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‘One of the most influential inventions in farming history’ – Rare 1920s tractor to be auctioned in Ely

PUBLISHED: 16:26 18 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:30 18 September 2018

A rare and historic Crawley Agrimotor farm machine, made in 1920, is being auctioned in Ely. Picture: Cheffins.

A rare and historic Crawley Agrimotor farm machine, made in 1920, is being auctioned in Ely. Picture: Cheffins.


A rare and historically important early tractor, made in East Anglia in 1920, is expected to fetch up to £35,000 when it goes under the hammer next month.

A rare and historic Crawley Agrimotor farm machine, made in 1920, is being auctioned in Ely. Picture: Cheffins.A rare and historic Crawley Agrimotor farm machine, made in 1920, is being auctioned in Ely. Picture: Cheffins.

The Crawley Agrimotor being auctioned on October 20 at Cheffins’ saleground at Sutton, near Ely, is one of only six models known to have survived preservation and is regarded as a significant milestone in farm machinery development.

It was the brainchild of Albert Edward Crawley, who came up with the concept of a motor plough after leaving school at the age of 14 in 1906.

Three Agrimotors were built in Suffolk by Garretts of Leiston before Mr Crawley and his brother Arthur established their own production facilities at the Tower Works in Saffron Walden.

The model being auctioned, No. 234, was made in Saffron Walden in 1920. Auctioneers said it was sold new into Suffolk, and was possibly one of three supplied to Frank Sainsbury, of the supermarket family, who farmed near Haverhill.

It later moved to Great Finborough where it was requisitioned by the Home Guard during the Second World War so that it could be used to barricade the road into the village.

The machine was rescued in the early 1960s by contractor Robert Miles of Great Ashfield. It was then sold again in 1993 and has been exhibited widely by the current owner.

Cheffins director Oliver Godfrey said: “This is a rare opportunity to acquire one of these historically important machines with its heritage deeply rooted in the local area.

“The Crawley Agrimotor was a highly-unusual machine in the early 1900s as it was sold as a motor plough but also came with an attachment which could turn it into a three-wheel tractor. According to the manufacturers, the machines were capable of ploughing ten acres per day which was some feat in during this period. For true tractor enthusiasts this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy what was one of the most influential inventions in farming history.”

The tractor will be sold at the Cheffins Cambridge Vintage Sale complete with the tractor attachment as well as its original literature including sales, instruction and parts books. It has an estimate of £25,000-£35,000.

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