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Gleaming tractor just as it looked in 1937

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: January 24, 2013

  • Michael's W-14 International tractor before its restoration.

  • Michael Nicholas, left, and son, John, at the wheel of their lovingly restored tractor, first bought in 1937. Picture: Phil Monckton/CIOSP

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IT WAS just as Michael Nicholas remembered it as a boy.

The first tractor in the district had caused quite a stir in St Just and here it was still gleaming the exact same red as when his father, Leslie, purchased it in 1937.

The W-14 had been in use on Trevedra Farm until the Sixties when it was replaced by a newer model and had slowly rusted in Leslie's garage until Michael's son, John, and wife Wendy, sent it to be restored several years ago.

Now lovingly refurbished, it was shown to Michael last week, and bears an exact resemblance to how it looked when first bought, other than rubber instead of metal wheels.

But it had stuck in Michael's memory for more than just the novelty of being the first tractor to replace traditional horse-drawn ploughing in the area.

As he explained, the first time he drove it unassisted was at the tender age of 7 during the birth of his sister on the farm.

"I always rode with father; he was ploughing in one of the fields with me when my sister was born," he said.

"He left so I carried on ploughing for about an hour. I had driven it in the field with father before, but that was the first time I had driven it by myself."

Of course the new contraption, which cost about £250, was greeted with scepticism by rival farmers.

"Horses normally cut down to four and a half inches but all of a sudden the plough was doing five or six inches," explained Michael.

"Local farmers around said 'that's not going to work, its going too deep', but those problems didn't come and so we carried on ploughing a few years before other tractors arrived. I was thrilled really to see it back."

The tractor had been gifted to John by grandfather Leslie several years ago. And John and his wife Wendy decided that the piece of history should be restored so sent it to Cornish Tractors at Week St Mary.

Parts were sourced from all over the world, over several years, before it was fully restored.

John said: "We were gobsmacked. It was just what we wanted. Hopefully we might show it at Royal Cornwall, St Buryan Rally and perhaps Stithians as well."

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