John Deere Limited's special 50th anniversary Celebration & Heritage Event at Langar on September 24 and 25 was a huge success for visitors and participants alike. An estimated 14,000 people from across the UK and Ireland attended the weekend's festivities, which included activities and entertainment for the whole family.
The Mayor of Rushcliffe officially opened the event on Saturday morning, with the Gator utility vehicle ride & drive track and a guided tour of the Langar premises proving to be particularly popular. In addition, the machinery parades and working field demonstrations of tractors, ploughs and combines of all ages represented probably the largest ever gathering of John Deere heritage equipment outside the US.
Here are some examples of typical comments posted by visitors to John Deere's Facebook page www.facebook.com/JohnDeereUKIE:
"I just felt I have to comment on what an amazing event you put on at Langar this past weekend. The sheer effort that must have gone into all the events and the organisation was very much appreciated. Not to mention it all being free!"
"Absolutely fantastic day today at your show and your staff were so friendly, thanks very much for organising such a great event and I'm not even a farmer."
"Brilliant event this weekend, a huge well done to everyone involved, the kids loved it and it was lovely to meet so many great people!"
"Dove Cottage Day Hospice had a refreshment stall in the Big Top and had a fantastic weekend, raising £5,425 for a brilliant cause. Thank you John Deere for putting on this great weekend and giving us the opportunity to have a stand, it was really appreciated."
Also relating to good causes, event organiser Chris Wiltshire, John Deere Limited's marketing manager, added: "The children and parents of Harby, Langar and Cropwell Bishop schools did a fantastic job of selling ice cream at the event, with all profits being donated to the schools, each receiving £720. We are still waiting for all of the monies to be counted from the voluntary charitable donations made at the event, which will be shared between the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance and the Nottingham Hospitals Charity's Saving Lives Helipad Appeal."
There were over 200 John Deere vintage, classic and modern tractors and other heritage machines at the event, spanning 100 years of production, with at least one tractor representing every year from 1962 to 2011, ie 49 continuous years - there was even a John Deere bicycle.
Some of the heritage tractor highlights included:
- a 1916 Overtime Model R belonging to Malcolm Robinson of Horncastle in Lincolnshire, which was imported from the US during the First World War to aid the war effort;
- a 1919 Waterloo Boy Model N belonging to Harry Williams of Mold in Flintshire, the first tractor produced by John Deere in the US after it bought the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company in Iowa;
- a 1924 Model D belonging to John Deere dealer Frank Sutton of Raglan in Monmouthshire, the oldest tractor in Europe bearing the John Deere name;
- a 1943 Model BN belonging to Brian Wright of Langford in Nottinghamshire, which may be the oldest working John Deere tractor in the UK, and is still used to hoe sugar beet every spring.
There were also eleven examples of the iconic 4020 tractor that dates back to 1966, the year John Deere Limited started trading from its current premises at Langar. The company's own specially restored model nicknamed BEV, which featured alongside the new 620hp four-track 9620RX - the biggest tractor John Deere makes worldwide today - in last November's Lord Mayor's Show in London, was used as a backdrop in a special display where visitors could have their photo taken and receive a free 50th anniversary souvenir print.
Another tractor of note was the original 5010 that was exhibited for the first time in the UK by Lundell (Gt Britain) Ltd at the 1962 Royal Smithfield Show in London. Owner David Leech, co-organiser of the JD50 heritage event along with his brother (and John Deere Limited retiree) Peter Leech, also owns the first 5020 tractor imported into the UK from the US in 1965 - both of these models helped pioneer large scale farming systems in the UK & Ireland.
More recent examples on show included the John Deere 8000 Series tractors introduced in 1994, the first in history to have their design concept patented, and the 6910 full-frame tractor, Europe's biggest-selling model in 1998.
A 1996 6400 tractor from the pioneering 6000 Series range was driven to the event by contractor Michael Tucker - all the way from Cullompton in Devon, a round trip of almost 450 miles. This machine has recorded an amazing 48,000 hours, equivalent to working 6.5 hours a day every day, 365 days a year, for 20 years, or getting on for 1.5 million miles driving at 30mph.
The Judges' Choice award of a specially framed print, showing the 4020 and 9620RX tractors together with the 50th anniversary logo, was presented on the final afternoon by John Deere Limited managing director Jonathan Henry. This went to Chris Jubb and a 1966 4020 SynchroRange tractor owned by his father John Jubb, who bought it for their farming and contracting business in 1967. Local specialist Ben Craig of Harby restored this tractor in 2006, along with BEV.
John Deere Limited managing director Jonathan Henry said: "For me the most memorable experience was observing and listening to the emotions and comments of our visitors as they walked down the 100 years of tractor history. Everyone had different memories triggered by the line-up but one common theme, a passion for John Deere.
"The last 50 years has been a resounding success for the John Deere brand in the UK and Ireland, from new entrant to market leadership, and a testament to our core values of integrity, quality, commitment and innovation. Here's to the next 50 years!"
(Left to right) Roger Lawson, Sam Russo and James Robson of Henton & Chattell manned the homeowner equipment display in the event's Big Top - coincidentally, 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of John Deere Limited's turf business in the UK & Ireland.
Farol Ltd did great business right through the weekend in the John Deere shop, selling a wide range of branded merchandise including the special 50th anniversary range (also pictured), and several thousand copies of the JD50 souvenir brochure.
John Deere forestry and commercial turf equipment were also on display, alongside over 200 vintage, classic and modern tractors and other machinery.