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Ripon news stories, Yorkshire

Rare appearance for Edwardian tractor at Tractor Fest

A rare vintage Sharp tractor dating back to 1904 will make its first public appearance in 70 years at this year’s Tractor Fest to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Held at Newby Hall, Ripon, Tractor Fest is the UK’s largest tractor festival showcasing more than 1500 vintage tractors, machines and vehicles. It has been extended this year to three days over the Bank Holiday Jubilee weekend (Friday 3 June to Sunday 5 June) in celebration of the Queen’s 70th anniversary as monarch.

The Sharp motor tractor with power-driven cutter bar was manufactured in York as a prototype by young Lancashire farmer Wilfred Sharp. He established Sharp’s Auto-Mower and Tractor Company at Coppergate, York, and claimed the £175 tractor would mow 35 acres of hay in 10 hours at a cost of just two pence per acre.

Although crude by modern standards, the machine was a radical departure for the time. It was powered by a 14hp two-cylinder Daimler engine driving a single-speed (forward and reverse) transmission. The Howard cutter-bar was driven via an eccentric from the main transmission shaft.

Sharp also claimed the tractor would haul a three-furrow plough, reaper or binder, and drive a threshing machine, chaff cutter, bone mill, cream separator or laundry machinery. Despite this, it failed to attract any customers – even after public demonstrations and a redesign that involved a longer wheelbase and a new four-cylinder Humber engine.

In one of its last public appearances in 1955, the tractor toured the UK as part of a ‘Power Farming’ collection of the country’s oldest working tractors. It then moved into a private collection for 46 years, before being acquired by Bishop Auckland tractor enthusiast Kevin Watson.

Kevin, who is also chair of the Yorkshire Vintage Association, said:

A life-long fascination with Sharp tractors was sparked by machinery historian, Major Reverend Philip A Wright, and his book ‘Old Farm Tractors’. They are very rare and it took me a long while to track one down and then another ten years to persuade the previous collector to sell her to me.

The grey, open tractor had been dry stored and unused for a number of years. She has a sprung seat, original artillery wheels at the front and heavy iron wheels to the rear and represents a splendid early piece of agricultural history. I’m now recommissioning her so I can put her back to work.

The three-day Tractor Fest will showcase vintage tractors and modern marques, stationary engines, commercial vehicles, cars, lorries and motorcycles.

In celebration of the Platinum Jubilee, this year’s festival will feature a display of 70-year-old Jubilee and Coronation vintage tractors, along with a display of 100 pre-1922 vintage tractors,100 century–old stationary engines and 100 years of the Austin 7 car. The show will also feature displays from specialist marque clubs and working vintage machinery.

A host of entertainment, crafts, food and drink make Tractor Fest a great family day out. Admission includes access to Newby’s award-winning gardens, adventure playground, dolls house and teddy bear exhibitions.

Other fun activities for families over the weekend include mini tractor driving, face painting, colouring, interactive exhibits and working machinery. There are also trade stands, crafts and a choice of street food.

Tractor Fest is sponsored by Europe’s leading agricultural and machinery auctioneer Cheffins, The National Vintage Tractor & Engine Club (NVTEC) and Econ Engineering. The show is also supported by Ripon Farm Services.

WHEN?         Friday 3 June – Sunday 5 June 2022, 10am-5pm

WHERE?        Newby Hall & Gardens, Ripon, North Yorkshire

COST              £16 for adults. £12 for children (4-16 years) – under 4’s free.  A family ticket (2 Adults & 2 Children) £50

TICKETS        Available exclusively online

For more information visit:

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