This unique event moves around Great Britain each year and it was back in 1966 – the year England won the World Cup – when the Championships were last held in the county, near to the Royal Showground at Stoneleigh. The venue this year, which has been generously donated by William Corbett Farms Ltd and John Upperdine, is at Austrey, near Atherstone and the date to add to your diary is the weekend of 13th and 14th October.
Ploughing entries are flooding in as the closing date looms and organisers, the Society of Ploughmen, expect around 230 or more local champions from the length and breadth of the country to take part over the two days. The ploughing classes include ‘world style’ conventional and reversible; vintage trailing, hydraulic, classic and high cut; classes for Ferguson, David Brown and Ford tractors; horticultural, crawlers and magnificent heavy horses.
The top ten ploughmen – or women – from the first day’s ploughing in the reversible, conventional, vintage trailed, hydraulic and classic classes will qualify to take part in their own ‘Plough-Off Final’ on the second day. From these a Supreme Champion of Great Britain will be judged and the Finals will also find the representatives for England who will go on to represent their country in 2019 international ploughing events – either the World Ploughing Contest which will be held in the USA, the European Reversible Ploughing Championships in the Republic of Ireland or the European Vintage Ploughing Championships to be held in Scotland.
The event attracts a unique mix of visitors – farmers and those working in agriculture; vintage enthusiasts and tractor collectors; steam enthusiasts, heavy horse enthusiasts, people with a love of the countryside and people who want to learn more about the land and our farming heritage. As always, there is something for everyone at the Championships and in addition to the ploughing competitions, there will be large static displays of vintage tractors and vintage farm equipment, agricultural machinery demonstrations, a vast array of trade stands selling everything from tractors to tools and a wide variety of shopping stalls and crafts with all sorts from handbags to handcream. This year visitors will also be able to see the unique “Great Steam Ploughing Challenge”.
The Great Steam Challenge is organised by the Steam Plough Club and will cover around 60 acres of the 250 acre site. A fantastic sight will be seen when more than 20 engines will be taking part in a competition over the two days to find the best work done by these giants of the past. This is only the eighth Challenge to held in the past 24 years so it is an attraction which won’t be seen for a few more years to come. The ploughing engines will include seven single cylinder engines – a very rare sight to see so many of these very early engines together which date back to the 1860s. The remainder of the engines will be later compound (two cylinder) engines built in the early part of the twentieth century.
Sue Frith, Chief Executive of the Society of Ploughmen, said “We are delighted to be coming back to Warwickshire this year and the interest we have in the area is fantastic! In fact, interest in the ploughing increases year on year from people up and down the country. We’ve seen tremendous support for the event when it has been held in the south and north of the country in the past few years so we’re hoping it will be a good decision to bring the Championships back to the Midlands this year”.
Bookings for trade stands and craft space are selling fast and sponsorship opportunities are available for both small companies or market leaders. Main sponsors this year are Bridgestone/Firestone and Maxam Tire.
The site is in an excellent location, only 4 miles from the M42 (A42 junction), just next to Twycross Zoo, so if you follow the signs to the zoo and you won’t go far wrong.