The 2017 British National Ploughing Championships have been hailed a great success by the organisers when crowds flocked to the event, held at Bishop’s Lydeard, near Taunton, Somerset on 14th and 15th October.
On land loaned by K S Coles and family, this ever popular agricultural event drew in visitors from all over the country who went to see over 260 ploughmen and women taking part in the various competitions and enjoy other agricultural displays on offer.
Good weather over the weekend matched the good ploughing conditions for the competitors and all the titles were hotly contested. Changes had been made to the classes this year, with five ‘plough-off’ finals with the top ten from the first day ploughing in each one.
Mick Chappell from Doncaster, South Yorkshire was the winner of the reversible final. Mick, ploughing with his Kubota tractor and Kverneland plough has been runner-up for three years in a row and third twice before that, never quite managing to take the title, but this time he did it in style, with a comfortable win of 28 points ahead of past winner Peter Alderslade from Tyne & Wear. Peter was just one point in front of newcomer, Billy Purkiss from Hockley, Essex, who at 23 years old was crowned the National Young Farmers’ Champion the previous day.
Ashley Boyles from Market Rasen, Lincolnshire won the conventional final for the fourth time ploughing with a Massey Ferguson tractor and Kverneland plough, he had just a 6 point lead ahead of David Chappell from South Yorkshire. Third was Nigel Vickers from Cheshire.
Mick Chappell and Ashley Boyles will represent England in the 2018 World Ploughing Contest in Germany next September and Peter Alderslade and Billy Purkiss will plough in the European Reversible Ploughing Championships.
Three new plough-off finals were provided for the vintage classes this year and the Vintage Trailing final was won by John Milnes from Penistone, South Yorkshire using his Massey Ferguson 35 and Ransome RSLD plough. He had a six point lead on Ray Alderson from County Durham and in third place was John Crowder form Lincolnshire.
The new Vintage Hydraulic final was won by Richard Ingram from Atherstone, Warwickshire also ploughing with a Massey Ferguson 35 and a Ransome TS54 plough. Second place was Philip Allman from Staffordshire and in third place, Emlyn Jones from Powys.
Jon Cole from Whitchurch, near Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire was the winner of the first Vintage Classic final. Jon was using a Ford 3000 tractor and Ransome TS86 plough and had a comfortable lead of 21 points over second place, Stuart Burden from South Yorkshire. Third was Carl Fretwell, also from South Yorkshire. The winners of the three vintage finals will represent England in the European Vintage Ploughing Championships next year.
The high cut ploughing champion, chosen by aggregating the points from ploughing two days was won by Derek Needham from Kings Lynn, Norfolk closely followed by fellow Norfolk-man, Shaun Garrod.
One of the crowd-pleasers, as always, was the heavy horses. Not all had turned up to plough, but visitors were far from disappointed as fifteen pairs took them back to days gone by, as they showed off their skills in the art of ploughing, dressed in their finery. The overall British Horse Ploughing Champion title was won on aggregate points over the two days with Jim Elliott from Stanley, County Durham winning the title for the third year in a row with his Shire Cross, Tom, and Irish Draught horse, Danny Boy. Runner-up was Martin Kerswell from Hampshire.
For the first time this year, one ploughman was crowned Supreme Champion judged from all the winners. Ashley Boyles took this title, winning the Ken Chappell Trophy, a trophy awarded by the Society of Ploughmen in appreciation of the dedication of Ken Chappell MBE who retired this year after 45 years as Executive Director.
The Championships were sponsored by Bridgesone/Firestone, Bridgwater Agricultural Society, Cheffins, Clarke Willmott, Friends of Ferguson Heritage, Greenslade Taylor Hunt, Old 20 Parts, Mole Valley Farmers, Stags, Watson Fuels and Wessex Agri and visitors could take in vintage displays, trade stands, crafts, agricultural machinery demonstrations and steam ploughing and cultivation.
Commenting afterwards, Sue Frith, Chief Executive of the Society of Ploughmen, organisers of the Championships, said, “We would like to say a huge thank you to the Coles Family for providing a wonderful site and making us feel so welcome. Our volunteers worked tirelessly to showcase ploughing and ensure the whole event was a resounding success, so it was fantastic to see so many visitors enjoying the weekend.”