A great deal of interest was shown in a display of 21 older tractors put on by the Ploughing Match Committee at the 1968 Hampshire County Ploughing Match. In early 1969, a group of fourteen people, mostly exhibitors, met together and drew up a few simple rules to form the Club. Since they came from a region largely comparable to the old Kingdom of Wessex, the Club was given its name. The Club was to cater for those with an interest in all types of farm tractors; also stationary or farm engines and all types of farm implements from the past.
The first big event was a static display and ring parade at the Romsey Show. The Club expanded and a newsletter was produced and winter evening talks took place with slide shows and identification quizzes of old tools from bygone days. Various shows were attended and 1971 saw the club organise a show at Cranbury Park near Winchester. Tractor games were a feature of these shows, including attempting to lance tethered balloons while mounted on a tractor. Another was a sort of musical chairs whereby tractors and steamers circled a group of ladies and each time the music stopped the drivers had to run and take a lady back to their vehicle until there was one lady and two drivers left and the faster man won!
Membership had grown to its current level of around 120 by 1973. Local members currently come from an area encompassing the New Forest, Southampton, Basingstoke, Petersfield, Sussex, Chichester, Fareham and Gosport.
The Club Ploughing Match
This has been going since the early days and for some twenty years was under the direction of Fred Mansbridge. The location varies from year to year but is usually within about 5 miles of New Alresford in Hampshire. It takes place on the 3rd weekend in September with some 30 entries.
Tracks Across the Field (a working weekend)
The Club’s Rallies at Upham in Hampshire started in 1986. These were billed as, “ A Vintage Rally and Country Fayre.”
The Upham rally ran out steam in 1992 and then after a lapse of three years it was restarted as the Wessex Working Weekend, however for a variety of reasons it did not catch the public’s imagination, Various solutions were suggested until Committee member Gary Rutter suggested staging an informal crawler event for fellow enthusiasts. The idea was seized upon and fellow Committee member Martin Soper came up with a suitable name, “Tracks Across the Field”. Thanks to Gary’s hard work amongst his contacts, the entries started to come in so that by the third weekend in August 1997, 65 tractors had booked in, of which, around a half were crawlers. The pattern of future events was established at this first Tracks Across the Field. Anyone who wants one is given a plot of land on each of the two days of the event. Additionally Our Sunday Crawl Past with 40+ tractors working together up the field has become a regular feature of the weekend – weather permitting. In 1998 we celebrated the centenary of County and interest was shown from as far afield as Devon and Yorkshire, and we had 94 tractors, of which 31 were from County. The event has continued very successfully ever since. Thanks to our generous hosts we have managed to find sites usually within a short distance of the A272 between Winchester and Petersfield. In 2007 we celebrated our eleventh Tracks Across the Field when we were joined by a fascinating selection of Single Cylinder Tractors for their 2007 Gathering. In 2008 we featured David Brown tractors on a mostly fine weekend. We had 70 tractors of various sizes in our record breaking Crawl-Past.
Tracks Across the Field is a working weekend for vintage and classic agricultural and horticultural machinery, with a mix of stationary and field working machinery usually ranging from field cultivation to timber preparation, or anything that is pushed, pulled or driven by tractors, stationary engines or horses.
It is always an excellent event attend, either as an exhibitor or as a visitor just to see the action.
In recent times this has become a spring event, initially in the Petersfield area. The 2007 and 2008 events explored the lanes and trackways around Alresford.
In the early 1970s a coach trip was organised for a weekend visit to Mr Moffit’s Hunday collection near Newcastle. These annual coach trips continue to this day. Every Spring, and at other times, the club organises a coach trip to places of interest. In recent years visits have included, Big Pit Museum; Tower Bridge; Thames Barrier; Black Country Museum; JCB; BMW; the Doe Show; HMS Belfast; Houses of Parliament; London Eye; SS Great Britain and Clifton Suspension Bridge; John Deere
Club Winter Social Meetings:
these take place on the first Tuesday of the month between October and March except for February which is the Club AGM. There are a variety of speakers, which have recently included Pete Kelly Editor of Tractor; Brian Johnson on his world-wide trips looking at vintage machinery, HMS Warrior, old sewing machines, Alan Doe and Derek Hockley of Does speaking about Triple D tractor conversions, Archive films magazine, Nick Battelle of Old Twenty Parts Co.