VINTAGE TRACTOR RALLY TO BE HELD AT FERGUSON'S BIRTHPLACE
Special day to honour special inventor
A SPECIAL event to commemorate one of the area's most famous sons whose invention of the tractor revolutionised agriculture all over the world was launched on Saturday at Lagan Valley Island Civic Centre.
The person being commemorated is Harry Ferguson and the event being launched is a vintage tractor rally organised by 'Friends of Ferguson Heritage' which will be held at 41, Magheraconluce Road, Hillsborough next Saturday (August 24).
This is the modern address for 'Lake House', Growell, Dromore which was Mr. Ferguson's birthplace more than a century ago in 1884.
All funds raised by the event will go to the 'Friends of Ferguson Heritage Memorial Fund' as part of their efforts to raise money to erect a permanent memorial at the birthplace of the man often referred to as 'Ireland's greatest inventor'.
Special guest at the launch was the Mayor of Lisburn, Councillor Betty Campbell, who extended a warm welcome to another group of visitors - 60 members of the Tractor and Machinery Holiday Club.
More than half of this group were tractor and farm machinery enthusiasts from the USA and Canada, with the remainder from England, Scotland and Wales.
After their coffee stop in Lisburn the group spent the remainder of Saturday visiting Growell and Drumlough before going on to see Tom Herron's collection at Ballyward.
Friends of Ferguson Press Officer Mr, Bill Forsythe said interest in the event had been "tremendous."
"We are receiving calls from all over Ireland and also from Scotland," he said.
"We believe one enthusiast plans to come over from Sweden just to get a chance to bring his tractor back to where it originated."
When the event was first announced earlier this year Mr. Forsythe explained the intention was to underline the important contribution made by Harry Ferguson and demonstrate the following enjoyed by the Ferguson tractor.
"Enthusiasts from all over Ireland and further afield will be given an opportunity to spend a day around the house where he was born," said Mr. Forsythe.
"At the same time they will be able to drive and display their tractors for the benefit of the large number of people it is hoped will be attracted to attend."
Mr. Forsythe said the rally was viewed as a 'pilot' for a much larger two day event which 'might become an annual visitor attraction'.
The organisers, he added, were hoping for a good turnout.
The field in which the tractors will be displayed has historical significance in another way.
Mr. Ferguson made one of the earliest monoplane flights from this piece of land in an aircraft designed and constructed by himself.
"The field is long, narrow and quite flat - a rare occurrence in this area renowned for its drumlins and dire tly beside the lake which gave the house, its name," continued Mr. Forsythe.
Always organised, he had a boat positioned to give assistance if things went wrong and he had to ditch the plane.
"The story goes 'one local spectator on the other side of the lake was so alarmed when the plane actually took to the air and appeared to be heading in his direction that he jumped into a ditch."
The 'Harry Ferguson Homestead Working Day' will commence at l0am and end at 5.30pm.
Tractor owners will take part in a short drive during the afternoon.
There will be species' displays and parking areas for all tractor; and equipment along with spare parts, memorabilia, a children's fun fair, catering and other stalls.
Music will be provided by 'Box Car Brian' and the event will be signposted from the A1 at Hillsborough and Dromore.
Entries invited for ploughing championships
ENTRIES are being invited for the Northern Ireland Vintage Tractor Ploughing Association Championships which take place on Saturday, September 28.
The 2002 event moves back to the Hillsborough farm of Raymond McKee
The land in question is adjacent to the Ml motorway and is renowned for its deep medium loams and large flat fields.
Entry forms are available from Mercer Ward, secretary of the Northern Ireland Vintage Tractor Ploughing Association, telephone 028 9268 2128, and must be returned by Saturday, September 7.
Already requests for forms have arrived from all four home countries, the Isle of Man and Irish Republic.