The horse ploughing was as popular as ever, with crowds around them each day. The first day’s general purpose ploughing was won by Martin Kerswell from Fordingbridge, Hampshire and the second day was won by Jim Elliott from Beamish, Co Durham. Jim also took the overall title of British National Horse Ploughing Champion.
In the National Vintage Ploughing Championships, John Milnes from Penistone, South Yorkshire won the trailing championship, Alex Irving from Kirkcudbright, Dumfriesshire won the hydraulic championship and winning the classic title was James McIndoe junior. James also took the overall title of British National Vintage Ploughing Champion.
The first ever World Vintage Ploughing Championships was also held over the weekend, with twenty four competitors from 13 countries, again including South Africa, USA, New Zealand and Australia. Competitors ploughed with either hydraulic ploughs or trailing ploughs, some bringing their own equipment and some using borrowed equipment.
Ploughing stubble on both days, the hydraulic class winner on the first day was Ian Simms from Northern Ireland and on the second day it was Emlyn Jones from Wales. The trailing class was won by England’s John Milnes, who also took the overall title of World Vintage Champion Ploughman. John won this with an aggregate score of 530 points, with Ian Simms from Northern Ireland in second place with 518 points and Alex Irving from Scotland in third place with 511 points.
The National Young Farmers Ploughing Championship was won by 21-year old Stuart Vickers from Malpas, Cheshire who had won the YFC Conventional class. The YFC reversible class was won by Billy Purkiss from Hockley, Essex, also 21-years old and the YFC vintage class was won by 19 year old George Richards from Ventor, Isle of Wight.
Sponsored by Bridgestone/Firestone, Crombie Wilkinson with NFU, Syngenta, Gallagher Group, Friends of Ferguson Heritage, Carter Jonas LLP and the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, the event was a roaring success. With trade stands and shopping, vintage tractor displays and a fantastic ‘Celebration of Steam’ telling the story of steam engines in agriculture from the 1860s, including exhibits and 30 giant ploughing engines working at some point over the weekend, visitors had much more to see than ploughing alone.
Commenting afterwards, Sue Frith, chief executive of the Society of Ploughmen, organisers of the event said: “It’s been a lot of hard work to put on this event, but it’s well worth it to see so many smiling faces! Some of the contestants and visitors to the World Ploughing Contest have said it’s one of the best they have ever been to and the sun shone for us, so we couldn’t ask for anything more.”