A FARMER is appealing for help in his quest to find a photograph of a tractor that was taken outside Uttoxeter Town Hall in 1948. The machine now belongs to Arthur Prime who farms in the area, and he has spent years trying to track down photographs taken when it was brand new. The UDS diesel tractor by Minneapolis-Moline (England Ltd) was shipped over in kit form from the USA in the late 1940s and assembled at Sale Tilney & Co Ltd at Wokingham in Berkshire where a Dorman diesel engine, made in Stafford, was installed.
The tractor – huge for the time – was towed by train to Uttoxeter where it had been bought by agricultural supplier C&A Harris, who showcased it in front of the Town Hall.
Photographs were taken – possibly for a newspaper – and farming boys from the town’s schools were allowed to leave lessons to view the tractor in the town centre.
It was sold to farm contractor Harry Fountain of Marston Montgomery for the grand sum of £1,050 and became a common sight on farms around Uttoxeter where Mr Fountain and his machinery would be called in to help at threshing time.
Arthur, who was born at Cauldon Lowe and moved to the Uttoxeter area when he was just five, kept track of the eye-catching American tractor and eventually bought it in the early 1980s.
He said: “I always wanted it from when I was a kid. I used to watch it threshing.
“I first saw it at the end of 1952 and then right up to 1958 Harry used to come threshing every year.
“When Harry died, the tractor went to his brother and it stood in the rickyard at a farm at Marston.
“It stood there for years and started wasting away. The tyres had sunk into the ground. And that was when I bought it. I was proud as punch. It meant a lot to me at the time.
“An old friend told me that he had been one of the boys let out of school to see the tractor and he remembered photographs being taken.
“I’ve spent years asking people who might know anything about the pictures, or who might know where I can find a copy of them, but no one seems to know anything about it.
“I’d just like a picture of the tractor when it was brand new.”
Now Arthur is hoping a public appeal will jog someone’s memory and help him find a copy of the photograph.
As a collector, Arthur has several other tractors and agricultural machines – most of which have a personal link to him and his life in farming.
He added: “I’ve got another one exactly the same that came from the next village. It belonged to Mr Alsopp and he promised I could have it when he finished with it.
“He kept his word and I bought it for £300.”
Arthur started his collection in 1964 with the purchase of a Standard Fordson. He said: “I wanted it because I used to drive one as a kid. I’m still Fordson mad today.
“I’ve been advertising for a Fordson Major with the registration number KRB 978 in Heritage Tractor magazine every month for five years – I used to drive it as a kid.
“It was sold by Fryers of Uttoxeter to T Byatt (Fenton) Ltd in Victoria Road, Fenton.
“It also belonged to Mr Jeffries at Home Farm and was part-exchanged for a new Dexter in 1963.
“I’ve got a photograph of it being driven by a German Prisoner of War.
“I have also got a Fordson Major I used to drive as a kid. It was brand new in 1956 from Friars and in 1964 it went in part-exchange for a more modern Fordson.
“For years after that I was trying to find it.
“Geoff Friar looked in his records and found it had been sold to a Mr Hall near Ashbourne.”
The Fordson was part exchanged twice moving to farms in Roston and then to Abbots Bromley.
Arthur added: “I was looking for it for years and years and years. When I found where it was I went down there and bought it.
“There has seemed to be a lot of personal stories in the tractors I’ve had – I’ve owned them, or driven them as a child, or they belonged to relatives.
“It’s not the value of them, it’s the story of them and where they’ve been.”
As well as collecting vintage tractors, Arthur has also bought old agricultural machinery from the 1930s, 40s and 50s as well as photographs and memorabilia.
One photograph shows a Marshall traction engine hooked up to a threshing drum. The engine belonged to Barlow’s scrapyard at Spath and owner, Mr Barlow, is pictured in the driver’s seat.
Arthur said: “I’d like to know if anybody knows when and where the picture was taken and who the people are in it.
“It must be around the Uttoxeter and Rocester area.”
Anyone who thinks they may have a photograph of the UDS diesel tractor outside Uttoxeter Town Hall, or who may have information about the photograph of the traction engine can contact Arthur via Uttoxeter Echo reporter, Nat Wakefield, telephone 01538 752214 or email: email@example.com.
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