Ploughing Match

A strong turnout of families and farmers alike enjoyed the age old tradition of ploughing at Sulhamstead on Saturday 15th October.

The day started at 9am with a lovely misty glow overlooking the ploughmen, with the sun finally bursting through the clouds making the whole event a pleasant experience. Over 40 ploughman battled it out in their respective classes, which was held at Home Farm in Sulhamstead, by kind permission of Mr and Mrs Robert Astor.

The magnificent heavy horses were out in force, with 7 teams from as far north as County Durham, to the South West of the country. The overall winner of the horse ploughing was Jim Elliott, but it was a local ploughman Clive Collins that came top on the day in the novice class, with ‘Monty’ and ‘Bruno’ from Poplar Farm in Cold Ash with their meticulous furrows.

Many winners from other classes were also local, including Tadley, Wallingford, Hampstead Norreys and Reading.

The overall winner from the match, and who goes through to the National Championships was horse ploughman Jim Elliott, a Farm Manager from the Beamish Museum in County Durham. Jim is a previous winner at the Society’s match and is currently the European Horse Ploughing Champion!

Steve Omrod, Vice Chairman for the Ploughing Match, commented“We, the Society were very pleased with how successful the ploughing match was, with a good number of ploughmen competing as well as families visiting to witness the magnificent machinery on show. The Society members all pulled together to put on a simply lovely event for all ages, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather! The whole place was buzzing and there was lots of laughter and happy faces everywhere you turned.” 

Ploughing aside, there was a local school’s scarecrow competition, with Loddon Primary School the winners, as well as the best decorated kites and collages, with winners from Beedon Primary School and Priors Court.

There was also a competition for home grown produce such as jams, sausage rolls, cakes and liqueurs, and the winners were Jo Greetham for cookery and the Society’s very own Judith Marcham for the beverages. An auction took place at the end of the day and £310 was raised for the Society’s charity of the year, The League of Friends of the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

Families enjoyed meeting the donkeys, courtesy of the Donkey Sanctuary, and stroking baby calves, which were from Home Farm. There was also a bar and hog roast, a variety of agricultural trade stands and a selection of tractors on display which children were able to sit on.

Robert Astor, the Society Show’s President and who’s farm the ploughing match took place at, commented“The event was a great success and many children and their parents enjoyed the activities available as well as rides on the steam driven plough. Ploughing at this level, using motorized machinery ranging from the most modern right back to the end of the First World War, simply had to be seen to be believed! 

The majority of the contestants spent literally hours adjusting the plough by means of spanners and tape measures, so as to get the angle exactly right to match the conditions.

This is an historic year for British ploughing, given that Yorkshire hosted both the World Championship and the National Championship in September. It was exciting that several World Class contestants took part!”


About the Newbury & District Agricultural Society

A not-for-profit organisation, the Newbury & District Agricultural Society was formed in 1909 to organise a show to replace the local horse show. Now a registered charity, the society’s key mission is to promote agriculture, horticulture and rural skills, boosting appreciation of the vital role of the British Farming industry in food, stewardship of the countryside and everyday life.


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