V E Day at the Museum of Rural Life 2020
One of our most important artefacts is our Standard Fordson N which was manufactured at Dagenham in Essex in the summer of 1943. Our tractor spent all its working life in the Friskney area before we acquired it three years ago. It is in full working order and has since been involved in our harvest on several occasions towing the Massey Harris binder. This is typical of just one of the tasks that thousands of Fordsons would have performed throughout the country in WW2.
It is often said that this is the tractor that helped win the Second World War. Agriculture suffered a deep depression throughout the 1930s when it was cheaper to import food than grow it. Consequently, much of the arable land was not farmed, became derelict and had to be urgently brought back into production at the outbreak of war.
This was the Fordson tractor’s Finest Hour when it proved its capability in the “Ploughing for Victory” campaign. Land was thus brought back into production with the Fordson cultivating and drilling cereal crops and ultimately towing the binders to bring in the crops at harvest time.
The Fordson N was first introduced in 1929 and was developed from the model F originally designed and manufactured by Henry Ford in America in 1917. The Ministry of Munitions imported 3000 of these to help with food production in UK in WW1.
Initially the Fordson N was manufactured in Cork, Ireland, but production was later transferred to the new factory at Dagenham in 1932.
The Fordson was very popular with farmers being rugged, reliable, simple to operate and very good value for money at around £150. Throughout the War a total of 137,483 were produced by May 8 1945.
Besides their extensive use in agriculture, Fordsons were widely used by the RAF on airfields to tow fuel bowsers and bomb trolleys for refueling and arming aircraft. There was even a version produced by Roadless which was fitted with tracks and a winch for aircraft recovery following flying accidents.
The ubiquitous Fordson was also used in the construction industry being converted into dump trucks by Muir Hill and loading shovels, and would have performed an important role in the construction of airfields and other war time building work.
Our Fordson is silent at this time, but will roar back into action once restrictions are lifted.
This country owes the Fordson tractor and all those who operated them, both men and the thousands of Land Girls, a great debt.
Ashley Vincent 8/5/2020