Pitting their skills against the weather

Report by Society Chairman David Greenwood

DESPITE heavy rain toward the end of last week, and torrential overnight rain on Saturday, Scarcroft and District Ploughing Society (S&DPS) successfully staged their annual ploughing match on Sunday last, at Sweep Farm, Wetherby.

Conditions were reasonable at the start, but continual rain during the proceedings made things very difficult for all but the most skilled competitors.

Inclement weather at this match is an absolute nightmare for the organisers, who after the match have the unenviable task of getting more than 100 mud- laden vehicles back onto the busy roads surrounding Wetherby, while leaving at least some of the field in place for the host farmer to carry on his business afterwards.

The public – who are most welcome at this event – were obviously deterred by the weather. Usually we draw an excellent crowd but this year spectators were in short supply.

Entries were slightly down this year, probably due to the Scottish National ploughing championships being held both close to the borders region and on the same weekend as the S&DPS match.

Even so, at 84 entries, it was a good turnout. Unfortunately, some of the less stalwart competitors stayed away because of the bad weather.

Competitive ploughing still remains somewhat of a 'black art' to the uninitiated, but for those of us interested in keeping both tradition and our agricultural heritage intact, it is an absorbing and worthwhile pastime.

S&DPS was formed on Friday, November 1 1907, at a meeting held in the original New Inn, Scarcroft. The first match was to be held on Monday, November 18. Nowadays it takes roughly two months to organise.

In 1907 subscriptions totalled 27, an amazing feat when most of the members and subscribers only paid subscriptions of 1/- (one shilling) After the match the society was left with 10 - 'or thereabouts' - according to the original minute book. Nowadays the cost of staging the event runs into thousands of pounds, the prize fund alone is 500. The important thing is though, that a society formed almost 100 years ago, which provides its competitors with tremendous satisfaction, and promotes what was one of the most important rural skills, is still alive and thriving.

Scarcoft & District Ploughing society is greatly indebted to all the local sponsors for keeping our finances afloat, to Zeigler Farms for providing the venue, and to the judges who officiated at the match, some of them travelling in excess of 100 miles to attend.

Results

Class 3 – Modern Conventional:1, Don Woodhouse, Retford 186; 2, Rob Laybourne, Badsworth 179; 3, Tom Charlton, Sinderby 159; 4, Roger Graham,Gisburn 92

Class 4 – Classic: 1, Stuart Burden, Dalton Magna 242; 2, David Thomlinson, Escrick 235; 3, David Auckland, Penistone 234; 4, Robert Nicholls, Midgeley 220.

Class 5 - Ferguson: 1, David Pickering, Rotherham 87; 2, Ken Smith, Whixley 83; 3, Tony Fysh, Goole 75; 4, Adrian Halton, Sherburn in Elmet 69.

Class 6 - Vintage Mounted:P 1, Donald Walker, Crook 207; 2, Stan Jennings, Markington 205; 3, John Ellin, Swinefleet 193; 4 Paul Higginson, Poulton-le-Fylde 192.

Class 7 - Vintage Mounted Novice: 1, Nicholas Davenport, West Ardsley 75; 2, Miss Emma Thomas, East Keswick 63;

3, Keith Pickford, Shadwell 39; =4, Steve Williams, Gomersal 29; Jim Keirans, Horsforth 29

Class 8 – Trailer Ploughs:1, Mike Watkins, Maltby 128; 2,Henry Taylor, Clitheroe 119; 3, David Walden, Littlethorpe 117; 4, Chris Donaldson, Danby Wiske 116.

Class 9 – Vintage Trailed Novice: 1, Mike Clapham, Melmerby 95; 2,Geoff Dibb, Otley 91.

Trophies were also awarded for the following;

Garden Tractor Ploughing – John Brook, Badsworth Horse Plough Demonstration - Michael Curran, East Keswick Best Presented Tractor - David Thomlinson, Escrick Youngest Competitor – Nicholas Davenport, West Ardsley Female Competitor – Miss Emma Thomas, East Keswick.